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We've made our bed on the August polls, let's now lie on it

By Kipkoech Tanui | Published Fri, June 16th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 15th 2017 at 21:41 GMT +3

Although many of us started off life lying on cowhide skins, this did not stop our instructors from teaching us the meaning of the phrase, "You have made your bed, now lie on it." What it basically meant was that we are products of decisions we make and we shouldn't blame others. Like in the case of the "Kibaki Men" as Mr John Githongo put it; if you are given a skunk and you take it home as a gift, then you must learn to live with its disturbing fragrance.

Kenya is the sum total of the decision we took at Independence. But more importantly, this relates to the view we have of elections: It is a cut-throat business and the highway to power, influence and money and the power to break the law and benefit.

The assumption grew after Independence that if you are not the President's tribesman or woman, then your turn to eat is in the future. We were conditioned to salivate while others ate roast meat, believing that kuteseka ni kwa muda tu (no situation is permanent) and that for the time being, we just get contented from the scent coming from the grill and the charcoal burners.

Taking sides

The same would be repeated under the Kanu regime, the common denominator with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's being that access to power was access to the big and sweet things in life. Down the road, the notion that to get power, we must coalesce as tribes to see which side can outweigh the other (like in a game of see-saw) to grab power.Hadn't we learnt from the animals of prey that to get to the prey, we must deploy tactics similar to the military's? Move slowly and unseen; strike hard and fast; position yourselves in strategic places; move in a formation that entraps the gazelle or the wildebeest.

Unfortunately, it is the hunting party chasing its own interests (to be on the high table of course), and for the top guns to amass enough to keep themselves happier and a little to spare the bread crumbs for their foot-soldiers. The cycle continues each election year with hunting parties being formed, others merging.

When we promulgated the 2010 Constitution we were told that this would transfer power and management of resources to the grassroots and diminish the competition for the Presidency. But four years after the setting up of 47 pseudo-governments, the problem has worsened. The plunder and pillage of resources has also been 'devolved' and the hunting parties drawn up along the pattern of tribes, clans, religions and extended families.

The inevitable prospect that something not good will come up after this election is getting real. You see in this version of politics, we know strength replaces speed after the kill and you know of course that there is something called the lion's share – which comes by entitlement. So it is not entirely true that the tribal armies will benefit in equal measure with the chieftains.

But even more importantly and ominous is that we have laced our politics with a promise of redemption. Which is a good thing. But then the 'redemption' seems to apply to the winning party. Doom follows the losing side. See, we have come to create and believe that Opposition is a gateway to hell. Redemption comes at the next election (only if you win). That is why losers feel like swallowing a five-year sleeping pill.

Present day Joshua

It is this politics of redemption, which featured in the name of the movement Hezekiah Ochuka known for his role in the 1982 coup-attempt preached. We now have a Kenyan 'Joshua' taking his people to the Promised Land after a spying mission. He has seen it is good... it is heaven on earth. Can you imagine the disappointment when they reach, just analogically, and find that it has been grabbed?

The implication here is that you are either in the wilderness or the 'Promised Land'. Now look at the nastiness of the impending electoral battle and the integrity and credibility issues surrounding IEBC, then try and pick out the worrying signals from the 2007 and 2013 pre-election period, then know what the future portends for us. We can choose to bury the head in the sand or trust that somehow God will come through for us. Now let us prepare to lie on the bed we made.

Mr Tanui is Deputy Editorial Director and Managing Editor, Daily Editions [email protected]


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