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ELECTION 2022

As we remember past atrocities, let’s raise our ante against hate messaging and propaganda

LETTERS
By Muthoki Kithanze | Jan 28th 2022 | 2 min read
Post-election violence - Kenya 2008. [File, Standard]

The most sinister events in the history of mankind were uncovered in the final days of the Second World War when Allied troops ploughed Germany-occupied territories to be met by a sea of scrawny, sick people. 

The discovery of these killing camps where millions of Jews and other segments of the population were tortured, subjected to slavery conditions, and ultimately killed in the most callous form laid bare the extent of man’s cruelty. Determined not to have these events forgotten or repeated, the UN set January 27 as the day to remember all those who died as a result of intolerance, hatred, and bigotry.

As the world marked this day on Thursday, it will serve Kenyans well to draw lessons from such an unfortunate time in history, and more so now as the country prepares for elections.

The first lesson we can learn lies in this year’s guiding theme; memory, dignity, and justice. The theme puts an emphasis on the importance of remembering those that died and challenging historical distortions. Remembering Kenya’s post-election violence where individuals died and many were displaced serves as a reference point of the consequences of hate-driven politics, apathy, and propaganda. Reminding ourselves of the atrocities that befell our fellow countrymen allows us to reflect on our actions and inactions.

Recollecting also acknowledges that indeed our brothers and sisters were faced with unimaginable horrors, thus paving the way for total healing and reconciliation. Denial of transgressions can only achieve undesirable outcomes such as animosity.

The second lesson is the danger of propaganda. At the heart of the German atrocities was the manufacturing of lies. Here in our country, we have seen politicians lead the way in making inflammatory remarks with the aim of causing discord.

Politicians will work up a crowd by slandering their political nemesis and by the extent the communities associated with them. Such careless oratory plants seeds of resentment and intolerance.

It then becomes our responsibility to consume information that is verified, trusted, and free of hate. More than ever, our alertness ought to be heightened as the blaze of misinformation is upon us. As Kenyans, the burden of our neighbour’s wellbeing should weigh heavily upon us. We should call out leaders, uniformed forces, and the public who are pitting communities against each other.

We should stand bothered when elements within our society are using unethical techniques to advance their course. More than a thousand Kenyans were killed during the 2007 post-election violence. And that is just a conservative number. 

Letter from Muthoki Kithanze, Nairobi 

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