PEACEFUL ELECTION

Peaceful parliamentary elections, a mark of our national unity

In Summary

•Kenyans have long been sick of tribalism. What good does tribal factionalism do for us? It does not make us wealthier, it does nor stronger, safer, or even happier.

•Putting the tribal identity before the national identity simply hurts us all. 

IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati during tribunal hearing of his case at IEBC headquarters,Nairobi. September 13th 2019./Douglas Okiddy
IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati during tribunal hearing of his case at IEBC headquarters,Nairobi. September 13th 2019./Douglas Okiddy
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

The November 7 by-election in Kibra ended in a success for ODM's MP-elect Imran Okoth in a hotly contested race between him and Jubilee's McDonald Mariga.

In the end, Okoth won fair and square in a peaceful election. And although some Jubilee supporters might be disappointed by the defeat, Kenyans can celebrate the successful campaign it was.

A little over 10 years ago, post-election violence bloodied our country and darkened our image in the international media. Thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Angry citizens who felt that their voices were not heard and that they had little control over the future of their nation lashed out at their fellow Kenyans.

 

Today, especially after the handshake, things are different.

On the night of the by-election, Mariga graciously accepted defeat and offered to do all that he could to help Okoth improve the lives of the people in Kibra. At the end of the day, they have the same goal. This is surely an example taken from the highest echelons of Jubilee and ODM leadership. The March 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga showed us there can be no progress in hate, and no improvement without collective support.

Kenyans have long been sick of tribalism. What good does tribal factionalism do for us? It does not make us wealthier, it does nor stronger, safer, or even happier. Putting the tribal identity before the national identity simply hurts us all. 

Things are, however, changing.

On one hand, each tribe celebrates its diverse cultural heritage through the preservation of linguistic, historical and culinary traditions. On the other, our identity as Kenyans appears to be stronger than ever before.

In light of the recent census, Uhuru administration is looking to use demographic information to make sure that no one is left behind or forgotten by the government - no matter tribal affinity. Worthy noting, this census was carried out and delivered by an African government within two months for the first time in our history. 

An old Burundi proverb says, “in harmony, everything succeeds.”

 

This proverb is truly one to live by in any era, and is extremely relevant in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa today. The gracious loss to Okoth by Mariga follows the pattern laid out by Uhuru and his rival in the last two general elections, Raila. 

 Anyone in a position of leadership in Kenya now understands that while they may have won an election, nothing is possible without reaching out to their rivals and understanding the needs of those who voted for them.

This is, in essence, at the heart of the Building Bridges Initiative. It is no wonder that so many politicians from different parties are supporting it. Obviously, the old-fashioned system of tribalism has fractured the people far too much. As a nation, we expect leaders who represent us to bring us together, not divide us.

Historically, tribalism was used as a way for the English to foment hatred amongst Kenyans so that we would not be unified enough to reject their colonial intentions. This idea was known as “divide and rule”.

Isn’t it time we recognise this fact and release ourselves from this unfortunate moment in history? The UK is becoming ever weaker as Brexit tears it from the European Union. The era of British dominance is far behind us and the moment has arrived for us to no longer be bound to the havoc they wreaked here.

We must take responsibility for ourselves. Colonialism and historical injustices are no longer valid excuses. It’s been too long, and we have been independent for more than 50 years. It is time we started acting that way.

Since Uhuru ascended to the presidency in 2013, it has become increasingly apparent that the nation is on the same page. Let us not lose sight of what is important - harmony and unity. 

MP, Igembe North