Voting or not, election outcome will affect your life!
Kenya is a multi-ethnic society. This is a fact that has been used to shame, celebrate, divide and unite according to the existing need. This has led some Kenyans to christen themselves as ‘tribeless’, a noble yet impolitic move.
Human beings innately crave a sense of belonging. As a result, those trying to distance themselves from the said tribes ironically end up in a tribe.
The political class is its own tribe and at any point they can turn against the citizens. They strategise according to their wants and needs. The people are just a means to an end. Yet, we the people are more than the political class in numbers. We know this. They know this.
As far back as the world’s oldest democracies, the people have been more than the political class. How then have people been overrun time and time again by the politicians?
Politics is as complicated as it is simple. Sometimes, what you see is what you get. Other times, all you see is an illusion. Politicians have mastered the art of using this for themselves and against the people. This is their stomping ground. Most are born into it while others are naturally drawn to it. People lose battles against politicians because they take it to their turf. This is why politicians seem to win every time.
Every few years, the rules change. For a short window, the power shifts to the people. The time frame between the shift mentally and emotionally drains the citizens of the will to comprehend politics and in the end, they fail to recognise the shift. The election period is the shift.
In Kenya, the shift is marked by business interruption and political intolerance. This is not the culture we should pass on to the next generations. Tribes have never been our actual problems. Our current crop of politicians is the drawback.
It is not uncommon to see people online contrasting Kenya to the first world countries and blaming the failures on our politicos. Yet, we put the said individuals in the positions of power they hold. Interestingly, Kenyans omit that the first world countries have tribes, too.
In Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
Kenya has been rocked by devastating post-election violence before. It is an unsettling fact. The presidential candidates have signed a peace treaty with the IEBC committing to promote peace before, during and after the Tuesday election. This has not stopped some foot soldiers from one of the camps from careless talks on the campaign trial. A leader who blatantly refuses to put an end to insults in his camp is unfit for power.
We seem to lack discernment where politicians are involved. Not all politicians are leaders. We need to find a way to sift through these individuals. We are absurdly short of leaders who will work for the good of our nation. We should collectively start to work towards using the power shift window to choose those who will excel in leadership.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Previously, we might have taken steps in the wrong direction. Let this election be the first step in the right path for your ward, constituency, county and country. You cannot protest by not voting. You are simply underestimating and yielding to the unscrupulous individuals and their minions. If votes didn’t matter, why would politicians spend billions to woo the voter?
The leader you elect at the ward level will have direct consequences to your life. They will set the pace for your life in the next five years more than the president will.
It is about time we chose leaders with capacity and not promises. You are responsible for what happens to the country for the next five years. It is time to rise up. Let your dying patriotic embers be used at the ballot. Let the results of this elections reignite our joint nationalism. Vote in peace. Vote for peace.
— The writer is a strategic communications consultant