By Ngâangâa Gicumbi
The recently concluded Kanu&searchbutton=SEARCH'> Kanu delegatesâ conference reminded me of President Moiâs statement that â Kanu&searchbutton=SEARCH'> Kanu iko na wenyewe ( Kanu&searchbutton=SEARCH'> Kanu has its owners)â.
Whatever Moi meant by the ambiguous phrase is anybodyâs guess, but he meant the Independence party was not a mass one as was wrongly perceived, but rather a âproductive ideaâ of some âunknownâ people.
A story will help illustrate this. During the despotic reign of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin in Russia, a peasant applied for membership of the ruling Communist Party. The secretary first asked him a few questions: âIf the party were to ask you for a donation of 100 rubles, would you comply unhesitatingly? âYes.â âAnd if the party were to request you to enlist your only son in the Red Army?â âI would enlist him.â
âWhat if the party were to ask you to donate your cow to help in the fight against the countryâs enemies? Would you do so?â âNo.â
âDo you mean to tell me that you would give 100 rubles or an only son but not a cow?â asked the bewildered party official. âBut comrade, I have no cow,â came back a subdued reply. In 1983, Amos Traversky and Daniel Kahneman, both of whom are accomplished psychologists, published, in the Psychological Review, a theory that has continued to have an impact on Americaâs foreign policy. They called this Prospect Theory.
In theoretical terms, Prospect Theory argues that individuals tend to be risk averse in the domain of gains, and risk seeking in the domain of losses. Part of what determines whether the situation is considered to be one of "gains" or "losses" depends on how the options are "framed" or constructed prior to choice.
Decisions often take place under conditions of risk, where something of value may be at stake. Risk is inhered in any situation where there is uncertainty, and even more so when the stakes are high or the prize is big.
Any decision made under conditions of certainty is trivial almost by definition, as the outcome and its value are known in advance or their consequences are not significant.
Because losses loom larger than gains, Prospect Theory posits that it is more difficult for people to adjust to losses than to gains. As a result, more energy will be spent trying to avoid or recoup losses than will be devoted to consolidating or obtaining new gains.
The phenomenon of loss aversion is exacerbated by other psychological tendencies as well. The losses of Kanu&searchbutton=SEARCH'> Kanu are there for all to see. In fact, its resilience has continued to baffle many who had dug its grave following the 2002 electoral loss.