BWIRE: Kenyans must stop cheering ‘siasa mbaya’

By Victor Bwire

We are at that stage where the country would be described as moving towards the brink of the precipice.

Political extremism is building up across the country, and political leaders across parties and movements are throwing salvos at each other while Kenyans as they gradually become emotionally charged are cheering on.

Nobody is listening to anybody, and the voice of reason seems to be drowning. Temperatures within the government are high, as the political wings in the government accuse each other of all manner of things.

While the ongoing political processes are healthy and within the human rights of people in democracy, caution is necessary especially looking at the history of our country ascendancy to the presidency is a matter of life to death to voters. The politics of its either me or you looks outdated and unsuitable to Kenya.

How is the current political goodwill favoring development for Kenyans including implementation of the remaining bits of the Constitution?

And as Dr Casper Odegi said is his paper, The Rise of the “Cheering Crowd”: Fiction and Kenya’s Political History, Kenyans are cheering on, without caring about the outcome of the polarization. Pundits are allover the media, both liberty and new media pushing the extreme narrative, and whether it will become violent or not seem not to bother anybody, other than the government.

The cheering crowds are growing in numbers, and blindly following their political masters at the risk of pushing the country to the edges.

As we work on emerging the cheering of the political feuds in the country and creating a stage for violent extremism on the political front, other people including public officers and civil servants, the private sector, religious leaders and professionals are being drawn into the cast.

Pundits are not sleeping and once more, we have all manner of “experts’ giving opinions, many very naïve and the cheering squad is spoiling for a fight. Can somebody stop this madness? Why are people so mad at each other? Makasiriko ni ya nini?

How will critical national issues such as enactment of the electoral laws that remained incomplete including the campaign financing, now the boundaries demarcation and related happen in such a polarized environment?

If Government is complaining about government, where will Kenyans go? Like Governor Jackson Mandago said, which former Cabinet Secretary Dr Paul Otuoma has repeated, in politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends, and people should learn to tolerate political lies, for they are the order of the day.

Nchi yetu ya Kenya tunayoipenda, tuwe tayari kuilinda, (And our homeland of Kenya, Heritage of splendour, Firm may we stand to defend) as our national anthem reminds us.

While I might sound fear mongering, the conditions being witnessed especially from various leaders and discussions online, point to a country that needs national healing and reconciliation. A nation easily breaks into anarchy, when extreme positions are taken on national issues, and the general public loses patience and direction, and start vomiting such dangerous and poisonous words as currently being spewed online and via the media.

Looking at the venom by Kenyans online, whose are not necessarily journalists or traditional media is something analysts need to explore and show Kenyans if the current physical peace in the country is genuine.

While previously, and more specifically following the 2007 post- election violence, media was said to have contributed to violence – by the way they covered the elections related issues-this time round- media is being said to have been muted – thus did not incite people to violence.

While the absence of physical violence in Kenya thus far is great- I am not sure- the ongoing hate and angry exchanges online by Kenyans- at each other and amongst each other- over sometimes very mundane and sometimes- serious national issues-deserves mention and attention.

The one major lesson that I believe this teaches us is that politics and related political discourse is showing us is that extremism is not for illiterates and average Kenyans- extremism in Kenya is an elite problem. It’s the elites who are extremism to the tilt in this country-the words and expressions on the online forums are dangerous- and are being peddled by the elites who can access and use the forums.

They are angry and tribal because- they are fighting over resources, opportunities and jobs-guys are hungry because there is traffic jam- because there is blackouts- and they throw venom at each badly and angrily-and especially if those in authority in those institutions responsible- do not come from their tribe or communities.

The author is the Programmes Manager at the Media Council of Kenya

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