Monday, May 21, 2018

Forty years and a Governor, Mr Bindra

If leaders are your problem, where do they come from? Are they invaders imposed on you? Do they inherit their powers? Don’t you people go to the polls, and don’t you have the power to bring in people who know what they’re doing, who care about the public, who will play it right and not steal from the public purse? Don’t those people offer themselves for election, and what do you voters do when they appear? - Sunny Bindra, Water everywhere but none to drink! Where do Kenyans go wrong?
My introversion kept me from doing many things as a child, so much so that I was labelled "shy" by everyone. What it afforded me, though, was an opportunity to hone one of life's important skills: observation. Many introverts spend great amounts of time observing their world and those who occupy it, because it helps us navigate the noise and emotion that make up human affairs. I dedicated great time observing the most popular boys and girls and the ones among them that became rulers and those that became leaders. I applied these observations to politicians and there were minor differences here and there but, all in all, pretty much the same.

I also observed the children who followed the rulers and leaders. There were many factors that prevented them from becoming rulers or leaders, and left them, for the most part, content to be ruled or led. But the most important, I think, was the long term effect of losing battles, one after the other, especially to the rulers, while adults refused to intervene to forestall the creation of juvenile monsters, aka, bullies. There were two possible outcomes: apathy or resentment, neither of which tended to end well.

The same is the case with our political rulers. Almost all of them have bullied their way to the top, using monies they may have acquired, erm, creatively, to buy the loyalty of those whose loyalty is up for purchase, and using that loyalty as a blunt instrument in their ascent to the upper echelons of the political classes. In the early 'nineties, just as the gap between the national poverty and national ambition widened explosively, budding neo-Hitlers bought and paid for militias that became the principle weapons in winning political power. And the more innocent Kenyans became innocent victims of the violence, the more they withdrew from the political process, retreated to ethnic or familial cocoons, and allowed monsters to occupy all the ground that was available.

As Kenyans withdrew from political engagement, everything they took for granted fell apart: roads, schools, dispensaries, playgrounds, places of worship, cinemas, discotheques, football stadiums, social halls, markets, bus companies, universities, polytechnics, police stations, the railways, the national airline, the East African Industries, and so on and so forth. Nothing was spared. As more Kenyans withdrew and retreated, more bullies emerged until we find ourselves ruled by more bullies than leaders.

Nairobi City County is the harbinger of what awaits the rest of the country if all people of goodwill leave the ground open for the thieves, liars, murderers, pederasts and henchmen that have occupied the ground in Nairobi: dry taps, potholed roads, vanishing playgrounds, sewerage-soaked primary schools and a governor whose refrain is, "It was my predecessor's fault."

Mr Bindra, "these people" didn't emerge overnight, and we didn't willingly cede ground to them. For twenty-eight years, violence has been visited on the good and innocent among us. We have been abandoned by every official power. We have been fed a steady stream of lies: that family is everything; that the tribe is our protector; that when "our own" is up there, then we will be safe; that the other tribe is always out to get us; that the State will never help so long as it is not in "our" hands; that one can get away with anything so long as he has a big enough "army" standing with him. It used to be that when it came to the public purse, you knew who the crooks were. But after waiting for forty years for the crooks to be jailed and nothing happening...well, the effects are everywhere to see, aren't they.

1 comment:

Mungai Kihanya said...

Followers don't choose leaders; it is the leaders who choose the followers. And the one who can choose the most followers wins the election!