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January 16, 2019

The vote is your shield against impunity

NASA Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga with his principals (from L) Isaac Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula during the launch of the Manifesto in Nairobi on June 27, 2017. Photo/Jack Owuor
NASA Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga with his principals (from L) Isaac Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula during the launch of the Manifesto in Nairobi on June 27, 2017. Photo/Jack Owuor

Are the majority of the 21st century Africans in Kenya such apathetic that they have surrendered to fate? Fatalism is the ultimate consequence of the dearth of civic consciousness: Or a moral blockade that comes with acute seizure self-interest. There is a clique of individuals who have benefitted from proceeds of impunity who would want to infect the gullible. Their interest is sustaining the status quo. To them, the masses are no more than voting automated machines, whose interests do not matter. Beneficiaries of the old order labour incessantly to buy their stay in public office, long beyond their welcome. They espouse the ideology of 'our people' to lull the gullible.

Those who have surrendered their consciences to vested interests say, "Better the devil you know than the angel you do not know." When corruption issues are raised, they say, "Everyone is corrupt in Kenya. Who is not corrupt?"

Sponsored deceit and political mendacity are ways of life. The colour of the chicken is valued above the sumptuous soup. Cats are valued for the colour of their furs, not for killing rats. There are ways of breaking this cocktail of apathy; this impunity-inspired resistance to change and indifference. One way is periodic elections. Kenya has had 11 such moments. The 12th moment is due in less than 40 days.

This is the mythical period it takes to expose thieves of opportunity. There is frantic clash of interests between holders of state power and those who want power, as the countdown enters the homestretch.

The frenzy and panic are palpable among those who want to retain 'the kill' at any cost. Impoverishing corruption does not matter so long as power is in politically correct and corruptible hands.

The current cries of “ungaa!” across the land is no barrier to the determination to abort the march to 'Canaan' under the leadership of a latter day Joshua'. The debilitating insecurity in the North Rift does not matter, so long as state power remains in the right hands. There should be a time to cross the line — the tipping point. This possibility does not favour the status quo nor the incumbents, who don’t advance the public interest.

Citizens of Baringo should ask, “Why do we suffer devastating banditry and poverty, when power has been in the 'Kabarak Mansion' for 54 years of Kenya's Independence?” “Why are we importing maize from Mexico, 40,000 miles away, when we have lush irrigable farmlands?”

That Kenya is importing maize 54 years after Independence indicts the politics of vacuous promises and business-as-usual. Malcom Gladwell, author of 'The Tipping Point, 'The International Number One Bestseller', explains this, as "that magic moment when ideas, trends, and social behaviour cross a threshold, tip and spread as wildfire". The tipping point has a local hue, 'Mawingu yametanda' or 'Mambo yabadika' in Kiswahili. In Dholuo, it is 'Piny osekawo kore'. The tipping point has a bandwagon effect. So many cannot be so wrong to miss the threshold.

There is a new resolve across the land. Those who cannot read the signs of the time are forces of reaction. They stand there, denying the evidence of their own eyes and ears. They do not want to know that the ground beneath them has since shifted. Consider the case of Homa Bay: Incumbent Governor Cyprian Awiti says he spent the last four years "laying the foundation for devolution". But independent governor candidate Oyugi Magwanga, says devolution has no budget provision for 'laying the foundation'. He says the people want value for money. The time for probity, he says, has arrived. It's the tipping point.

The Magwanga-Awiti contest comes with symbolism and religious overtones. It's taking a cultic hue. Until the police disrupted the twice-a-day ritual of raising the flag of change in Homa Bay town, businesses would stop, and people would stand to attention, for solemn reflection. This has since mutated into drumming and song, "Roho Dwaro Magwanga' literally meaning the spirits prefer Magwanga. The tipping point has arrived.

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