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What voters should consider while choosing next president

OPINION
By Babere Chacha | November 2nd 2021

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

In 2013, President Barack Obama's envoy to Africa Johnnie Carson delivered a strong message to Kenyans and warned that choices have consequences. Carson had foreseen impending political dangers when he told Kenyans that national leaders are responsible for their actions and that those actions would not only affect Kenyans.

He warned that the outcome of the election could have implications beyond our borders since a president works with the international community.

In 2013, Kenyans were fooled by a public show of unity when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto came together, attracting national and global attention. The two inspired hope with their campaign credo that promised to replace the 'analogue' leadership style with 'digital' energy. 

An excited public saw in the leaders the unity that Kenyans were looking for. Life was good, the marriage was strong and the future looked bright. But it was all a mirage. That unity is no more.

Fortunately, however, we have another chance to choose. Let’s take advantage of hindsight and make a sound decision. It is never late to pick our ideal leaders.

With the presidential election around the corner, there will be plenty of analysts, pundits, and opinion writers talking about and assessing the character of candidates, and debating which ones will most likely make the best leaders.

But many prospective voters are flummoxed by what they see as the fundamental question: Who should be an ideal Kenyan president? Shall we elect a populist president or a performing one? 

Niccolò Machiavelli often mocked conventional wisdom and spoke of an ideal leader as someone to be both feared and loved. He argued that love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage.

But he also held that fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails. On the other hand, Bismarck held that the question of the day in Prussia would not be determined by its liberalism but by its power...by iron and blood. 

I don’t believe anymore that Kenyans should elect populist leaders or the so-called  'man of the people' or someone with a great deal of charisma. As it has been said by spiritual leaders, the greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their innermost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall-men of integrity. 

Kenyans are hungry for a leader who is authentic, not a pretender. Not someone who has both private and public face. We need a leader whose thoughts, words and actions are in alignment with a set of genuine values.

Kenya needs a leader who will recognise the legitimate interests of diverse ethnic, racial and religious groups; that this country is truly is a country of diversity. Kenyan needs someone who will not take advantage of those lines to divide them, but one who will understand how the needs and aspirations of diverse groups overlap and intersect in a universal right to opportunity.

We should elect a leader who respects human rights and who is tolerant. We want a leader who will be realistic and who will promote these ideals around the globe.

Above all, we should shun presidential aspirant who stand before us and hurl abuses at opponents while expecting cheers and applause from Kenyans. I think we are beyond that. We need humble leaders. It been said that leaders are more powerful when they are humble. Let our vision coalesce around sound ideology and national goals and not corrupt individuals and or ethnicity. 

Being a citizens of the African’s biggest democracies, it is not only our right but a responsibility to elect the right people to lead the country.

Only those who perform their duty towards the nation have the right to raise their voices against the system.

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