Kenyans skip fete to celebrate Mashujaa Day, hinting freedom is yet to reach their hamlets

A low people turnout was experienced at Uhuru Gardens during the 59th Mashujaa day on  October 20,  2022. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

Only a month since Prezzo Bill Ruto took charge, his maiden national event, the Mashujaa Day that was marked yesterday, was well attended by dignitaries who filled the VIP dais to the rafters. This is just as it should be; this was a good week for some of the Cabinet nominees who were vetted this week.

All the Cabinet nominees, without exception, said they are multiple millionaires and are guaranteed to keep growing their wealth. One particular individual, the incoming Attorney General, Justin Muturi, had his net worth grow from Sh300m to 700m, in one just year.

On the other side of the “divide,” meaning the area reserved for ordinary Kenyans, stood stretches and stretches of empty seats. Since we don’t know the reason ordinary Kenyans gave the national celebration a wide berth, we can speculate and apply Riggy G’s evergreen brush of generalisation: the economy is so “dilapidated” ordinary Kenyans couldn’t afford fare to national events.

But all is not lost. There are many ways of rejuvenating public interest in the affairs of the State, and a major fete beckons in December, the Jamhuri Day. Since politics is about mobilisation, perhaps the Government could deploy the strategies used successfully in the recent campaigns: offer a small inducement to the first 50,000 people to the celebrations. It need not be offered in cash, though that would be helpful.

Another way is to ban live broadcasts from local media and use file images to foreground presidential addresses that have empty seats. It’s not an entirely original idea, but it has worked in the past. One could show huge crowds from past events to shore up Prezzo Ruto’s popularity, if only in perception.

After all, perception is everything. The image of empty seats might at a national fete might not create the image that our Prezzo desires for his “hustling” nation.