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October 22, 2018

G-Spot: Why the oldies have a duty to pass on the knowledge gained from experience

A file photo of Opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta
A file photo of Opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta

As I hurtle headlong towards my half century, it has recently become apparent to me that I am now firmly among the minority of Kenyans (34 per cent) aged  between 25-54 years.

If we are to take the UN’s definition of “youth” as a person aged between 15 and 24 years, I have been out of the youth bracket for longer than it took me to come to the end of my youth, and so I can safely say that bus has passed and won’t be making the return journey.

By the time my father was my age, we were already referring to him (behind his back, of course) as Mzee, and while I would view anyone who referred to me as such in a very dim light, I would be powerless to refute it, especially if they were among the majority of my compatriots aged 24 and under ( 60 per cent).

This also means that I am one of the increasingly few Kenyans who has a fairly decent political memory of all four Kenyan presidents, from Jomo Kenyatta through Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta. 

Most Kenyans alive today have little or no memory of the Moi years. None of those who attain voting age by the next election will know of Moi as more than an old man who used to be president and is now retired and having a little trouble with his health, as one would expect of a nonagenarian. 

I am not sure what is taught of Kenyan history in secondary schools nowadays, but if the Kenya Secondary Curriculum as posted by the Elimu Network [http://www.elimu.net/Secondary/Kenya/KCSE_Student/History/Intro.htm ] is to be believed, then there will be precious little about President Moi, or, for that matter, President Kenyatta the first, that is taught in our history books. 

Therefore, whatever knowledge this new generation of Kenyans has of the single-party system that was used to rule Kenya de facto from 1969 and de jure from 1982, can only be gleaned from snatches on the Internet, old newspapers and magazines stored in public libraries, and stories told by parents and grandparents.

The point here is if, as some are suggesting, the endgame of the Jubilee administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta is a return to the one-party system or even a one-party dominant state, such as in Rwanda, sooner rather than later, it may be relatively easy to convince that majority of voters that such a system of governance is benign, free of trouble and strife and will help focus national attention on “useful” development, rather than “useless” politics.

Imagine if your only exposure and reference to competitive politics in Kenya was the abomination that was the 2007 election and the three contests since? Wouldn’t you also find the prospect of a respite from competitive politics alluring?

This is what those who would take Kenya back down that dark road would have the majority of voters believe, and it behoves we in the minority of the population who know just what an awful mistake that would be, to spread the gospel before it is too late.

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