When I was a first year, Dekut elections were something interesting. There were chaos at election time. Not the destructive kind of chaos but the entertaining kind. I remember caravans of vehicles would follow each other around the school. Yes, I said caravans. They would be full of people who would mostly be high and drunk and thus very enthusiastic about their job. These comrades would go around blowing on their vuvuzelas, shouting themselves hoarse and waving posters of their favorite candidates. Their opponents would also do the same and I remember there would be showdowns when the rival sides met.
I remember politicians like Freddy and Roho Safi. They were charismatic people. They used to dress impeccably. When you were in their presence, you felt that you were undoubtedly in the presence of someone great, a leader. I remember people pointing to them as they passed and you would hear them whisper to each other, “Ndio yule Freddy” as they struggled to wave at him. Not that you could fail to notice him. These leaders turned heads everywhere they went. You could also hear girls gossiping about a girl and saying, “Ndio yule girlfriend ya Freddy.” Not only the leaders were famous but also the people they associated with.
Fast forward to today and… it’s just sad.
To start with, the candidates for the student council this year are running unopposed. UNOPPOSED. I thought the ECK had made a mistake when I first learnt about it. But its true, there simply is no competition for the top seats in Dekut. It’s like Raila running for the next election unopposed. The whole thing is unheard of. The weed we use in Dekut must be the worst kind. It’s an election and yet there are no choices. Is that an election?
Tell me, as a comrade, why would you go and vote, knowing full well that your vote does not count at all? I mean, whichever person you vote for as delegate, there will be no difference. At the end of the day, there is only one nominee for each seat. They might as well be sworn in tomorrow and save us all the trouble.
Traditionally, we hold a debate. I agree that the debate has been nothing but a waste of time in the past. But at least it was a debate with two opposing sides. And therefore, if you didn’t have anything else to do on the day it was held, attending the debate was an entertaining way to pass your afternoon. This time, there will be only one side. Again, is that a debate?
I’m now an alumnus of the school and I probably shouldn’t be concerning myself with its affairs. But I loved Dekut with all its shortcomings and I still love it. Which is why I had to comment on this sorry state of affairs. The political scene in Dekut has been deteriorating fast. It has been becoming more and more impossible to have real leaders. Not because the people in office don’t have the qualities of leadership but because they are leading no one.
Right now, if you take the photos of the outgoing Dekutso officials and go stopping people on the road and asking them whether they know the people in those photos, you will be surprised. Ask people who is the outgoing treasurer or vice chairperson and see how many comrades know. Only comrades with a personal connection to the leaders know them: classmates, hostel-mates, club-mates, course-mates and friends of friends. The state of affairs in Dekut is such that leaders lead themselves. No, they don’t lead their fellow comrades. How can you lead people who cannot even point you out in a crowd? To lead people, they must feel a connection to you. They must know you and be proud of you. And finally, they must be convinced that you have their best interests at heart and that you have what it takes to fight for these interests. If they don’t even know you, then there is no way they will pay any attention to you, let alone let you lead them.
And let it be clear that I have nothing against the individuals in leadership or the individuals who are running unopposed. I know a number of them personally and they are remarkable people. My problem is with the system. It is impossible for us to have leaders with such a system.
Last year, the apparent problem was tribalism. We should have known that tribalism was just a symptom and that the real problem was the slow but sure death of comradeship in Dekut. Almost half the school didn’t trust the leadership because it was said that they were “GEMA prefects.” This year, the powers that be have decided to come up with a solution to the problem of tribalism. To their credit, the Dekutso leadership they have envisioned is inclusive. But in trying to provide a solution to one problem, they have brought about the worst kind of problem we could have. Comrades will have total disinterest in the council. The delegate system crippled comrade unity by taking away the power of voting from the comrades and giving it to delegates. But at least, when delegates do their job right, the comrades usually feel that they had a say in the matter. Comrades could decide who would lead them by deciding which delegates to vote in. Now, comrades have absolutely no say in the matter. Leaders are literally being imposed on them. Why would they give a damn about these leaders?
As it is, the student council should just be incorporated into the office of the dean where they will be dispensing their duties to students the same way that the dean does. Technically, that is already what they do. But comrades should not deceive themselves that they have leaders. Politics and leadership started dying when the delegate system was introduced. This year, the heart of leadership in the university that is very ironically named after Dedan Kimathi has finally stopped beating. The funeral will be held when delegates go to an election without options. It’s as if we have intentionally decided to mock the name Dedan Kimathi. And we are doing such a a stellar job so far.
As I finish, I need to reiterate one thing: I have no problem with the individuals who are running unopposed. In fact, I believe that with the right system, some of them would be super leaders. They can’t be blamed for the state of affairs. The only thing they can do now to prove their leadership is find a way to revive the dead comrade spirit and unity in Dekut. It’s an uphill task. If they were to accomplish that, then they would probably end up being the greatest leaders that Dekut has ever had. If they fail, then it will be a shame in future to be called a member of the Dekutso council. This year there are only seven nominees. Next year, there is likely to be none because the student council will have completely degenerated into a disgrace that no true comrade would want to be associated with.
Remember when I mentioned the irony of our university being named after Dedan Kimathi? If things go the way they are going, being in the student council will be likened to being a paramount chief, a betrayer of comrades. We should probably rename the school and stop dishonoring the name of the leader who died so that it can be possible for “monkeys” like us to go to university. Kimathi must be turning in his grave.
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