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Why our politics is too depressing

By Treeza Muhando | February 13th 2021

South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro (in black) fights with Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati in Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

One of the greatest calamities of human existence is that the most critical aspects of our lives are in the hands of politicians. These range from healthcare, to education, infrastructure and formulation of social policy. By and large, our lives are dictated by some of the most selfish individuals.

Today there are videos on social platforms of the theatrics that marked the burial of Deputy Governor Joash Maangi’s father in Kisii County. The most (unfortunately) entertaining is that of Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and South Mugirango’s Silvanus Osoro. In what was meant to be an intimate send-off ceremony, the duo presented mourners with an underwhelming spectacle of disgrace. Osoro disagreed with Arati’s sentiments by attempting to knock his teeth out. Unfortunately for him, and to the dismay of right-thinking people, Arati was just as quick and were it not for the mob of security officials, we probably could have witnessed death at a funeral.

In the same burial, nominated senator Millicent Omanga was politely asked to step down from the podium. It is unclear why she resisted, but she did and a crowd of men descended on the stage, surrounding her, engaging in a scuffle before she was forcefully ejected.

It should not escape you that in attendance were Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga. The two are currently in a fierce fight against and for the now infamous BBI. This Dickensian behaviour portrayed by Arati and Osoro is predicated on a need for them to enthral their respective masters, even at the expense of a grieving family. These political minions, who are elected to mirror who we are, and who we choose to represent us as a nation, neglected a grieving family. Notably, neither Ruto nor Raila publicly condemned this behaviour.

The aftermath of these events, and a litany of others recently, has invited a series of debates on twitter. Many agree that the wrestlers were beyond any doubt wrong. It is the specifics of the arguments that are interesting. As a generality, men do not quickly chastise their fellow men in the realm of violence. It is seen as a show of might. A medium to settle scores and to an inexplicable degree, invite mutual respect. That they fought is not particularly an issue. Where they fought is the problem. They are described as loud, boisterous, notorious and even unruly in an elaborate disquisition that sidesteps the ramifications of their actions on a larger scale. Why are we only scratching the surface in conversations that inform how we coexist and what our youth are able to interact with from these alleged role models?

Kenya is devoid of leadership and constrained in its sense of direction. We have a president lollygagging the country fervently campaigning for BBI and a deputy president pointing out his administration’s ills on Twitter like the rest of us. Additionally, we must appreciate that we are still in the depths of a global pandemic ravaging the world and mutating as it sweeps across continents. Jobs have been lost, taxes are high, basic needs are continuously out of reach and we are collectively dealing with loss of loved ones, incomes and normalcy. A majority is barely getting by. Yet our politics remains divisive and violent.

Such instances of violence have a trickle effect. I was alive when such a pattern of seemingly isolated cases of violent disagreements between politicians led to the 2007/08 post-election skirmishes. Their inability to be disagreeable within the bounds of reason directly informs our intolerance as neighbours, because politicians have supporters, who follow and agree with their submissions. For purposes of this argument I will submit that in different places, there are ordinary folk who fall on different sides of this BBI debate and might now feel emboldened to only disagree with the next person, violently. One hopes that we collectively decide against this rhetoric that we must only debate with our fists.

-The writer comments on topical and political issues.   

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