I was browsing through my timeline on Twitter recently and I read a comment from someone saying Kenya reminded them of a telenovela.
My first reaction to this opinion was to stifle a laugh, but then I got to thinking about it and the more I examined the idea, the more it made sense, especially when it comes to politics. Just look at the news reports and commentaries in the newspapers over the last few months.
The script writers (mainly politicians and the political commentariat) have produced three different scripts to be decided on for the run-up to the next election in 2022. This means that like the two alternative endings in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Kenyans will probably be faced with two alternative endings to the current political cycle.
These are (a) The original script idea from 2013 that sees Deputy President William Ruto succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta and go on to be President for two terms; (b) The handshake building bridges script as envisioned by Opposition leader Raila Odinga. This one involves a referendum to change the constitution to create a mainly ceremonial presidency with a Prime Minister as head of government. The underlying theme of this second script would have Raila finally achieve the presidency while Uhuru became PM, thus succeeding himself as head of government.
Meanwhile, the actors — Kenyan voters — are busy queueing up in the manner of sheep to the slaughter behind their preferred script writers and directors, and are already behaving as if one of these scenarios must come to pass as these are the only choices we have.
But who says Ruto, Kenyatta and Raila are the country’s only choices? Why do some people think Kenyans must always behave as though they are a small herd of sheep invited by a pack of ravenous hyenas to a vote on what to eat for dinner?
When will we get tired of being sheeplike? When will we the voters realise our future is up to us to decide and start writing the script ourselves, instead of letting a handful of political leaders with deep pockets (that we helped them fill one way or the other) dictate it to us?
Sometimes I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if we took back our power and completely flipped the script on the politicians and their shady cartels and backroom politics?”
I sometimes imagine a scenario where instead of being stuck in a rut with our petty tribal politics, we — and our siblings across the region — were in fact pushing for the immediate establishment of the long proposed East African Federation.
Think of the political realignments that would have to happen across the whole region. Imagine a situation where there were regional parties and coalitions. A greater East Africa, including Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya, would be “the fourth-largest country in Africa and 17th-largest in the world”, and “the second-most-populous nation in Africa, after Nigeria”.
Overnight, we would become a power to reckon with, not just on our continent but worldwide. For now, however, we are stuck in the dim lighting of our current situation, but at least we can dream of a better script.
Follow me on Twitter @MwangiGithahu