The discovery of the three murdered children of KANU aspirant James Ratemo in Uasin Gishu county is the stuff of nightmares. Even as the investigation into their deaths is ongoing the initial belief is that the little ones were the unfortunate target of political rivalries between their father and others. Upon further scrutiny, the reason for their demise could point to extreme ethnic hatred exacted by a relative. Nothing in the world can possibly justify the torture and killing of little children and we are totally horrified by this act.
It’s difficult not to think the worst in these elections; the stakes seem to be extremely high and alarming reports surfaced each week of the nominations process. From the abductions of MCAs who end up drugged, beaten and dazed to actual murders occurring in some counties, the targeted violence that politicians are facing is quite disturbing. What is our country coming to?
We seem to have come to the final conclusion after decades of entrenched acrimonious politics; not just politics of mud-slinging and one-upmanship but the kind of politics that opts to literally dehumanize opponents. 2017 political atmosphere was crafted in 2007 ethnic violence and it is terrifying.
The objectives of the constitution were to diffuse this sort of conflicts. The premise is supposedly that, given that there is inadequate and often ethnically biased representation in the National Assemblies and government, the first step to national inclusion would be to have a decentralized government system, and then allow the people to choose their representatives.
But we forgot one principal issue about Kenya politics. That it was never, EVER, about power being conferred to ethnic communities, or even tribalism, but it was about a political elite retaining power in the name of their communities, always hiding within tribal cocoons so as to retain the status quo.
The sort of chaos and shambles we see at the political party primaries is not just about a lack of organization on the part of the political party, but an exposure of the utter lack of democracy in a fragmented tribal society. It is not possible to claim democracy where your tribe matters, and it is not possible to represent your tribe when the cost to do so is exorbitant. Always, the politician will at once seek to recuperate whatever he spent during the elections, trying to woe his fellow tribesmen.
This is why the stakes are so high – were the issue merely about representing your ward in the name of your people, then other than the normal banter, and door to door “convincing through chai” most MCAs would not find it necessary to resort to violence because in the end the people would willing vote for their preference.
Since we have learned, as Kenyans, how to mimic our leaders, we finely extort our politicians during the electoral process in the name of becoming willing voters, and they in turn become ever more willing to go to extremes in order to retain their power (or gain it). That psychopathy seems to be silently endorsed in society; James Ratemo, though receiving condolences, also received unwarranted and unfair criticism of his ambitions, whether or not they contributed to his family’s loss.
We need to ask ourselves what kind of people we have become. Have we totally lost all humanity in the name of playing political musical chairs every 5 years? With thousands of aspirants to pick from in these elections, surely, we are spoiled for choice. Must we also make it a life and death situation?
As a nation, we seem to have bargained away the power over our lives to politicians, and in addition to that, we seem to have allowed the same political elite wield power over those they perceive as their challengers.
We shouldn’t be silent while aspirants are violated, attacked, drugged, abducted and killed simply because they vie for a post. We certainly shouldn’t ignore such psychopathic conduct and then vote in those that go to such extremes, literally handing them power over our own lives. That is how we dealt with things in the past, and that is the reason why even though we have greater representation we have less of our interests being served.
Kenyans need to take a stand against the sort of political violence going on, even within their wards. If anything, refusing to vote for a violent aspirant is a first step to reclaiming democracy at the local level. More importantly, consider protecting of lives of aspirants and their families as much as possible, especially in the face of political incitement. Nobody need lose their lives or be injured simply because of their political aspirations. Let’s breed tolerance even within our local communities.