Politicians take advantage of our idealism to get away with corruption, poor governance

It is either eternal optimism, plain naivety or just gullibility at play, but we never stop clutching onto any strand of hope that we can, as a people.

Besides our legendary entrepreneurial nature and perhaps our world-beating athletic prowess, hope must be the other widespread trait in this country. Anything that lifts the spirit and gives us something better to aspire and look forward to in the foreseeable future, whether or not it has a real chance of coming to fruition, is always welcome.

At this rate, if anyone ever came up with a contest for the most hopeful country in the world, Kenya would likely be a strong contender for the prize.

This undying hope is the reason we were recently fast to celebrate the naming of a prominent clergyman to chair the anti-graft agency. Of course, corruption, which is often described as a cancer, has stagnated our progress and everything that needs to be done to tackle it is for the greater good, including getting a fresh pair of able hands.

However, the reality, as history has shown, is that there does not seem to be a magic wand that can be waved over the problem of corruption for it to disappear.

A lot more, it appears, needs to be done, in addition to having an immensely qualified and respected religious leader and professional with a solid track record of speaking uncomfortable truth to power. If a leader with a faith background, on their own, could deliver the change we all yearn for, we would be miles ahead already in this fight.

After all, the new sheriff's predecessor too was a man of the cloth, whose appointment was similarly widely celebrated as it was a break from the usual staple of tough-talking career lawyers who failed to slay the dragon.

All this notwithstanding, we continue to hope that the latest signing will move the needle and deliver a lot more than the forerunners did. But it will take some action alongside the generous dose of faith and hope.

This bottomless reservoir of hope is the reason we will never fail to believe things uttered by our leaders, not just during campaigns but at any other times, as well. Even when we have an administration in office and should be demanding more action, an extra promise seems to be just as welcome.

The political types seem to have mastered how to harness this weakness too well. They will not stop throwing promise after promise, each more mouth-watering than the previous one, to keep us holding onto dear hope and not ranting about failure to deliver. Even when they do not intend to fulfil these promises, the politicians know we will swallow all and stay hopeful, forgetting to interrogate and hold them accountable.

And when we get tired of waiting for them to come through and start whining, there will be another lofty promise to be unleashed to keep us busy hoping. Clearly, we must be every politician's dream. No wonder, even after getting elected, there are always more promises than actual things done. Who needs to worry about delivering against a manifesto when you can have the people perpetually on an endless drip of hope?

It is in this spirit of hopefulness that when there is nothing to hope for, we do not miss playing the comparison game as a distraction. This will have us pick on another nation that is in a rough stretch to serve as consolation. All in all, it is to flee from our grim reality.

Not to discount the value of staying hopeful about the future though, but we cannot keep believing anything that offers a ray of hope. Even when a similar experiment delivered an exactly opposite outcome to what we are gunning for. We are a hopeful nation, after all.

- @butunyi

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