The threat of violence in the run-up to the August 2017 elections is real. This is a reality we cannot run away from when politicians and Members of Parliament, especially, fan the embers that could ignite the country through careless utterances and the manner in which they conduct business in the august House.
It cannot have escaped Kenyans so soon that in the 2008 post-election violence, the lives of 1200 Kenyans were lost while more than 600,000 were displaced internally.
A sizeable number slipped into Uganda. Towards the end of last year, the group that came back from Uganda camped at Parliament Buildings, claiming they had been short-changed. Those are scenes that must forever remain behind us.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission last year listed 19 counties, among them Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Turkana, Kiambu, Kilifi, Lamu, Baringo and Pokot as potential trouble spots. This cannot be taken lightly.
The Government can talk tough and threaten action against inciters, but the spontaneity of violence means any action could come late, by which time damage would already have been done.
This is all the more reason why politicians seeking elective posts must take the initiative as early as now to preach peace. Already, there are some crisscrossing the country and counties in search of votes. The messages they carry must be of hope and peace.
Their debates must be informed by issues rather than personalities and selfish interests. Politicians playing the tribal card have been a major undoing for this country, we must guard against them.
It also behoves the citizens to firmly put aspirants in line whenever they step out. Because the safety of Kenya cannot be entrusted to politicians alone, it is the duty of every Kenyan to ensure the country remains peaceful before and after elections. The peace campaigns by leaders in Nakuru are welcome.