In Kenya, we elect our leaders based on:
- How heavenly their promises are, without caring whether the leaders have the capacity to fulfill them
- How attractive politicians make themselves look
- How good their propaganda is, in short, how good they are at ‘kutubebea akili’
During elections, our combined IQ as citizens is less than the IQ of any one of us when there are no elections. It should replace our wild beast migration on the list of the Seven Wonders of the World because it is a much more remarkable phenomenon. Another wonder that should probably be included on the list is our blind faith in the leaders that we elected in the above manner – we have the courage to believe that they’ll actually lead us to greener pastures and it’s such a pity.
But why should you care? If you are like the average campus student or Kenyan citizen, politics is not for you. Politics is for politicians. If we as citizens continue to believe that politics is not for us, then we are hopelessly lost. And the reason our country is in such troubled times is because its citizens are leaving politics to “politicians”. That’s why we’ll be graduating into a job market where thousands of workers are being laid off. I am very worried and you should be too. I mean, if my father who has decades of work experience in addition to his academic qualifications is being laid off, how do I expect to get a job without any experience, let alone a well paying job?
If we are to understand that politics is for everyone and not just politicians, then we need to look at the first definition of politics in the Merriam Webster dictionary: activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government. According to this definition, politics is basically the practice of controlling the actions of your government. As a citizen, don’t you think it would be great if you could control your government? It would be great because you would make your government do what is best for you.
To participate in politics, you don’t have to play the dirty and disgusting game that Kenyans see politics as. No, it’s as simple as using your brain while voting. To show you the importance of voting, consider a company like Safaricom. They are the most profitable company in Kenya as far as I know. Can you imagine getting a job at Safaricom? It sounds very difficult. To get a job, you’d have to have the highest qualifications. What about getting a leadership position at Safaricom?
Safaricom’s leadership, like the late Bob Collymore, is responsible for ensuring that Safaricom keeps on making hundreds of millions in profit every year. Now, imagine you were a shareholder at Safaricom, meaning that you get to enjoy part of those millions as your profit? How would you replace Bob as CEO? If you love money like I do, you would go to heaven and earth to ensure that the new CEO is as capable as Bob in making money.
Let’s say that you and another shareholder are the ones in charge of deciding who will be the new CEO and that you are both from the same tribe. What if this shareholder suggested that you find someone who is from your tribe and make him CEO? What would happen if you were idiotic enough to follow his advice and choose someone from your tribe while leaving out someone as qualified as the former CEO Michael Joseph just because he is not from your tribe? Your company would certainly make less profit and would probably run bankrupt in the long run because of poor leadership decisions.
Why? You will agree with me when I say that nobody loves a child as much as his or her mother, right? When that child gets sick, what does the mother do? If you reason like the average Kenyan in politics, you will decide that the best person for the job at hand is the one that belongs to the child’s tribe, meaning the child’s mother. Your child will die. But if you are reasoning like a normal person should, you will know that the best person for the job is not the child’s mother but the doctor who is qualified in treating diseases. Occasionally, the mother will also be a doctor, but it doesn’t happen very often. Somehow, when it comes to elections, we are not capable of such basic thinking.
Let’s go back to our Safaricom example. Safaricom represents our country Kenya. The responsibility of Kenya is not to make profit like Safaricom but to safeguard the quality of lives of Kenyans. The leaders we choose have our lives in their hands. If they do their job well, we will get more employment opportunities. Let me ask you a question.
If your mum or dad got cancer now, how confident would you be in their chances of survival? I know that I wouldn’t feel very confident because this is Kenya and our healthcare sucks! It sucks as a DIRECT result of the INCOMPETENCE of our leaders. As a company, Kenya is making huge losses. The losses are in the form of people’s lives. The losses are in terms of how you and I will tarmac for years after graduating and will be lucky if we don’t end up committing suicide.
Do you want to know the interesting thing? Somehow, if things stay the same, we will still elect poor leaders next time. We will still place the happiness, health and general well-being of our future wives, future husbands, future babies, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in the hands of the most incompetent people there are. We will still do it. Isn’t that extremely interesting?
And how on earth do we expect our leaders not to be incompetent while we still carry out elections the way we do. If you wish to become a “leader” in Kenya, let me give you a Mwakenya:
- Be rich by whatever means. Kenyans don’t care if the money you have was meant to finance their late mother’s healthcare or create jobs for some youth somewhere who are now armed robbers. We are very understanding.
- Give us handouts. Some months towards the election, sh. 200 for each Kenyan who comes to your rally will make us very grateful to you and will make sure that we vote for you. Just make sure you give us more money than your opponents.
- Be good at insults. We love it when our politicians insult and humiliate each other in public.
- Have a good propaganda team. Their work will be to make fools of us and influence our opinion of you. Don’t let this stress you. We are very easy to lie to. When we think collectively, our memories become shorter than that of a warthog and our vision becomes as shortsighted as that of a fly. An example of excellent propaganda in action: Tribe X in a certain country believes that if they ever let leadership go to tribe Y, tribe X will be killed in their numbers and looted from. This fear ensures that any moron from tribe X will get their undivided support. It also justifies any immoral and unlawful action that the said moron may feel is necessary to secure leadership, like rigging for example. On the other hand, tribe Y believes that if someone from their tribe ascends to power, they will miraculously acquire the hard earned wealth of tribe X and get a chance to be compensated for the numerous real and imagined injustices against them. To substantiate these fears and beliefs, the morons in power will stop at nothing. They will not hesitate to incite and equip people with weapons during elections. No, they don’t give a rat’s ass about the lives of commoners. They are the evil super villains in the story; they are devils made flesh and yet they are worshiped like they were gods and looked up to like they were saints. Members of both tribes are thus used to support the political ambitions of certain selfish God-forsaken morons without even realizing it. I will tell you the terminology we will assign to people who let themselves be used in such fashion later in this article.
I could add a few more interesting qualifications but in summary, that is how Kenya chooses its CEOs.
In Kimathi, especially, all you need to do is come from a particular tribe. And of course, you’ve got to have money to take the delegates out at night to a posh hotel in town and spoil them; or something of the sort.
Our elections are coming up and we have the chance to change the way things work. If we end up with bad leaders, it’s because we will have let it happen. If we don’t want to end up with bad leaders, here are some of the things we can do:
- Don’t support a leader simply because he or she is from your tribe. If you do, please don’t be disgusting enough to go around telling us what you did like it’s something to be proud of – Have some self respect. Supporting a leader simply because he is from your tribe and rejecting another simply because he or she is not from your tribe is a FILTHY and very BACKWARD way of thinking. Just because we have been doing it doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s time we changed. That’s the only way things will be better for us.
- Bother to know about the candidates that are running. Take the time to listen to them talk and gauge the intelligence of their thoughts and words. We are all in campus. We can think critically and make good decisions. Also, they’ll probably be engaged in a public debate. You are welcome to be stupid and not bother with the debate. You are also welcome to attend the debate solely for entertainment purposes. But know that you will pay.
- You have your own brain; don’t let other people think for you. Don’t be so easy to make a fool out of. Just because someone says that person A is the right choice doesn’t automatically make him the right choice. It’s basic sense yet we have been failing in it. It’s time to change.
- Let’s pressure our delegates. Once we have thought critically and arrived at decisions, let’s pressure the delegates into representing our interests. Delegates are our representatives. They should represent our wishes and not their tribes. If they want to represent the interests of their respective tribes, there is enough room for that in our tribal societies. Let us make sure that their actions reflect our wishes.
- Let’s elect delegates not because they are pleasing to look at or simply popular but because we know that they use their brains and that they represent our interests.
If we don’t do this, the next time fares are doubled for seven months, we will have absolutely no right to question our leaders. If comrades are attacked with knives at night or our hostel rents are tripled, we will have no right to question our leaders. If you elected someone so that you can see a member of your tribe at the seat of power, then he will be doing his job simply by being at the seat of power, you shouldn’t expect more from him. If you elected someone because he bought you beer; then his job is buying you beer. You may have the right to question him if he doesn’t buy you beer during the next elections. But you don’t have the right to trouble him with jobs that you didn’t hire him for. If you elect a leader simply because he is from your tribe and ignore a more competent leader and your HELB loan is delayed, you thoroughly deserve not to sit for your exam and everything that comes as a result of that.
Aren’t we tired of being used by a few individuals for their gain like tissue paper and then being discarded when they no longer need us? Honestly, if we elect a person who only pretends to care for us when we are giving them votes, they will benefit for one year and then leave. We won’t have helped ourselves. Come on guys. Let’s elect people who will help us.
But we have the option of not doing anything. We don’t have to change. If we are not tired of being used like tissue paper, trust me, selfish people will not think twice about wiping their shitty asses with us. But hey, we’ve been okay with that since forever, right? So, why not continue knowingly and readily being tissue papers, ready to be used by whomever is willing.
Aki ya nani, in case everything that I’ve said above doesn’t make sense to you… Let me revert to this crude tactic: In the upcoming Kimathi elections, if you find yourself ignoring a potential leader simply because he or she is not from your tribe; or if you are a delegate and you find yourself voting for someone simply because he or she is from your tribe, or if you think you are too good to involve yourself in politics, let us agree right now that you will effectively be claiming the identity of a tissue with shit on it. Brown shit…or yellow or green. You can choose the color you want. You will be a tissue with shit because seriously, how do you gain if a leader in Kimathi is from your tribe? Does he or she pay you? Does he or she double your HELB? For real, you don’t gain. You lose the opportunity of electing a leader who will help you. Surely, we have to be as stupid as chicken not to see that. Oh and speaking of chicken, have you heard the story in which a certain cruel but intelligent ruler, maybe Hitler, plucked out all the feathers of a chicken while his cabinet watched? The pain must have been unbearable, right? Anyway, after a few days, he began giving the chicken some maize and within no time, they were besties. He used this example to demonstrate the remarkable folly of the masses.
But the above paragraph is just plan B, which I’m sure won’t be necessary. We are intelligent people so I’m sure we’ll do the right thing. We deserve better for ourselves as Kimathi. Changing how we elect leaders is one way of ensuring that we get the best for ourselves. In a way, we operate like Safaricom and for us to make profit, we’ve got to have competent leaders. If we make this step forward, there is hope for our generation even after campus. If we don’t, we have chosen all the evil that comes with bad leadership and we therefore deserve to shed every drop of blood that we will shed. And trust me, if the aim is to make us entirely dependent on someone – like that chicken was dependent on that guy who was maybe Hitler – then we have a lot of blood to shed before all our feathers are plucked off. I guess it all boils down to the question: Will we really be as stupid as chicken? Will you?
Food for thought: You love him, right? That leader that your people all love. Why do you love him? And why do you hate that other one?
Hint: You are used to thinking like a chicken and all your feathers are about to be plucked out, so… Do they insure feathers, especially if those feathers equal a person’s humanity? And is life worth living after a person has been stripped off their humanity, probably by being laid off and having a couple of young innocent eyes looking up at them and asking why they can no longer go to school? One way or another, we’ll be finding out… maybe sooner than we think.
Enjoy your holiday, Kimathi.
PS: The opinions expressed in this article belong to a writer who is young. This means that as they grow older, their opinion might change and that is okay.
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