Instead of fostering unity the BBI report is causing divisions as voices of opposition are shunned
Evidently, Kenya is in a bad place. In virtually every corner of the country, we are being forced to sing a strange song. Insecurity stalks North Eastern Kenya. Meanwhile, the police are armed to the teeth and poured in Mumias. They are here to ensure everybody goes to Kakamega to sing the strange song. Al Shabab can wait. A broke country is spending state funds on choral rallies in pursuit of a cagey agenda. We don’t understand the message of the song. The words, the stanzas and tune are unknown. But we must sing. If we don’t sing, we are called the devil’s children. Because of this, the strange song is causing unnecessary hostility. The choir masters will not listen to legitimate questions.
It appears that people must be bullied and railroaded to sing this song called the BBI Song. It is building bridges and burning bridges, both at once. President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga are the principal choristers. Even they, however, seem to know only the chorus. Yet, they want the country to become a mass choir, singing strange stuff. But how do you sing a song still being written?
In November last year, the writers of the song brought us what they thought was the composition. We sent them back to recompose. Even they don’t seem to be sure what they should write next. They are supposed to go around the country, seeking new verses. But the political class has run ahead of them. It is going everywhere, bullying people; telling them they must sing. And some people are pretending to understand and to say, “Yes, I will sing the wonderous story. . . ” Only that they cannot go beyond this beautiful chorus. And so they pack in insults.
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A people could not possibly sink lower. Students of social science will be familiar with the kind of mass hysteria gripping Kenya. Someone comes up with some magical abracadabra. It is marketed as the elixir of everything. Everyone is supposed to buy it. If you try to seek clarification, you are told you are the devil’s firstborn. Seasons such as Kenya is going through call for patriots to stand up to be counted.
We are in the fog of the seasons’ end again – a time when our collective faculties are on holiday. University professors, lawyers, journalists, the clergy – virtually everybody; have embraced an incomplete and vague thing. Kenyans love to be politically correct. Hence, even highly learned people have traded in their intellect for political correctness.
President Uhuru and Raila will not let their steering committee do its work and bring the results. They must go out on the hustings, literally bullying Kenyans into accepting the BBI. The saga is turning into a later day witch hunt. We don’t know whether we are being asked to accept the BBI notion, the November 2019 report, or the new report that the steering committee is still working on. Youthful political demagogues have been commissioned to insult questioning minds. They are in their element at press conferences and rallies.
As Barrack, I will not board. It does not matter who else boards – Kenyatta, Odinga, Ruto, Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Wetang’ula and even you my reader – you may all board. But I will not. I cannot support things that I don’t understand. If the choice is between yes and no on a thing that I don’t understand, I will answer a straight no. People are boarding for different reasons. For some, it is their thing. Others are afraid of being left behind, just in case something good should come out of it. Yet others seem to be on board because they have been bullied to join in. It is a tragic and sad witch hunt moment.
Many questions arise. Why is there such a huge sense of urgency about this thing? We have been told that we must go to a referendum by June. Why must this thing be forced down our throats in such a rush? Who is it supposed to serve? And why is it that President Uhuru and Raila promote it in nervy and acidulous language? If it is such a good thing, why do they unleash armed police officers to bully dissenters? Or, has dissent become a crime? If this BBI is about peacebuilding, why are their spanner boys brandishing hostile fists? Why are the girls singing celebratory war songs?
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We have heard that BBI is supposed to unite the country. What about the rising hostility between the Deputy President’s supporters on one hand and those of Raila on the other? Are they not part of the country that needs to be united? Does unity between those two camps not matter then? What of the intra-Jubilee hostility between Kieleweke and Tangatanga? Does it not matter? The country is without a doubt tearing apart. Someday, the world is likely to be looking back with us, wondering what happened to us.
For now, we are allowed to read sinister motives in the incomplete song that is the BBI. If the intentions were noble at the start, they have been hijacked for a different agenda. This agenda can only be about Executive power. The President has blown hot and cold on this question. He needs to state his position on the succession issue. Is it true, for example, that President Uhuru intends to succeed himself? Is this why the law must change, willy-nilly? Is this the prime factor behind all the negative energy in the country? I have raised many questions. Before I get satisfactory answers, I am not coming on board MV BBI, even if I remain alone.
— The writer is a strategic public communications adviser. www.barrackmuluka.co.ke