Anyone calling for peace, closure of the 2017 elections, turning attention to development “now that the election is over” -without paying attention to the pulse of those frustrated, angry, in denial or “seeking justice”- is in fact being unpatriotic. We inter depend and we need each other in moving forward.
Thankfully, a section of the country has moved on. However, the country – as a whole - has not moved from 2017.
Yes, some people have moved on. Days and dates have changed. Political events have changed. New people have come into some offices following last year’s general election.
Campaign posters, bill boards and all manner of political advertising have been brought down. A sign that electioneering has cooled down if not over and dusted. But, and I argue strongly so, the country, as a unit, as a polity, has not moved away from the outcome of the 2017 elections.
Why? Elections are meant to close a chapter of one regime and usher in another even if some leaders are re-elected. In other words, election outcomes are meant to renew hope, aspirations and implementation of people’s articulated dreams.
Leaders are elected to listen to their constituents and ensure their deliberations are steered to fruition. Only when consensus is built around a decision, an election outcome for example, does a country say it has moved on.
I do appreciate greatly that those in Government cannot but bury themselves in implementing the Government development plan. And this is fine. For this group the country has moved on from the elections. It is a positive attitude to the extent that there is commitment to ensuring we do not stall on electioneering and forget that there is life beyond elections.
We must also appreciate that there is a considerable percentage of Kenyans for whom days have changed, the calendar year is 2018, they are back to their daily chores, but the outcome of 2017 presidential election, in particular, has refused to subside, erase or simply melt away. The yearning for justice, as they see it, is louder than before.
To simply wish away their feelings is doing great disservice to the future of this country. Being a predominantly Christian country, we might turn to St Paul and remind ourselves that if one part of the body is aching it is pretentious to say that “am well”. I guess other religions have similar teaching. If an eye is in pain the whole body must accompany the eye to hospital.
If a considerable size of Kenyans are in pain, it is not wise to ignore their concerns and feelings – justified or not. Good reasoning alone does not solve a social problem. Parallel contestations away from the preservation of the common good can only hurt us as a country. The many negative effects of the current political contestation around the need for dialogue, if at all, will be painfully felt as we move towards the next election.
Moreover, the combative behaviour from both the Government and the Opposition is not a solution to anything. No peace is achieved by brutally outdoing each other when stakes are so high – as are in a contested presidency. The fundamental need for peace, law and order must not be insensitive to human feelings of the other. Equally, the search for electoral justice must not negate the sister principle of natural justice.
Looking at the broader current political activities especially on the contested call for national dialogue, I am much more worried that locally we seem unable to address the weaknesses in our electoral system so that elections do not become a reason for fear and polarization.
For this, I shudder seeing the international community offering conditions for what is meant to be a local national dialogue, offering to support the rule of law and order, and offering to support this or that initiative to maintain peace in our country. This is not only a shame on our sense of sovereignty but also a surrender to the international world to decide whom between the leading protagonists is to be supported.
In solving the seeming deep seated yet increasing hatred between ourselves as Kenyans, we just need to be human to each other and accept we have a problem. The political challenge we have has muted from whether the sitting president is in office legally or not, with legitimacy or not, to wondering whether we surely want to overlook the fabric of humanness that keeps us together as Kenyans.
What does it gain us to defend political positions that destroy us as a nation? The sense of being right, entitled, coupled with a condescending attitude from any party to a conflict can only escalate differences.
As a country, we can only say we have moved on if a large part of the country is in agreement. To achieve a just and peaceful country it is imperative that we involve the grassroots and build our house – Kenya – through a bottom-up approach. As the contest for what should be the content of the dialogue is getting elusive, let Wanjiku and the most aggrieved –the political leaders- engage each other.