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Don't let extreme views breed tension in Kenya

In Summary

• A nation easily breaks into anarchy, when extreme positions are taken on national issues.

• An unstable environment will provide challenges to both the Government and the private sector.

NCIC CEO Hassan Mohammed during a press briefing in Nairobi on May 21, 2019.
NCIC CEO Hassan Mohammed during a press briefing in Nairobi on May 21, 2019.
Image: ENOS TECHE

If the current political, social and economic events in the country over the last few weeks is anything to go by, then Kenyans must be very worried as it just shows how easily the country can degenerate into anarchy. Once again, the past confrontations and hate that frequently engulf our country, largely because of our vulnerable political past is here with us. Charged political rallies, politicised religious functions, insults across the political divide, online hate is back. And this time, its hugely perpetrated by those in Government, supported by the church and in the absence of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission. And with social media that allows people to live stream events and spread of information, liberty media seems chasing the game in terms of information flow. As usual, people are calling out not the leaders of the major political parties in the country who ought to come together and diffused the tension that is building up in the country but the media for merely providing a platform.

While I might sound fear mongering, the political and tribal heat in the country led by our leaders, the level of thuggery and impunity being witnessed and the fear that currently exists amongst investors and visitors point to a country that needs stands on quicksand. Our political leaders must at this stage stop and ask themselves where they want to take this country- no meaningful development and progress can happen in such a scaring, uncertain and politized environment. The good projects and interventions from both the Government and the private sector cannot succeed where there is no trust and confidence amongst not only the political class, but within public and private institutions because of the nature of our tribalism.

A nation easily breaks into anarchy, when extreme positions are taken on national issues, and the general public loses patience and direction, and start vomiting such dangerous and poisonous words as currently being spewed online and via the media.

Looking at the venom by Kenyans online, who are not necessarily journalists or traditional media is something analysts need to explore and show Kenyans if the current physical peace in the country is genuine.  While previously, and more specifically following the 2007 post- election violence, media was said to have contributed to violence – by the way they covered the elections related issues-this time round- media is being said to have been muted – thus did not incite people to violence.

While the absence of physical violence in Kenya thus far is great- I am not sure- the ongoing hate and angry exchanges online by Kenyans- at each other and amongst each other- over sometimes very mundane and sometimes- serious national issues-deserves mention and attention.

The business community is worried that the ensuing environment in the country, which is linked the politics and corruption, might erode the hard-earned stability that has enabled trade and business development in the country. Leaders in the country should not allow such uncertainty to prevail in the country, for its dangerous not only for economy but for Kenyans at all levels.

An unstable environment will provide challenges to both the Government and the private sector in offering an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and prosper, building of institutional capacity, facilitating infrastructure and service development.

Leaders cannot continue creating havoc, despondency and fear in the country while expecting others to be responsible in their actions. The same standard of judgement and public scrutiny is expected of all Kenyans.

While politics affects all aspects of our lives, its wrong for leaders and their paid followers to subject the country to such unwarranted tension. Public agencies are affected whenever the country is subjected to such high-octane politics and when tribal kingpins take such extreme positions on mundane issues.

Our violent past always hangs on our necks and whenever the slightest hints appear that suggest we are about to slide back, we must relook at our past and ask ourselves, is it really worth to do back there. The violence across the country including social and political is too much, and our leaders must halt this. We should do civilized politics and engagements.

The Writer is the Head of Media Development and Strategy, the Media Council of Kenya