Thursday, March 24, 2016

I am free

As I understand it, "ideology" is
a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy
and "ideas" are
thoughts or suggestions as to possible courses of action
and "ideals" are
 standards of perfection; or principles to be aimed at.
In the pre-Saba Saba Era, but after the gruesome murder of JM Kariuki, when the politics of Kenya became synonymous with the whims and caprice of the President, there was only one ideology: what the President said was true. No. Matter. What. If you didn't like that state of affairs, like the likes of Pio Gama Pinto and Jm Kariuki, you could die or, like Kung'u Karumba, you could disappear, or like Robert Ouko, you could become the star in how not to cover up an assassination, and so on and so forth. Ideology wasn't so much ideas or ideals as presidential autocratic wet dreams.

In that scheme of things the machinery of government, that all-consuming Leviathan that will not be denied, was orientated to ensure that what the president wanted, the president got. So laws were enacted to ban books and films and radio programmes and policemen and bureaucrats in mufti lived to enforce these laws, which were expressions of presidential will. Unless you were one of the tame civil servants that made out like bandits in this era, or a sot-nosed sycophant, you will remember that presidential ideas and ideals about the economy or politics of Kenya were anything but salubrious. Some, like Raila Odinga, would certainly have very strong feelings about them.

What must come as a surprise is that there still exists a cohort of senior bureaucrats who pine for the 1980s and 1990s when banning things, especially ideas, was their core mandate. These people live in a world where they are performing a great public service by reviewing the entire universe of ideas, ideals and ideologies broadcast in Kenya with the intention of weeding out the insalubrious for the protection of the morals and values of the nation and the spiritual and mental well-being of the wee ones.

How anyone can build a wall high enough to prevent the flow of ideas, ideals and ideologies remains the mystery that only these bureaucrats can answer. But it is the sheer arrogance of a mere mortal deciding what ideas will corrupt me, what ideals are unsuited for me, or what ideologies will corrupt my immortal soul that beggars belief. How a man or a shadowy cabal of men can see into my soul is the stuff of Stalin's wet dreams. Today only the naive believe that they can muzzle the internet and the free flow of ideas. Only brutal dictatorships or police states have that capacity, and even then their control is not absolute. Mwai Kibaki somehow managed to prevent the import or distribution of  Michaela Wrong's It's Our Turn to Eat, yet only the indolent or the disinterested haven't read it. The asinine decision to ban The Wolf of Wall Street all but guaranteed that it would be distributed even to the disinterested.

I am a free man. I am free to read what I want. I am free to hear what I want. I am free to watch what I want. I am free to think what I want. I am free to think. No bureaucrat can prevent my mind from knowing, understanding and comprehending, and then drawing conclusions. But there is a man in the machinery of government who seems to believe he has the capacity to prevent my mind from entertaining radical ideas. That man is a fool.

No comments: