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Ego will drive Kenyans into the gutter

By Tania Ngima | May 31st 2016
Tania Ngima

Two months ago I wrote that Kenya was slowly ascending into anarchy, and if we were not careful we would find ourselves re-enacting a ‘Hotel Rwanda’ in our very own backyard after the 2017 elections.

I was referring to the bile and hatred that we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into, the tribal politics that speak more of self-aggrandising than the governance we should expect from our leaders.

I was referring to our agreeing to be used as pawns in battles that we have no business in engaging in.

In refusing to stand up and state ‘enough is enough’. One of my readers wrote and accused me of being unnecessary and alarmist. We agreed to disagree.

But afterwards, I decided to consider his contrary opinion and admit that maybe, I was being a tad pessimistic.

But from the events of the last two weeks, I have come full circle back to my former position. We are hurtling towards disaster with our eyes wide open.

Now, I have a disclaimer to make before I get on this diatribe. We have got to the point where every conversation we have leading up to heated elections (such as the upcoming ones) is considered to be partisan.

It therefore becomes very difficult to have an objective discussion about the real issues without spiraling into a mudslinging contest against tribes, and their perceived representatives.

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I have also said, severally, that I am at the point of not caring who ascends into leadership.

I am at the point of caring more about systems than personalities; I am too disillusioned to continue thinking that there is any legitimacy in hedging our bets on a ‘saviour’.

All this energy we’re expending, we should be using to strengthen our systems to ensure that Kenya’s Constitution and the resulting rule of law is followed for the good of the country and not for a select few.

I am decidedly non-partisan and I could do without the emails I get insisting that I am standing on a soapbox because of my ethnic affiliations.

Now that that is out of the way, let us talk about the last two weeks, the riots erupting after anti IEBC protests and how we all became unwitting collateral damage in a struggle that was never ours to begin with.

Kenyans, I get it.

There are times when we feel like we have nothing more to lose, like we have been pushed to the edge and all we want to grasp is for any avenue to vent our frustrations.

In some of the pictures of the demonstrations, I saw a man who had the full wrath of the police meted out on him in such an inhumane manner that you could feel the collective recoil.

The children, caught up in the horror of the skirmishes and teargas, a situation that turned tragic faster than they could outrun it.

The flagrant abuse by the police of their powers, the desecration of the very basic human rights that they are meant to protect.

And the lives that were lost because we agree to be used as pawns in a hostility borne of the desire for power and the refusal to access more reasonable, rational and judicious means of resolution.

I have spoken of the necessity for a revolution if all else fails. The difference between the events of the past two weeks and a true revolution is that in the latter case, those in the front lines are fully aware of the endgame and the sacrifices that have to be made in order to secure a better future for our children and the generations to come.

The front line is not an unsuspecting mass that has been pushed into being human shields by the desperation of poverty and a choice-less existence.

It is not the young man who was taunting fully armored police, drunken in transient, imaginary power, not realizing that his life could be snuffed out in a heartbeat and he would not even go down as a political martyr but as unnecessary collateral damage.

We have just over a year until our elections. And yet, lives have already been lost in what was supposed to be (and in all honesty could have been) peaceful demonstrations were it not the heavy handedness that accompanied them.

Am I dreaming or do I recall being given assurances by leaders across the board that post the ICC fiasco, no lives would be lost because of an election?

Is this merely a sign of things to come? Have we gone so past the point of reason that we are going to let our egos lead the country into anarchy instead of sitting across the table from our adversaries and make a few compromises for the electorate?

Do we as Kenyans have the right to expect that the decisions politicians in positions of leadership make are in our collective interests as opposed to the whims of a narrow few?

Or is this cavalier attitude towards human life all we can expect over the next one year?

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