“You are a loser!” These words cut through the heart like a hot knife going through butter. Yet they are words that Kenyans throw around at everyone who loses an election and worse, at anyone who voted for the electoral loser too. The term used is: “kutupa kura” (wasted vote).The person who voted for someone who didn’t win is considered to have failed at democracy and is as such a loser to a very great extent. The pain of loss in Kenya is compounded by the psychological badgering of the losers by the winners.
During this festive season I am requesting my fellow Kenyans to consider keenly what it is we have said and what it means to ourselves, our kin and the nation at large. This festive season, many have travelled to see kith and kin. Have we realised how Wangui has walked in with Omollo and their three kids? Have we noticed Nekesa and her husband Mutai? What do we say then? How do we look at them in the eye when they read our comments on Facebook and Twitter where we called each other names that are unprintable and over the ballot treated them like abandonable rubbish because we bundled and labelled entire tribes as this that or the other?
What do we do when these losers come to us? Do we act as if we didn’t consider them losers? Are we to just accept and move on? Are we united as a family or are we at a public relations event where we smile, showing our teeth yet throw daggers with our eyes?
During this festive season, I ask every Kenyan to consider dropping hate and hate speech directed at those who vote differently from us and instead offer an embrace and apology. Genuinely shake a hand or two and say I am sorry. Not just for what was said by yourself but for what was said by a community leader, a political leader, a member of the clergy. As a nation, let us take this time to just say sorry to each other. Let’s drop for once who is right and who is wrong and realise our cohesion as a people is a higher calling than the rightness of our stands. Cordial relations are requisite to harmony and greater national cohesion.
Alongside our apologies, perhaps we could lend an ear. Listen to what the other side says. understand why they do what they do and how they do it. Don’t listen to judge, or even to correct ; listen to know where they are coming from and to simply hear them out. You might learn a thing or two about history, about perception and just how wrong you are in thinking the way you do.
I have written before that we can’t hate that which we understand and perhaps in the absence of any solid steps from Mr Kaparo, an initiative by ourselves as a citizenry is what is required. As we indulge in the Christmas cheer, let’s take the opportunity to infuse real love and real actions towards embracing each other across the divide.
It is in fact quite a good opportunity for us to have an excuse to walk to the neighbour from the other “stronghold” and share a chapati, chicken leg or a mbuzi leg. Let us not call them losers or wicked winners and assume they behave exactly like the political class during rallies. Let us all act like the same political class acts when its time to elect each other to commissions and East African legislative bodies.
Let’s borrow a leaf and give advantage to each other in our homes. Let us decide to love each other with such vehemence that politics will never divide us again. The cure for the Kenyan cancer lies in every home finding love outside the context of the same tribe. A bit of mixed family is what we need; democratic families where members can be from different political factions.
In fact I pray that there are nuclear families that will meet, having supported different factions during the election and still love each other without the lenses with which we often view our political divides.
Let’s step down from extreme views and statements and realise there is only one Kenya, we are one people and the dividing lanes aren’t real. The issues aren’t that big and our hearts as a nation are big enough to do and say the right thing today and tomorrow. Have a wonderful festive season.
Mr Bichachi is a Communication [email protected]