Politics in Kenya: The Way Forward

8 Min Read

I have heard of the expression “the elephant in the room” however for the purposes of explaining the dilemma that we as Kenyans find ourselves in I will modify it to ‘the elephant in the country’ that no one wants to address directly; the fact that we have just elected an ICC suspect as president of our country.

Oh, and lest I forget to mention, the vice president is also in the same boat; both indicted for crimes against humanity in relation to the post election violence in Kenya in 2008.

If you are looking for more information on that, I urge you to look at the ICC website. This article is about moving on.

It is an article about how Kenyans can successfully live after elections and how we can manage our expectations given that we have a brand new government system with new leaders in place.

My first take will be the promises offered by the Jubilee coalition. Now that they are in power(or so it seems), the question is can they deliver? More importantly will we hold them accountable to deliver?

The coalition has made very ambitious promises my favorite one is the promise to delivery a sola-powered laptop to every class one child.

Now may I mention as a by the way that many parents sending their children to class one may not be able to clothe or sufficiently feed their children!

Therefore imagine what types of opportunities a free solar-powered laptop will bring to such a family- I am thinking sell is as soon as possible get money for food, clothing, rent or other necessities and move on.

After all, primary education is free and a laptop is a juicy proposition to swing in the *mwananchi’s face in this day and age. I want to hold the Jubilee coalition accountable because they made promises and they got their votes.

I think the things that matter to Kenyans most right now is unity and resolving the ethnic divides that are in the country.

This will be a big challenge to the coalition given that only 50% of the country voted them in, clearly the other 50% is not with them. In addition, the issue of land will be prickly and contentious.

The current president elect can only redeem himself by taking drastic measures, he is one of the big land owners in Kenya. Next in line are the economic disparities among the citizens, unemployment, and issues related to development such as health, education and infrastructure. Unless the coalition addresses these issues, the face of Kenya will change and perhaps irreparably.

On a recent visit to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, I noticed that after our group visited the museum, the divide between the whites and blacks seemed to grow in the space of an hour.

Suddenly the black South Africans were speaking in Zulu or Xhosa while the whites suddenly made references in Afrikaans every now and then.

Please recognize this as a generalization based on observation but that does not make it less credible. While there was an underlying ocean of suppressed emotions, what I respected about the South Africans is that they did not pretend to hide it.

They faced it. As Kenyans I think we can learn from this experience. The lessons from the post-elections violence in 2008 are not meant to help us forget, pretend or erase history.

They are meant to help us remember but also help us know how to manage our emotions. Kenyans have done an incredible job of managing expectations this time round and I commend them.

However, comments on facebook and other social sites tend to bring out the worst in people. I think that we should all realize that our tribal prejudices will not fly away regardless of how much we are educated and listed to peace messages and attend reconciliation sessions.

The reason why we constantly relive the past is so that we can learn how to manage our emotions and expectations. It is in this regard that I urge Kenyans to love others as they would love themselves while avoiding pretense.

We cannot pretend to have resolved our tribal and ethnic differences however we can live above them. This is the challenge that will face us for the next five years in the new government.

Lastly, the new government structure is devolved in structure. This means that power should be decentralized from the president and the executive and down to the counties.

However, since this is the first try at the new government structure, we must be ready for everything to go wrong and at least one thing to work.

The reason why I bothered to mention this point is because most Kenyans have focused their energies on the presidential election and power forgetting that the person who will probably matter to them the most in the incoming government is their Governor, Senator and Member of Parliament.

Thanks to the devolved government these people should be easily accessible to the common citizen. I believe it would therefore be prudent for Kenyans to start thinking of how they will engage their county assemblies and representatives in an effort to bring themselves closer to influencing government policies.

As it stand most Kenyans have not thought about the changes in their local government which might lead to widespread corruption, return of unused funds to treasury, misuse of public funds and mismanagement of other public resources.

The way forward is for us as Kenyans to learn how we can engage the local government to sustain and hopefully improve our current economic situation.
I believe that Kenyans are headed in the right direction.

Despite certain legal problems facing our current elect leaders, there are structures in place to make this country achieve our development goals as outlined in Vision 2030.

If we stay focused and refuse to be sidelined by trivial matters which only serve to depress our development trajectory, we will get there. As you may have noticed, I did not delve into the issue about the elephant in the country (no pun intended).

If you have any questions, please post them below…

Did you enjoy this article?

Have these posts delivered directly to your inbox

Never miss another post! Join 20,000 other smart readers and have content delivered on a weekly basis.

Share This Article