You Should Go To Jail For Not Voting!
By Malik Mureu
| January 19th 2017
Kenya has become a country of whiners. A glance at our social media landscape reveals a concoction of complains that would fill up the Menengai Crater twice. The issues range from rising costs of living, unemployment to falling educational standards and run away looting of public coffers. We rarely pick on anything positive to talk about and have religiously subscribed to the media maxim ‘what bleeds, leads’ which is said to be the criteria of how editors pick headline stories.
While raising your voice against an ill is quite commendable and should be encouraged, raising your voice alone will not solve the issues facing this country. The struggle for freedom in Kenya is well documented for those who care to read. Whereas our initial struggle was to fight off the colonialists who had turned us into slaves, at independence the struggle was against; Disease, illiteracy and poverty. Fast forward to 2017 and though we have gone through many other challenges, we seem to have turned a complete circle and returned to 1963.
Our health sector is struggling, our education is limping and poverty is rising. The Jubilee government deserves a pat on the back for operationalizing devolution following a shared government that spent more time infighting than delivering service to the people. The key infrastructural investments that are slowly nearing completion shall go a long way in alleviating poverty and enabling investment across the country.
Unlike 1963, we now have legally entrenched platforms to air our opinion regarding how the country is run. Better still, we have a tried and tested weapon that is accorded every adult Kenyan i.e. the vote. Kenyans on social media have won many accolades for using technology to right many wrongs. They also remain very vocal on how the biggest political institution; the government should be run. This is a good sign of a healthy democracy. The bone I have to pick with these very learned and informed types is many of them do not vote!
Question then begs, how can someone be so well informed of their rights yet they do not exercise the fundamental ones? Is it the long and winding queues under the scorching sun? Is it the ‘not your class’ crowd and ‘smelly’ Kenyans pushing against you to vote that you abhor? Is it the idea that not voting denies the pot-bellied politician your affirmation? Is it the possibility of violent outcomes that informs why you cart off your whole family to The USA with the likelihood of asking for political asylum in case the country burns?
Whatever your pick on the menu is, you are the reason why Kenya is not where you want it to be! You my friend are no different from the terrorist who comes to destroy and scatter. By refusing to vote, you deny this country a voice. You will sun bath and maybe get a tan in Brazil while your fellow countrymen scorch in the sun to make their voices heard. You will convince yourself that you have exercised your right but in reality the only thing you would have exercised is you fear ridden, poorly informed, purpose deficient self. Not only have you instilled fear in your offspring and relations, you have also reversed the gains achieved through blood and tears by your forefathers.
It is through the vote that we take collective control of the management of our shared resources. It is through the vote that we ensure people of good standing are bestowed power to make decisions for the larger public. The vote is a powerful tool that should not be locked in a toolshed and left to rust. It should be utilized to dig out corruption, slash tribalism, weed out favoritism and trim government excesses.
I propose compulsory voting to ensure that your type come out and fight. Compulsory voting should be tied to all systems of government such that you cannot transact until evidence of voting is produced. You will not own property, sell it or purchase without voting. You will not be married without evidence of voting. You will not get a passport, driving license or degree certificate without evidence of voting. It is important that we make life miserable for those who create misery by not voting.
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