What is your relationship to your leader? Are you there just to follow orders, or are you ever proactive? Do you have heartfelt alignment with your leader around a shared purpose? Do you ever come up with your own ideas or contributions for the common good? Are you positive and upbeat about the direction of the group? Do you build your own skills and competencies or do you always wait for them to be handed down? - Sunny Bindra (We spend so much time on leaders. What about followers?)
There are no naturally-occurring vacuums on this planet. The national ethos when it comes to leadership and followership demonstrates the interconnectedness of things. One reinforces the other. Bad leaders are often the result of bad followers and bad followers are the result of bad leaders. But it is not all a binary arrangement: it is how we end up with outliers in life.
A series of decisions were incrementally reinforced and ended up defining the nature of our relationships to our leaders, whether in families, private organisations or Government. One of those decisions was to allow lies to slide. In families, children are taught that lies are wrong. In many families, children are punished when they lie. But children are not blind; they see the lies that many adults in their families engage in on a daily basis, and how the adults justify those lies. Children witness the hypocrisy and adapt to it; they learn how to lie without being caught in the lie, and to justify their underhandedness, just like the adults in their lives.
The same is true of organisations. Lies at the top will be reflected in lies at the bottom. If you have been to a large garage and been offered a "discount" by the mechanic that is not reflected on the worksheet signed of on the boss, then you know this to be true - and a reflection of the trickery the boss engages in with his suppliers and other stakeholders. If you've witnessed the minister of faith preaching about marital fidelity while he seduces members of this congregation, you know that truth-telling, regardless of context, is no longer admirable.
When it comes to Government, the evidence is manifest. Take public transport as an example. You must have seen the hundreds of unroadworthy PSVs that clog the streets. Or the sub-standard multi-billion shillings roadworks that don't survive first contact with rains. They are a manifestation of the lies government officials tell to each other and to the people they serve. They are manifestations of the lies that are accepted among government officials and by us, the people they serve. It is no longer fashionable to call out lies and liars. We mostly go along to get along. No fuss, no muss. Liwe liwalo.
Our relationships are but on lies. It is the best explanation for why we seem incapable of being good followers or choosing good leaders. We turn blind eyes to how so and so became a billionaire because we want to follow the same malign path to great wealth. We turn blind eyes to his so and so stays at the top of the parliamentary establish because we wish to employ the same tricks - bribery, ethnic jingoism, violence - to ascend to the same heights as he. If a few people get injured, maimed or killed, so what? No one is saying anything about it so why should I?
Over the next six months, men and women who have pretended to be paragons of virtue will reveal their true colours. Some have already done so. They will reveal that lies don't bother them; that greed doesn't bother them; that murder, violence and mayhem are their stock-in-trade. Some will be offered national platforms to share their destructive agendas. Some will manipulate social media platforms. Some will assiduously support them. The vast majority of us - silent, morose, cowed, afraid, traumatised - will watch and seethe and pick the wrong side. The few voices of conscience still willing to speak out will be suppressed. Look how far we done fell.