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The blame narrative is getting old, an angry president cannot console a crying citizenry

President William Ruto receives the Presidential Ceremonial Sword from his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta at Kasarani Stadium on September 13, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kenyans are sad. The nation’s mood is low. The fireworks died too quickly. One would hope they would have translated into Kenyans fired up to work, but where there is no work there is no fire.

Then there is the tax fire that burns the work. The New Year is struggling to gain a hopeful bearing. Rough news is clouding the Good News. An angry presidency is not consoling a crying citizenry.

We are told not to lose hope. But what if the ones telling you not to lose hope are the thieves of hope? You lose hope because they stole it.

Something is amiss. The verbal and body language of the leaders collaborate and tell that all is not well.

There is a frustration – a breakdown. Blackouts seem to be hitting our leadership too. We neither feel their love nor see their confidence. We see the putting up of brave faces. We do not see passion.

We have lost the science of persuasion. Instead, we have resorted to forcefulness. Wit is rare while trial and error is abundant. Conviction is scarce. Politicians are saying things they do not believe – their lips are easy to read.

There is a tension whose creaking sounds have travelled all the way to the villages. We are swinging, dangerously. 

The economy song has a chorus of numbers being forcefully bent to tell a triumphant story. But the people’s numbers tell a sharply contradicting reality. Hustler and Wanjiku’s numbers are terrorizing. 

The shopping cart asked the shopper, “Why don’t you fill me up anymore?” The shopper responded, “The shilling no longer runs the marathon – it now does short races.” 

The relationship between leaders and the people is no longer at ease. They are not on the same page. Actually, they are reading different scripts.

The government sign saying “Harder times ahead” is a tough welcome to a new year. Whatever the timelines of recovery, it is pretentious for the leaders to keep singing the “Tough-times” song with the people while nothing in their voices evidences the said toughness. Their belching betrays them. Their growing bellies tell of another story.

The veil that once was over Kenyans’ eyes has been torn. The hypocrisy of the leaders is bare before their eyes. Their language of suffering is a tactical narrative.

They and their friends - including clergy friends - are not suffering. They are reaping by ripping the people apart. The consequence is the Babel syndrome –leaders and people on different frequencies.  

Deflecting is the new tactic. Blame is the new language. When people express their suffering, they are pointed to the blame bypass. This blame bypass transports people to locate their problems in previous political eras.

The trip comes complete with a history tour guide. Excluded from the blame-stopover is the late President Mwai Kibaki who the regime designers own as one of them.

The present leadership is all about seizing the successes while dumping their failures to another era.

Theirs is the triumph and the glory – they never trip nor go wrong. They are the parents who boast all the trophies of their children but post all losses to the grandparents. They are the saintly altar boys who paint their predecessors as imps.   

But this blaming approach is getting old and is changing to a ridiculous colour. The regime needs to get its creatives to work and make new punching bags! He is dangerous who only wants to be celebrated. She is dangerous who does no wrong. 

Sainthood is given, not grabbed. There comes a time when you must own the past - the good and the ugly - as your own story. A driver cannot attribute their loss of direction to the previous owner of the car.

They must own up to their poor map-reading skills. You cannot go forward with your head turned back. The back has no eyes.

As a leadership style, the eyes-to-the-past approach will lead to a stiff neck. The rest is a bad experiment.

The only one who can risk the crash is one with a parachute to deploy! But the hustler, with no shock absorbers to soften the landing, takes the raw fall.

Promise factory

The promise that the present pain is temporary and that good times are around the corner falls in the heap of the many others made and forgotten. It stirs no excitement. The present regime is a promise factory with no execution machinery.

The trust levels have dipped to an all-time low. Promise-making for this leadership season is a political narrative that people are now learning not to take literally.

Initially, people would peg their expectations on the promises and hopes were high. But experience has become the dictionary with which people now interpret the meaning of a promise. 

In the context of the present leadership, a promise is a positive response running on the fuel of deception made by a vote-conscious conscienceless politician!

It is time for political leaders to be clear on where their loyalty lies. There comes a time when a leader must speak out even when their party demands silence.

To be silent while the people are suffering is to suffocate them – suffocate the very people you took an oath to keep alive.

People need to feel their leader is with them – with them in their suffering. But more and more people are concluding that their leaders are the architects of their suffering. 

People are feeling lonely and leaderless. New layers of leadership are emerging in local communities. For abandoning the people, elected leaders who were once cheered are increasingly encountering jeers.

In some places, they will be branded as not useful and rendered unnecessary. Politicians must then decide whether their survival will go the way of holding on party positions or heeding to the voice of their people.

Okiya Omtatah does most of his press conferences all alone. Other political leaders do not associate with him and his positions publicly.

He is a risky friend to have! He is flanked by his spirituality on one hand and the Constitution on the other and deems the two enough. He does God’s work. For him, personal principles precede political alliances.

His is a road less travelled. His approach is that being a friend of the Constitution is the way to be a friend to the nation.

The Constitution by itself has many promises, and respecting, protecting and following it delivers a lot for the people. 

By Brian Ngugi 42 mins ago
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