Time has exposed falsity in tyranny of numbers tale
For four years, UDA party, initially the Tanga Tanga wing of the ruling Jubilee Party, had engaged Kenyans in visual make-believe. The popular line was, “we have the numbers”. This meant that the group believed that they had the numbers in parliament and the county assemblies as well as on the ground, with the voters. From the onset, the illusion was easily debunked.
They were unable to defeat motions during debates and even when they predicted that the BBI initiative would fail in the county assemblies and the houses of Parliament, the bill passed in 44 out of 47 assemblies and passed with an overwhelming majority in both the National Assembly and the Senate.
In Mount Kenya for instance, where the group created the perception that they were overwhelmingly popular, all the counties passed the bill. In the Rift Valley, DP Ruto’s stronghold, the majority of the county assemblies gave the BBI bill a clean bill of health. Need we say more, the representational numbers they boasted of were a mirage!
From the representatives, the group strategised to show the entire country that they had a great following and warm reception everywhere they went, with a special focus on the populous Mount Kenya region. This was supposed to be simple, and almost fooled people.
In areas where the mobilization strategy was not as successful as anticipated, images were taken from convenient perspectives, to create the impression that the rallies were well attended, even when it was the complete opposite. In some instances, for instance in Nyeri County recently, Kenyans marvelled at a narrow street of Nyeri town that appeared as wide as an eight-lane super-highway.
With the uproar from Kenyans over the image angling deception, the trick is not as marvellous as it was before.
Still in an effort to portray Ruto as an intimidatingly popular leader countrywide, the camp strategised to take advantage of events of national significance, that enjoyed undivided national attention. This started with national celebrations where Kenyans were ferried and mobilized with specific instructions to cheer loudly and wildly when DP Ruto took to the podium or any speaker sounded like they were about to utter Ruto’s name.
The cheers were meant to dwarf any applause other leaders present would receive. The lowest moment was during the burial of former President Kibaki. In an event of sobriety and sombre moods, crowds are expected to be mourning the departure of such a figure. Instead, crowds went wild when DP Ruto took to the podium. This was interpreted by Kenyans across the country as a deliberate plan by the UDA brigade. The crowds appeared to have been mobilised and instructed to cheer as loud and as long as possible the moment the leader of UDA stood to speak. All this, is meant to show everyone that he is very popular, and effectively sway other people to an imaginary wave of his support.
Aware that they will be facing a mountain of an opponent, DP Ruto’s camp decided to employ the strategy of illusion to try and turn the odds in their favour. In an effort to win popularity, they started by creating the false impression that they were popular.
It is human psychology. A person who appears to be liked by people will be easier to win over other people to like them. By creating a false show of popularity through facilitated rally crowds and planning to cheer, the UDA camp hoped to make Kenyans believe that they were the most popular movement in the country. With campaigns officially started, the crowds have started to grow smaller and opportunities to mobilise for the leaders to be cheered more than others in attendance have run out. Kenyans have been freed from crowd pressure and will judge leaders based on issues, and not based on falsified proof of popularity.
Cherambos is a social commentator based in Nairobi. [email protected]