Skip to main content
January 20, 2019

G-Spot: Those who forget the errors of the past are bound to repeat them

Youth wield crude weapons during post-election violence
Youth wield crude weapons during post-election violence

In the run-up to the abortion that was the 2007 elections, there were media reports of a spike in the sale of pangas in Nairobi.

At the time few people, if any, seemed to question why suddenly, in an urban setting, where there is very little call to cut down dense bush, sugar cane or even maize stalks for that matter, there was an increase in the sale of this implement. Normally used by non-farmers to kill and chop people up, it was selling like hot chips in the CBD at lunchtime.

By the time the news came through of the murderous violence that accompanied the results of the election, everybody knew what the panic buying of pangas had been all about, and it was too late to do anything about it.

Kenya’s next election is set for 2022, although the way certain politicians keep going on about it, you would be forgiven for thinking the polls were imminent.

Depending on how things go with the Building Bridges Initiative and other distractions, there may be a referendum called before the next election, and that process in itself is like an election. Also, if, as I suspect, the plebiscite is about changing the way the country is governed, there will be a lot of excitement and whipping up of political (read tribal) sentiment. Because of course, most Kenyans and their political leaders appear to only see politics through a tribal prism.

Going from past experience, at least since the return to a multiparty political system back in 1992, all of this electioneering will lead to violent flare-ups of tribal hatred in parts of the country that are otherwise populated by “cosmopolitan, peace-loving Kenyans”.

Depending on how things go, the police, or maybe even the Kenya Defence Forces, may be called in to stop civilians from killing each other or even from ganging up as a united force of the have-nots against the haves — as some thought was beginning to happen before the 2007-08 post-election violence was called off.

After the politicians come to an agreeable backroom deal, they will then make the usual calls to Kenyans for national unity and we will quickly forgive and forget that the same lot had been ready to lead us, their people, unto darkness and death to achieve their power goals.

The scenario I am painting will be a familiar, or plausible, one to those who are realistic about Kenyan politics. This time, however, I fear that as well as the usual arsenal of bows, arrows and pangas, there may well be guns thrown into the mix. Not just any guns, but guns that are ordinarily used by a crack unit of the KDF, which will confuse investigators after the violence dies down.

Why do I suggest this? Recent reports of the police impounding a consignment of 1,000 rifles similar to those used by the KDF Special Forces may have something to do with it.

I hope, however, that those in charge of security for the whole country are on the case and my scenario becomes only fit for a bad movie.


Follow me on Twitter @MwangiGithahu

Poll of the day