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Understanding what happened during elections will set us free

Poll clerks at Embakasi East tallying centre situated on August 10, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

No, do not run away from the 'scene of crime'. Where are we hurrying to? What are we running away from? Is Kenya on the move?

Isn’t this our home? Our only country? What stops us from staying at the 'scene of crime' to collect all evidence, analyse, sort out truth from lies, repair the damage and then proceed?

We need peace and normal life to resume. Thankfully, we have surely matured in terms of staying peaceful amidst political confusion. Kenyans are extremely resilient even when stretched by divisive politics.

We are at peace awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on who is our next president or how we should proceed to solve the contested presidential election outcome.

However, there is a strong media campaign to get us over the presidential election outcome confusion by moving on with our lives. This push will cost this country going forward. Here is my perspective.

First, the last thing a friend needs to tell a friend who has lost a close relative like a parent is not to mourn because 'it is a sign you don’t trust in life after death'.

Mourning, bad advice goes, is for non-believers. Psychologists and counsellors are very strong in encouraging never to rush from a negative experience.

Stay at that 'scene of crime' and face the pain. Only then will healing happen faster and move on with life. Unmourned moments or deceptive healing, we are advised, is dangerous. It will revisit years later at a high cost.

The disputed presidential election outcome has polarised Kenyans, once again. We have to gather courage and face the ugly, painful and unpleasant truth on what exactly happened. This is the fourth time we are facing a similar problem.

Those who feel that the election is over and therefore everyone should move on before understanding the truth of what happened, and heal, should remember that we are each other’s keeper.

Second, let the truth set us all free. The 2022 presidential election confusion risks damaging the future active participation of millions of Kenyans in public affairs if casually and manipulatively handled. Media coverage is all but inviting all Kenyans to put behind us the elections. Hold on.

Supreme Court Building, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

Time is not running out on anyone. The false sense of going ahead will not enable us know what the problem is every time we have a presidential election result announced. Remember how the crowd shouted for Jesus to be crucified based on false propaganda.

Third, it is not about who won and who lost. It is about feeling with those who want to erupt with joy for the presidential election outcome but because in the same family relatives are hurt, they cannot.

It is about those who are hurt, justifiably or not, and are struggling to understand what the legitimate presidential outcome is. 

Of course, the Supreme Court will partially answer this question. However, what is legally right is not necessary morally right.

Sensitivity to both pained winners and pained unsuccessful candidates and their supporters calls for staying a little longer at the 'scene of crime'.

Fourth, we are losing out a whole generation of youngsters. A major dispute like the presidential outcome has the potential to give lifelong wrong lessons to children and youth. This dispute is way beyond legal redress.

We have to care to pass on values to the younger generation that individual and collective decisions fall within what Emmanuel Kant calls 'the categorical imperative'.

That is, my decision ought to be so good that it could apply to even my dearest relative. How we handle this dispute will shape the future we pass on to the children. It is unforgivable to ruin the future of 'this little one' as the Bible tells us.

Truth is painful yet it heals. We cannot go on as if we live in a post-truth Kenya. We risk rewarding or punishing those who deserve either victory or loss.

-Dr Mokua is executive director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communication