Mavoko evictions and Kenya's 'accept and move on' culture

A woman gasps as a bulldozer demolishes a home in Athi River. The land the evictees occupied had a mother title under a company called Aimi Ma Lukenya. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

The culture of "accept and move on" will eat the remaining skeleton of the moral fabric of what holds Kenyans as one people if we do not strategically stop it.

As if rampant corruption that has cleared the flesh of our national moral consciousness does not offend any law of the land, the brutal manner in which we treat each other whenever we have differences is slowly, but steadily catching up with where corruption has placed us.

I am talking about inhumane evictions. Last week, house demolition and property destruction at Mavoko, Machakos County, was carried out in a brutal, insensitive and inhumane manner.

The evictions exemplify a country whose conscience is in the intensive care unit. The question is not who is right or wrong or who is the owner or not, the question we ought to answer revolves around the options the government has if and when it must evict people.

Human dignity is the basic and fundamental right a human being has, regardless of their status in life. That is why, other than the racist arrests and broad daylight killings as we saw in the case of George Floyd in the US, all suspects have a right to a fair trial.

The Mavoko residents deserved a hearing or mediation at the very least. The speed at which the eviction was carried out shows how the effects of "accept and move on" have mutated from politics to mishandling fellow human beings.

It is not possible that engaging the residents would have led to a stalemate regardless of how long the process would have taken. People have invested time and resources and have a right therefore to a just process if they must relocate.

Besides, the fat cats that are after the property must know that being the rightful owner does not give one a licence to manhandle others. Rights are not weapons to haul at others.

For us to be humane, we must look back to the culture of "accept and move on" and how it has taken root not just in political contests, but now, even in the lower levels of society.

Well-connected people have come to the realisation that whatever one desires can be gotten regardless of how. Some of us are behaving like King Ahab. He wanted the Naboth's vineyard, and he got it in spite of how he did so.

The tolerance of this insensitive culture of accepting and moving on has become the new way of inflicting pain on innocent people and letting the ever-gracious time to heal them. Evicting people in Kenya is nothing new.

Every time it happens, we condemn the brutality with which it is done and voila, we resume our daily routines as victims nurse the wounds and count losses. Some people never recover from such losses for the rest of their lives.

The Mavoko evictions remind us that African governments, in particular, don't care about the poor. As Donal Trump called us out, we treat each other like shit. A majority of those people evicted live hand to mouth as the cost of living soars.

Taking away the little they have robs them of the little dignity they are left with. What gains were the property owners after, that are more than empathising with fellow human beings?

As a country, we need introspection. Wrongs cannot continually be solved through accepting and moving on.

It is important, for healing to happen, to put our fingers on wrongs committed against people who cannot afford to seek justice in the court of law, because of the time and cost required.

The Mavoko evictees need justice for the manner in which they have been thrown out. No action means they must accept and move on.

In the same way, we have condemned the loss of innocent life in the Russia-Ukraine and the Israel-Palestine wars, we must stand by the victims of brutal evictions. The government cannot perpetuate a culture that dehumanises its own people.

The Mavoko evictions provide an opportunity for the Kenya Kwanza government to do the right thing: Reverse the culture of "accept and move on."

-Dr Mokua is Executive Director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communication

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