Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My true fear

I didn't vote from Kilome constituency in the 2013 or 2007 general elections, nor in the 2010 and 2005 referenda even though that is where my heart will be interred some faraway day int he future. I voted in Harambee Ward, Makadara Constituency at the Bidii Primary School polling station after having cued, all four times, for at least five hours. Unless the register is "tampered with", I intend to cast my ballot in Harambee Ward, Makadara Constituency at the Bidii Primary School polling station on the 8th August. I hope this time round that the wait isn't five hours long.

What I remember of 2007 and its aftermath is now obscured by the passage of time and the fact that no matter how public the violence was, I was insulated from it all because Harambee Ward didn't experience marauding rioters with axes to grind. The height of our hardship was when households had to ration unga, veggies and meat because supplies were not making it to the dukas -- the Uchumi at Phase III had shut its doors immediately the first shot was fired. I was forced to ration my last half-pack of Dunhills. I probably should have given up smoking there and then.

Kenyans have a great capacity for political amnesia -- or so it seems. We invoked the spectre of 2007 to push through a constitutional referendum in 2010 and paper over the glaring and shocking shortcomings of the 2013 general election. We will keep invoking it for the foreseeable future -- so long as Raila Odinga is a presidential candidate in Kenya, 2007 will always serve as the boogeyman of Kenyan politics, summoned to chasten those who would challenge the narrative of the ruling non-Raila-Odinga-led alliance of Kanuists and Kanu's orphans.

The Kenyans likely to suffer every time the politics of Kenya turns to shit are unlikely to be Kenyans like me. Buru Buru may not glisten the way it did in the 1980s and 1990s, but its residents continue to be as politically disconnected as ever, leaving the stone-throwing, full-throated political hooliganism for other Kenyans without employment or full-time employment for that matter. You will very rarely find a resident of Buru Buru, Ngumo, Otiende, Komarocks or Kileleshwa -- or any of the facsimiles of upper working class suburbs -- engaging in running battles on the streets of the capital or the ridges and valleys of "upcountry" whenever the politics of Kenya turns to violence. You are more likely to find them incessantly wringing their hands and praying that they have jobs to return to when everything settles  down. That was my biggest fear in January 2008 -- whether my job wold still be waiting for me or whether my employer would accuse me of being a watermelon and can my ass.
Many are reading the political tea-leaves in 2017 and looking at what it all means -- for the politicians and their political allies. Few care to ask Kenyans like me what our true worries are. I have the same fears I had in 2007 and 2013 -- would I have a job when it all was over?

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