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December 19, 2018

SUSAN MUGWE: One nation, two sets of rules

Suspects in KPLC corruption  former MD Ben Chumo and former company Secretary Beatrice Meso  at a Milimani court on Tuesday,July 17 during the hearing of the bail application.
Suspects in KPLC corruption former MD Ben Chumo and former company Secretary Beatrice Meso at a Milimani court on Tuesday,July 17 during the hearing of the bail application. PHOTO/COLLINS KWEYU

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”.

This is a scene from the movie The Matrix. Morpheus and Neo are the two main characters. Morpheus tells Neo that The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. We can feel it but can’t explain it. It is the world that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. The truth that we are slaves born into bondage. Born into a prison that we cannot smell, or taste or touch. A prison for our minds. And unfortunately, no one can tell us what The Matrix is. We have to see it for ourselves. Morpheus then asks Neo to choose between the red or blue pill. Neo chooses the former. He becomes red-pilled.

The matrix gods have been kind to Kenyans. They have pulled back the curtains and taken us behind the scenes. They have popped the red pill into our mouths, and our eyes have been able to see Kenyan politics in 3D. We have witnessed the height, the breath and the depth of how different sets of rules apply to those who govern and the governed. We have seen the truth that we are all not equal before the law; the truth that politicians treat the law as a suggestion when it applies to them; the truth where positions are defended based on the interests and perspectives of the social groups we identify with; the truth that there is one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

One of our 3D experiences was through a leaked phone conversation between governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu). In the ongoing demolition of illegal structures, the first lady of Kiambu was arrested for constructing a building in Nairobi without the requisite approvals. Her husband was heard pleading for her unconditional release. And the latter obliged him because in his own words, “I also have a first lady”. He did this all the while acknowledging that he was breaking the law. And to make a bad situation worse, Sonko unsolicitedly offered her a retroactive approval. Yet hardly a couple of days later, he orchestrated the arrest of a man who allegedly attempted to bribe him with Sh1 million, to facilitate the approval of construction of his hotel in Gigiri.

The other 3D experience was in the House of Lords that transformed into a House of Frauds. Various narratives abound of how MPs were allegedly bribed to reject the sugar report tabled by the joint parliamentary committee on Agriculture and Trade because the recommendations to take action touched on sacred cows.

The MPs were said to be shielding those of their similar origin, who had been adversely mentioned in the report. The question that begs is how far down the rabbit hole does this culture of compromise to influence certain outcomes go? Should all the other reports this House has approved be brought into question?

One more 3D experience was the speed with which the Nakuru cat farmer and the Kitui wife batterer were arrested, charged and convicted, against the speed at which the National Lands Commission, the National Youth Service and the Kenya Pipeline Corporation graft suspects were arrested and arraigned in court. And to rub salt into the wound, one suspect has insolently demanded to be reinstated, even before the truth is established.

There is a name for these 3D experiences. It is called oligarchy identity politics. It is when a small elite of a particular tribe, religion, gender or profession organise politically around a special interest for the sole purpose of advancing that interest, without concern or regard for the larger group or collective. And the appeal is undeniable.

It is a deeply disturbing open secret that our governance system is a democracy in name only. The foundations of democracy are a commitment to equality of political processes, equality of opportunity and equality before the law. However, these 3D experiences are a testament that we have a warped sense of equality because the political oligarchs call the shots and the majority of Kenyans, who turn out to vote in large numbers every five years, remain political bystanders once the votes are cast. The result is a simmering buyer’s remorse that is daily being expressed in various forums and means.

Law pre-exists the State because we are all born with certain natural rights. However, when we organise ourselves under a governance system, we enter into a social contract with the State. Without a social contract, society as we know it would be impossible. It would be short, nasty and brutish. Hence the sacrificing of a bit of our personal freedom to the collective raises our odds of survival in an unforgiving world.

Therefore, the legitimacy of the State to govern us relies on our tacit consent to trade our personal freedom for social and political order. It inherently implies that those governing should abstain from conferring any special advantage upon one individual or group in distinction to another. This is because the freedoms or the natural right of personal retaliation we give up are in exchange of the promise of personal protection and upholding of the rule of law.

So what happens when oligarchy identity politics encounters a red-pilled society? Is it the start of diminishing returns?

John Locke alerts us that when this happens, the right to be a vigilante is by default restored upon the individual. This reclamation occurs because any attempt at rejecting or distorting the social contract, inevitably results in anarchy because the State is merely the contractual agent of the people, not sovereign lords over them.

So, the question is, which pill will you choose? You take the blue pill and continue believing the political fairy tale narratives that are pre-packaged for you; or you take the red pill, wake up from nirvana, and see the reality in 3D.


To be wealthy and honored in an unjust society is a disgrace - Confucius, The Analects


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