So the 2017 Kenya election is all over, bar the wailing of the losers — and by that, I mean those who have lost loved ones to the live bullets of the police fired in anger and with bloodlust at those who would dare refuse to accept the result.
Because in Kenyan elections those who lose are not so much the politicians, but those who dare demand justice and fairness from the system. The losers are those who refuse to move on and want instead to grieve fully and properly with all rituals observed before they can start imagining how to heal.
In Kenya, election losers are the poor who have little or nothing to lose. Those who daren’t hope that they or their descendants will see a better day. Those who fear that the only way they can be heard is by violent protest, since all other avenues, streets and even panya routes, have been closed to them.
These are the people for whom promises to conquer ignorance, poverty and disease, as made at Independence in 1963, have been nothing but a cruel hoax.
If President Uhuru Kenyatta wants to have any hope of a legacy that sees him as more than a brief footnote in the history of Kenya, these are the people whose lives he must most urgently transform for the better.
It is vital that during the next five years, he visits the country’s most deprived communities to listen to and understand their needs and wants. To empathise, he will have to get to grips with the state of mind that these people he claims are his brothers, sisters, neighbours and fellow citizens are in. It is one in which the poor feel trapped. Where many people, particularly the poor, feel that hope and aspiration are reserved for others.
If the President were to apply his mind to uplifting the poor and downtrodden, giving them a reason to feel like they, too, have a stake in Kenya’s future, then he will have done more than his father, Mzee Kenyatta, his political mentor, Mzee Moi, and his predecessor, Mzee Kibaki, ever did for Kenya.
By including all those Kenyans who feel excluded and indeed bringing them into the sight and mind of all other Kenyans, Uhuru could make a real difference.
One of the things the President and his government could do is create conditions where the slums of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret and elsewhere are no longer the headquarters of deprivation in our country. This could be done by encouraging investors, both local and foreign, to spend money in the reconstruction and development of these neighbourhoods, putting up real decent housing. Invest more in health, education and jobs.
If they can commit to this sort of thing, then they can hope that at the next election, more people will find it easier to accept the results and move on. However, if Uhuru and his government are not paying attention, then truly, there is no hope of any real peace.
I’m on Twitter @MwangiGithahu