SECTIONS

Voters should learn from past electoral mistakes

Unfortunately, the voters never learn. [iStockphoto]

This week, I travelled to my rural village and witnessed the usual euphoria about elections. Young people, many of them intoxicated, thronged the streets waiting for aspirants to give them a few coins to enable them to go back to their dens and continue drinking themselves to a stupor.

For politicians, large crowds boost their egos. The larger the crowd, the more satisfied an aspirant becomes. A caravan of fuel guzzlers meanders through the dusty and unpaved roads with deafening sounds of campaign songs. To my surprise, the youth of my village have memorised the campaign songs of all the candidates from the presidential to their local ward candidates. 

Every five years, this routine is repeated and immediately after the elections, life goes back to normal. Let me share with you some grim statistics. The rate of youth unemployment in my hometown is about 75 per cent. Teenage pregnancy is rife and the use of an illicit drug called ‘Kete’ is common. Thousands of these youths are hooked on these drugs. Right from when they are in boarding school, many young users are inducted into the habit and later become the target market for drug peddlers.

During the election season, some of those hooked on these drugs fill the streets and cheer any candidate who pays. The rate of poverty is astonishing. In my villages, there are people who have not had a decent meal for a very long time. The politicians protruding through the sunroofs of their SUVs speak loudly, demonising opponents and driving around marketplaces because that is where to find large crowds. The speech is generally the same; lacking imagination with the usually rhetorical question; “what has he done for you?” I am using the masculine pronoun ‘he’ because most of the time the candidates are male.

Considering the patriarchal nature of society, most women have been pushed to the periphery of elective positions save for a few isolated cases and those running for the affirmative seat for women. In my village, Martha Karua is not yet the talk of the town despite the excitement in other areas because people still wrongly believe the place of women is in the kitchen. Villagers from my area are also surprised by what happened to the menfolk in Kirinyaga. The leading contenders for the place of origin of the Agikuyu people are women.

I suspect they are not aware that in the Kikuyu mythology, there was a woman called Wangu wa Makeri who once ruled her people with an iron fist. Once again Kirinyaga, which is believed to be the land given to the Kikuyu people by Ngai, according to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in his book ‘Facing Mount Kenya’, is being led by Mumbi - Anne Mumbi Waiguru. The poor people are always the victims of predatory leaders who like to promise heaven but disappear soon after they are elected. Unfortunately, the voters never learn. They keep on repeating the same thing hoping to get a different result.

Mr. Guleid is CEO, Frontier Counties Development Council. [email protected]