We must do all we can to silence the drums of war
By David Oginde
| August 8th 2021
There seems to be a troubling sound in the Kenyan atmosphere – drums of war beating at a distance. The rumbles have grown disturbingly louder after the recent Deputy President William Ruto’s Uganda trip drama.
For peace loving Kenyans, the noise emanating from various quarters, and especially through social media has been unnerving. I have personally watched video clips, read tweets, and perused blogs from across the divide that are totally reckless in tone and inciting in content.
It is reminiscent of the 2007 campaign messaging that was extremely provocative and uncontrolled. Unless we take pre-emptive measures, we could find ourselves in the hell of 2007/8, if not worse.
The reality of contests for leadership is that they draw out the best and worst of our passions – especially so in political and religious leadership. In situations of uncertainty, when individuals emerge with demonstrable charisma, the following they attract can easily become cultic – many times unintentionally.
In Kenya, Kenneth Matiba, Raila Odinga, and now William Ruto have inadvertently drawn near “cultic” following. In the days of Matiba, his supporters got into a frenzy at the mention of his name. When he was arrested in 1990, at least 20 people were killed in riots that followed his detention. Upon his release, he travelled to Britain for medical attention, but on his return, the crowds that thronged the airport and lined the roads to welcome him back were uncontrollable.
Raila has held a similar sway upon his supporters. The height of it was in 2017 when he became a captive of his own followers who insisted he must be sworn in as their president. From the look of things, Ruto is slowly morphing into one such leader, with his followers becoming more devout and sometimes radical.
Records indicate that managing such followers can be tricky – both for their leader and the government. That is why in such circumstances, both leaders and government must act with utmost dexterity in the interest of national peace. Such leaders must therefore weigh their words, measure their steps, and be circumspect in all they do. Like the driver of a petrol tanker, he or she must be cognisant of the damage their cargo could cause should it be mishandled.
Thankfully, history is replete with men and women who managed their followers with great wisdom and tack. When David fled from King Saul for dear life, all those in distress, in debt, or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. David soon moulded these men into a great force that became known as “the mighty men of David.” These men were fierce and fearless in their defence and service to David. Yet he consistently restrained them with firmness.
At his arrest, Jesus had to step in and rescue a man whose ear Peter had chopped off. He warned Peter, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”
Martin Luther King likewise consistently returned ears that his followers had chopped off, preferring a non-violence revolution. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, it was the expectation of the black community that their time had come to avenge their years of oppression. But Mandela stood firm declaring, “Though the white man be full of prejudice and hate, we must move forward to embrace the horizon of hope.” Thus he steered the nation into a continental superpower.
The truth here is that a true leader cannot simply savour the sight of his or her dogs rip the flesh of real or perceived enemies. On the other hand, government must equally exercise great restraint in a politically charged environment.
For example, it was great wisdom when in 2018 the government tactfully allowed the Raila swearing in ceremony to proceed. Amazing how that menacing crowd eventually melted peacefully through the city. Yet, trying to disperse them could have resulted in a major bloodbath. As we head towards a highly contested 2022 elections, such magnanimity and tack is absolutely needed.
We are at a time when Covid-19 has created high octane distress in many. A little spark could raze this nation down into ashes – as witnessed in the recent destructive riots in South Africa. Let us all work together to silence these drums of war.
Controversial Lang’ata accident: King’ori Mwangi speaks as police claim no complaint filed yetMwangi says he was driving on the right side of traffic when the two pedestrians dashed to cross the road
Opening Ceremony: Kenya takes her pride of place as 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games beginTeam Kenya Paralympics strolled majestically into the Tokyo Olympic Stadium led by captain Rodgers Kiprop and Powerlifter Hellen Wawira for the Openin
Disappointment as Ruto fails to attend funds drive
- Two schools closed as police arrest a teacher over arson attack
- Rang’ala Boys closed indefinitely after students become unruly, demand for holidays
- Ranguma drops governorship bid, endorses Obura for seat
- Mwingi deaths could have been avoided
- Unity test for Mudavadi party as big three eye Kakamega top seat