Alliance Girls High School
Charles Dickens
Martin Niemöller

We need light, not this darkness

Rumours sprout in the dark like bush fire. Once raging,the inferno consumes everything on its way. Mansions of the rich and hovels of paupers are fair game when the rage picks up pace.

By switching off the light, they have procured matchboxes. Fires have been lit in all sorts of places. A reactionary strategy, in its raw form, inspires anarchy.

Fighting the messenger to block the message, destroying private property, sabotaging private businesses, arbitrary arrests and running victims across town have escalated the situation.

Locking the stable when the horses have bolted cannot settle this stalemate. Too many things have gone wrong, the country needs new thinking to sort out the mess.

It is naive to expect a resolution to the selfishness that has generated the stalemate. The need for sobriety and reason is urgent to stop the eclipse.

This is not the situation right-thinking citizens want for Kenya. One where peace and justice were supposed to be the bulwark against anarchy and injustice. One where the indifference of a section of the media was a fatal mistake.

This country is rich enough to service the needs of all its citizens. But the greed of the power clique is driving the land of contrasts into the claws of apocalyptic darkness.

The consequences are stark when those who should speak truth to power are silent. Indifference is complicity, which always returns to haunt its architects.

Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor in the Germany of Adolph Hitler’s Holocaust, , appreciated the cost of indifference:

“First they came for the socialists, I did not speak out — Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for trade unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a trade unionist. They came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The Niemöller allusion is a message for the clergy generally, and the Church and the press, particularly. The opportunistic indifference of these institutions, and love for self-serving darkness, is a matter of national notoriety.

Powerful Kenyan adults love to sit in the dark when children are being taught to walk in the light. ‘Walking in the Light’ is the motto of the premier educational institution, the Alliance Girls High School. But we are celebrating darkness, believing what you do not see does not exist.

Think of the dog that shits with its eyes shut, imagining that it’s not being seen yet it’s the one that has buried its head in the sand. Ostriches have since learnt the times have changed. We should not chase rats when the house is burning. The architects of darkness claim they put out the light to protect fragile Kenyans from the blast of ‘dangerous’ information. Kenya, they suppose, is safer in darkness in the age of light — a fatal mistake.

English writer Charles Dickens captures the duality — of preference for darkness in the age of light — in A Tale of Two Cities: The clashing emotions of the two Kenyas —one thriving in the dark and another craving the light.

Dickens writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Darkness breeds rumours — the comical and the tragic, the callous and the pathetic, the hateful and the contemptuous, of vengeance and revenge.

These are some of the ingredients you need to burn a country. For lack of constitutionalism, leadership, foresight, and vision, it is as though the 2010 Constitution means nothing when it was supposed to shine the light.

Do not claim you wished you knew. You know mendacity always breeds anarchy. It is easier to manage the light than this consuming darkness.

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