OKECH KENDO: We need Jamhuri Day healing
The lesson from the 12 months ending December 31 is that, it’s possible to mend Kenya. Violated citizens deserve an alternative Kenya – a Kenya free of power-induced stupor.
The year 2018 started on a volatile note. Bottled-up anger over another rigged presidential election spilled over from the August 2017 polls. The anger found vents in street demonstrations, consumer boycotts and police brutality. The brutality was vicious and vindictive.
Even children were not spared. Baby Samantha Pendo and other children killed in the violence were hapless victims of a power structure that thrives on deceit and ethnic exclusion. It has been this way since 1963, when the presidential monster was unleashed. Kenyans should reflect on this, this Jamhuri Day.
‘Our son must be president’ mentality explains the cycle of electoral violence. The incipient feelings of exclusion explode into violence every five years when elections are rigged to keep power in ‘the House’. Gun-wielders often flee with the trophy, whose custodian is the deep State.
Atop this problematic structure sits the presidency, the ultimate prize of a system that rides on impunity and ethnic hubris. The office has attained community ownership and ethnic entitlement.
There have been three presidents from among the Kikuyu, and one from the Kalenjin. Another Kalenjin is gearing for the 2022 General Election, promising to run over anyone blocking his way. Fifty-five years after independence, right-thinking Kenyans are questioning the viability of presidential autocracy, which comes with cutthroat competition and ethnic violence.
State power is used to vandalise democracy, thereby polarising the country. The ballot does not count – the counters had the last word during the 2007, 2013 and 2017 elections.
The bidding of the incumbent alone matters, even for independent commissions, the Judiciary and other state agencies. A nervous chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Wafula Chebukati behaved like a captured child. The child betrayed his parents to survive the capture.
Meanwhile, the IEBC secretariat was rogue. It had the protection of the system of presidential impunity. Cushioned against accountability, it pandered to vested interests of the owners of state power. The national interest had been sacrificed. The losers were generously counselled to wait for another rigged election in 2022.
Ever wondered why the Jubilee presidential candidate was angry with the Supreme Court? The presidency opened the year on a ‘we shall revisit’ the Judiciary mode. How audacious were Chief Justice David Maraga and his Bench at the Supreme Court to challenge the primacy of the presidency?
As the head of government, head of state, Commander-in-Chief and partisan candidate in the election, the President felt spited. The head of the Judiciary, an arm of government, had the temerity to challenge the ‘ultimate’ authority in the land. The behaviour of the Supreme Court needed ‘fixing’.
Sixty-two per cent of Kenyans who boycotted a fresh presidential election in October felt cheated. About 38 per cent of Kenyans who voted were joyous. Their candidate had outfoxed the competition.
The year is also ending on a reconciliatory note, thanks to the Building Bridges Initiative by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the people’s leader Raila Odinga. Uhuru’s office represents the hopes of Kenyans. This symbolism can mend Kenya. He understands the onerous responsibility of mending Kenya.
Raila is more than a leader who has been elected three times, and robbed of victory as many times. His unparalleled patriotism and magnanimity give Kenya another chance mend.
Uhuru and Raila, scions of the Founding Fathers, have started the journey that deserves the goodwill of right-thinking Kenyans. One must be a crocodile to block the highway of hope for so many, for so long.
The New Year and the clamour for constitutional reforms offer an opportunity to rebrand Kenya.