What is the difference between a driver who refuses to stop when flagged down by a police officer, and a Government officer who refuses to turn up when summoned by a State agency? Nothing. What is the difference between a matatu driver that crushes a police officer who is waving him down to stop, and a Government officer who intimidates a judge or magistrate when summoned to court? Nothing. These are but evidences of a society that is fast sliding into lawlessness. Unless nipped in the bud, this behaviour can only lead to eventual anarchy – where everyone does as they please.
It may be recalled that there was a time when mob justice was commonplace. People were lynched for mundane things such as stealing a banana, or being suspected to be a night runner. Why? Because the legal system had basically failed. Matters taken to court would take forever to adjudicate, and even when they were, it was clear to all and sundry that the ruling was in favour of the highest bidder. We lost faith in the courts and resorted to mob justice – spontaneously sorting out matters in the streets. Many innocent people died on mere suspicion and many others were sentenced to death for minor offences.
It seems to me that we could be sliding back to those days, if not worse. The widespread lawlessness being witnessed in various parts of the country is testament to this. The burning of trucks in Kitui, and the subsequent barricading of the busy Naivasha Road and harassing of innocent motorists are but examples. Sadly, we seem to have the weakness of not seeing the dotted lines between issues, actions and events. Thus, every occurrence is viewed in almost total isolation.
Whereas we mobilise our politics purely on ethnic basis, we are surprised at the ethnic profiling that happens in our counties and other Government institutions. There is a blatant demand that all institutions within our regions – including schools, universities, ports and hospitals – must be led by “our people” and we readily demonstrate and barricade streets if that is violated.
When a senior politician and community elders from the North Eastern region, boldly declare that they know and will in thirty days name the perpetrators of the attack on Garissa University, but then remain silent years later, they do not see how that emboldens the attackers who continue to harass and kill non-locals. Worse still, they have failed to anticipate what would happen if other communities would arise and do likewise to “their people” who live in different parts of the country.
When a self-proclaimed political prophet is allowed, indeed encouraged, to spew weekly ethnic vitriol against specific individuals and target communities, we should then not be surprised by the vicious utterances and actions by some political mandarins from that outfit who seem to follow his script to the letter. In the process we inadvertently nurture political hounds who have no qualms tearing into anyone or anything that threatens to invade their secured territory or who appear to stand on their way.
It is amazing that traffic police officers stand at major intersections and authoritatively command motorists to drive through red lights and stop at green, and yet not realise that they are silently communicating that traffic lights mean nothing. No wonder when the officers are absent, we do what they have “trained” us to do! In the good old days, the officers would put off the lights before controlling traffic manually. And while on matters traffic, we have totally erased the bold connection between our unruly behaviour on the road, and the gridlocks and snarl ups that are common in our city roads. We do not realise that common courtesy and simple observance of traffic rules would help us all reach our destinations faster and smoothly. Has anybody seriously considered the connection between encouraging a betting culture and its negative impact on hard work – replacing it instead with a lazy greed for big easy money? Does anybody know that such greed easily nurtures corruption and breeds thieves and robbers? I wonder.
And one more, do we actually realise that there is a direct link between the dry taps in our houses and the wanton destruction of forests, the polluting of rivers, and dumping of plastics of all kinds everywhere? Next time you lower your car window to throw out those plastic bottles and food wrappings, please remember that you are switching off our electricity. Believe it or not, every action has a consequence. Let’s connect the dots.
- The writer is the Presiding Bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries. [email protected]