LIFE IMITATING ART

BBI Narok rally: A harbinger or outlier?

We have seen our own homegrown rendition of The Purge being sanctioned.

In Summary

• Raila, while mourning the death of Senator Irungu Kangata’s father, said the BBI season is the opportunity for people to have a democratic conversation to expel the hatred in their hearts.

• In other words, he was saying that people should not be constrained when they want to freely express what was in their hearts.

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina speaks to ODM leader Raila Odinga during the BBI rally in Narok on February 24, 2020.
Narok Senator Ledama Olekina speaks to ODM leader Raila Odinga during the BBI rally in Narok on February 24, 2020.
Image: COURTESY

It is often said that art imitates life, but in some rare cases, life imitates art.

What would you do if you were granted a 12-hour period where any and all crimes were permissible and sanctioned by the government? This is the storyline in the movie called The Purge.

In this movie, the US government introduces an unorthodox solution to restore peace, reduce rampant crime and decongest the overcrowded prison system.

 

The government sets aside one day in a year where any and all criminal activity is legal.

On this night, you are free to murder, rape, steal or undertake any manner of depravity against those that you feel have wronged you.

 
 

The aim of this unconventional solution as described by the US government is to permit people to get rid of their hatred.

It is designed as a catharsis for the people so that they may vent all negative emotions however they desire.

On this night, if someone attacks you or your family members as part of their venting, you cannot report or call the police because their functions are on hold; you cannot be attended to by any medical personnel because their duties are suspended; and your crime, no matter its gravity, is not punishable in any way.  

This week, the nation has witnessed a case of life imitating art. We have seen our own homegrown rendition of The Purge being sanctioned.

A week ago, the BBI circus made a pit stop in Narok county, an area that is predominantly inhabited by the Maa community.

 

As has been the custom in the previous pit stops, one of the leaders from the area is accorded the role of steering the public rally.

In the case of Narok, this role was assigned to Narok Senator Ledama Olekina.

In what appeared to be an attempt to gain political mileage among the Maa, he made some unsavoury remarks that resulted in his arrest by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation.

He had said that land owned by the Maasai ought to remain in their possession.

He also directed that the non-Maa community that had migrated to Narok should not sub-divide the land that they have bought from the Maa owners; that they should not fence it but rather allow the Maa cattle to graze freely; and that they should not run for elective political positions representing the Maa in any capacity.

To many people’s surprise, his position on exclusion of non-Maa communities in was supported by two highly conspicuous individuals — Raila Odinga and Mutahi Ngunyi.

Raila, while mourning the death of Senator Irungu Kangata’s father, said the BBI season is the opportunity for people to have a democratic conversation to expel the hatred in their hearts. ‘Wacha akohoe yote tutatafuta dawa yake’. In other words, he was saying that people should not be constrained when they want to freely express what was in their hearts. It is notable that Raila made these remarks while in a house of worship, but ironically, he did not take into account that the Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, and out of its fullness, the mouth speaks.

On his part, Ngunyi wrote on his Twitter handle that the operations of NCIC should be suspended to allow people to say uncomfortable things during this BBI period.

 
 

In other words, just like in the movie The Purge, Raila and Ngunyi were telling us that we should be free to publicly vent that which we would not ordinarily say in the spirit of peace, love and unity. That this is a catharsis as long as it is done under the cover of the BBI. In their view, this is The Purge season. By asking NCIC to suspend its operations and by extension its authority, they were simply saying that our utterances, regardless of what harm they were likely to cause to others, should go unpunished.

Shortly after Senator Olekina’s remarks, it was reported that there was an attack on one of the farms owned by a non-Maa in Narok. It is not my place to attribute this attack to the remarks made by the senator. However, if the attack was emboldened by his remarks, then undoubtedly this is a harbinger of what to expect from this sanctioned Purge.

I submit that if we are searching for an unorthodox solution to finally realise the elusive peace that is being sought through the BBI process, The Purge as prescribed by the two gentlemen is not the panacea. Hammurabi’s rule is.

Hammurabi was the ruler of Babylon in 1792 BC. He ruled for 43 years and was considered by his citizens a fair leader, and a shepherd who was genuinely concerned about the well-being of his people. Although the Babylonians kept slaves, they too had rights. Slaves could marry other people of any status, start businesses, and purchase their freedom. Hammurabi also ensured that they were protected from mistreatment.

To rule his people in fairness, Hammurabi wrote what is today known as the Hammurabi Code. This is a set of laws by which everyone was subjected to regardless of wealth or status. Some of them included;

If a builder builds a house and does not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death; if it causes the death of the owner’s son, the builder’s son shall be killed; if the walls collapse and destroy property, the builder shall restore whatever property was destroyed and rebuild the collapsed walls at his own expense.

This sounds harsh, right? And it should. By today’s standards, Hammurabi would be considered a dictator. Human rights and social media keyboard activists would call for his arraignment at The Hague and ask that he be locked up, and the key be thrown away.

But the aim of Hammurabi’s laws was simple. It was to ensure everyone fully and personally bore the risk that their actions exposed others to. This caused everyone to be conscientious in everything they did and said. Resultantly, everyone enjoyed their human rights and thrived in an environment of mutual peace, love and unity.

Finally, my unsolicited advice is to Raila, Ngunyi and Olekina; going by the number of people who support your sanctioned Purge and your tribal remarks respectively, you may have won the argument, but you have certainly lost the battle. And in battles, there are no winners. Only widows.

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.” - Theodore Roosevelt


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