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January 22, 2019

Dialogue a ploy to hide issues

They want dialogue — again. This is the second time in a decade Christians, Muslims, moderate politicians and the neutrals are calling for dialogue to settle a post-election stalemate.

Western diplomats, who expect Africans to be contented with a lower threshold of democracy, are also calling for dialogue. They are counselling the disenchanted to go to court. They want peace. Forget justice —it is divisive. There is no penalty for fraud when impunity rules the kraal.

During the Nyayo era lived a man called Kariuki Chotara. The late Chotara of the Kikuyu diaspora in the Rift loved President Daniel arap Moi with all his heart. Perhaps he also loved Moi with all his pockets as well. For Chotara and his ilk, patriotism was divisive - sycophancy was all a country needed to sustain the peace.

Chotara, a Kanu hawk to the core, would rage and rave to defend the ruling party. Every time individuals or groups appeared to question Moi’s authority, party hawks would find excuses to suppress human rights. The murky 1980s was the dark era of single-party autocracy.

Chotara was a man of sparse education. He was not known for thinking about the burning issues of the day. He craved the master’s attention, and got it every time he jeered critics of the Nyayo regime.

Chotara understood dialogue as some kind of food that restless, Karl Marx-quoting students wanted in their menu. That was how chapati acquired the moniker ‘dialogue’ at the Central Catering Unit of the University of Nairobi.

Chotara pleaded with Moi to give the students dialogue. He figured out Moi ‘loved’ young people so much, he would not deny them dialogue. Once granted, Chotara imagined the students would stop political agitation. They would also stop parroting communist ideas from Das Kapital, or Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.

Under President Moi, equity, justice and democracy were meaningless. Love, peace, and unity were everything. This day, forgetting and moving on is everything because business is suffering. Justice and democracy are divisive.

Chotara’s kindred today think of dialogue as a prelude to mkate-sharing. Dialogue is abused every time Kenyans denigrate each other. Hawkers of dialogue prefer to sit on the fence when injustices sprout.

The neutrals want dialogue to break the greed, ambition, and prejudice-induced political stalemate. But did it have to come to this — neighbors set on neighbors to defend vested interests?

Kenyans have had dialogue before. Who recalls Agenda Four during the 2008 post-election violence? Who remembers the debate about historical injustices?

Three electoral debacles later, and a surfeit of commissions to address triggers and causes of pre- and post-election crises, we are fumbling like yesterday never happened. A people who do not want to build a country on a just foundation and integrity always sways in the wind of circumstances.

The 2017 electoral debacles are not black swans. They are consequences of tribal hubris, electoral fraud, unrelenting greed, and impunity. Impunity protects electoral fraudsters, while punishing victims of injustices.

The post-election dialogue that created the National Accord and Reconciliation Act of 2008 died once calm returned to the kraal.

Politics of exclusion resumed once the crown settled on the head of its owners. Power-sharing was spurned, as blame-sharing blossomed. ‘Nusu mkate’ ended once its architects calmed the kraal.

The down and out Kenyan from the Luhya, Maasai, Kipsigis, Abagusii, Turkana, and Luo communities have the same needs, dreams, and fears.

They want jobs; they want inclusion; they want justice. They want a country that addresses everyone’s needs —not a country where a greedy few enjoy the proceeds of impunity, and a false sense of entitlement.

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