Kenya needs more truth lovers in leadership to run citizens' affairs

Debris on fire along the Expressway in Mlolongo during Azimio la Umoja demonstrations on July 12, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Truth is looking for Kenyan friends. Truth longs for friends who will unashamedly demonstrate a public display of affection. 

Truth that is only of private value but is muted in public is not truly true.  Truth liberates. Lies oppress. Truth illumines. Lies mislead. Oppressors therefore will have lies for a mother tongue. Lying is addictive. Lying is a teachable vice. Benefits of lying are praised and its downside downplayed.  Those who share lying as a worldview build a community that mocks, hates and even eliminates truth tellers. 

Deceivers sharpen their lying tongue to present their proposition in a way you will receive it as truth. Hence the biblical image of demons who wear white and the hyenas clad in sheep skin. Just  like the geographical position of a place can be mapped, the truth about every situation exists, even if it is not articulately defined.  This exact truth is the ultimate truth. Before the ultimate truth, approximate and seeming truths are exposed.

In Kenya, you must have a third ear.  Without it, you will easily be scammed.  A third ear positions you to interrogate what leaders say. Lack of interrogation leads to blind adoption of the narrative of your favourite politician. Politicians cherish this lazy mode – where people wait for their views, own them and passionately propagate them as their own without scrutiny.

Truth matters. Even a thief does not want to be lied to.  A gang leader, as illicit as his affairs may be, demands loyalty and truth for his members. The public, though they have lies of their own, do not want a government that lies to them. They want a government that sets standards of what is right. They almost want the government to be their parent – setting an example in all things – including truthfulness.  But most governments do not want to be parents. They want power without parenting so as to perpetuate their personal and party interests.

An open truth about Kenya’s current administration and the opposition is that they both want power. Those in government want the power in full while the opposition wants to be powerful. The government will do whatever it takes to make its propositions absorbed by the public as truth. The opposition will do all it can to maintain its momentum as the champion of the people – whether this is authentic or not.

Both government and opposition will do anything – including lying – to sell versions of their truth.  For both, the power is with the people - their power generators.  Ironically, life in the present season has been rough and people feel powerless. Truth is that people are in want and desire an easing from life’s pressures.  So we are at a crossroad of truths.

To expect a system manned by thieves to deliver integrity is expecting water from a stone.  Some leaders, speaking

while picking their teeth, swear that they cannot eat their people’s money.  They give cash handouts while vowing how safe the tax money is under their watch. They lie with an excellence worthy a lifetime achievement honor at the deception awards. You could strike this stone for five years but the Moses miracle of water gushing out of a rock will not repeat itself.  Their lies will leave you dry.

In institutions where serving the people is only a masquerade, a screen saver to cover sins behind the scenes, truth tellers are considered a liability. They are excluded from certain decision tables where warped business is discussed.  Their truthfulness is an undesirable risk. They are flagged as potential betrayers. Their anti-deception stance makes them lie busters. Some are stagnated, threatened and others demoted or even fired to make lies and its agents comfortable. Scandals are a yield of busted secrets. 

Our country needs more truth lovers in leadership.  While some politicians do describe themselves as “honest” and “truthful,” such honesty and truthfulness should not be biased but balanced.  When truth is only a weapon to use on rivals, it is reduced to a tool of convenience and a proclamation of home-made righteousness. Truth requires a humble acceptance when you too are wrong, even to the extent of self-criticism. Truth is not a dog to only unleash on the enemy. You must allow it to bite you too. 

Truth does not stand alone but comes in a virtues package.  To be truthful means having a grounded sense of accountability – a loyalty to principles and people beyond betrayal.  For one to be truthful, they must love deeply to an extent that they cannot lie – for love rejoices in the truth. For one to be truth-

ful, they are likely to be positively spiritual, owing their allegiance to one higher than themselves.  The same applies for lies. They come as a vice package. Lying comes along with a lowly view of others.  The liar views others unworthy of the truth.  A liar is not empathetic and cares less when the other person is misled.  Lying is malicious and pushes relationships to the corner of betrayal. Lying is laced with selfishness, fuels disconnection and sows conflict.  Since God is truth, lying is an indicator of an affair with darkness.   

The question then goes: is there a “good lie”? This is a contradiction in itself.  That a lie can save a situation does not make the lie a truth. When lies save and truth endangers, a fault in human relationships caused by an assault on truth comes to the fore.  There are dilemmas where lies can play a tactical role to prevent a further lie, in which case the output is good.

Lies are sometimes employed to deceive the deceiver in order to expose the truth. In such circumstances, it can be argued that the situational nobility of serving the truth stratifies the specific untruths in the zone of wisdom. Such are unique circumstances where lies shed their sting and do not stand to compete with the truth but rather collaborate for its establishment. These are lies that have seen the light! 

This should not be interpreted to mean that truth needs a “back up” of lies to survive. Truth is not an alloy. It is pure. Any truth that needs an impurity to firm it up is only an approximate truth – a shadow of the ultimate. Lies in their pure form exist to distract the truth and compound more lies to build the kingdom of deception.  But though lies rival truth, they cannot equal or be superior to it.