Saturday, August 18, 2007

Burning The Midnight Oil?

A slight change from the norm... a rant

The pre-election night meetings currently being held by Members of Parliament remind me of the recent Mungiki’s dead of the night oath taking sessions. For a lot who haven’t had time to attend parliament during sessions, or when they have attended, have almost fallen out of their seats into the embrace of slumber; for a lot who time and again have failed to fulfil promises made to constituents or even stay in their offices long enough to be available to Kenyans, it’s amazing to what lengths they will go to retain power. The similarity is in the different classes fighting to garner power using deceptively alluring methods. Promises of security, be it societal, individual or economic, will always raise the hopes of the marginalized, providing the bearer of the promise an almost sure ticket to parliament. What better tool to use than tribe?

Looking back at the previous regimes, and especially at their electioneering methods, one can almost pre-empt the next move of our now desperate MPs. Opinion polls indicate that only 10%, or a mere 21elected members, out of 210 have any chance of getting back to parliament. What happens to the remaining 189 distinguished members of parliament? It goes almost without saying, that this is the lot who will go back to the drawing board, drawing heavily on historically proven electioneering methods that work on the majority of the populace. Their target is the peasants and workers, who are the most marginalized and downtrodden in the country.

Time and again, this vulnerable lot have been looked in the face and lied to, while their votes were bought by divisive talk of ‘our tribe’. Campaigns are filled with empty rhetoric like ‘it’s our time to dish out the cake’, ‘when will we ever sit in the big chair’, ‘how long will our people be followers instead of leaders’, etc. Each time a new party is created, the people perk up anticipating fundamental changes that will bring definite and visible transformation to their lives, alleviating poverty and empowering them. They literally place their lives in the ODMs, NARCs, and FORDs, only to hear a slightly modified version of the same old muddied ideology! All new parties claim to be a party for the people yet the people’s participation seems necessary only as givers or sellers of votes.

Back to the nightly tribal meetings, it’s painfully amusing to see these same MPs wine and dine together, after publicly trading insults that leave members of different tribes at war with each other. Hearing President Kibaki heap praise upon Dictator Moi should be an eye opener to all of us who still think that tribe is the greatest unifying factor in the country. In my opinion, it is one of the most divisive tools used by our politicians and a key contributory factor to the underdevelopment of Kenya.

In Kwa-Maiko, Wambui’s house is next to Otieno’s on the right and Musyoka’s on the left. During the last elections, Njoroge, Wambui’s husband would not talk to Otieno for a few months leading to the elections. This was because Otieno insisted that Raila should take the presidency. He gave a myriad of reasons why, Oginga Odinga should have been president, and therefore Raila should now be president. It was definitely the turn of the Luos, he said. Otieno said his lifestyle would improve this time and he promised to assist his neighbours if the Luos came into power. Njoroge felt strongly that Kikuyus were better leaders and would improve the economy. He said it was their time, seeing that the other Kikuyu leader took over from colonialists and didn’t have a fair chance at making any changes.

Five years after that election, Njoroge has since lost his job and moved to an even cheaper part of the slum. Otieno and Musyoka are still neighbours, still playing cat and mouse games with the city council askaris while attempting to earn a living as hawkers in the capital city. Kibaki’s reign has not brought any change in the lifestyles of the three families, all from different tribes. In fact, the prices of must-buys like sugar, flour, cooking oil, etc has leapt like a striking snake, paralysing their lives with each price increase.

After a good day, with fewer running battles with the city council askaris, Musyoka and Otieno will visit Njoroge who has since taken to drinking illicit brew, bearing a small paper bag filled with ‘mafuta ya kupima’, sugar, tea leaves, a one litre plastic bottle filled with paraffin and sometimes even a loaf of bread for the children.

In the meantime, the Railas’ and Kibakis’ lifestyles have improved. Like the proverbial dog’s crumbs, a little money thrown to the middle classes makes them believe that the economy has greatly improved. Individualism reigns supreme as they think only of their class. In the meantime, corrupt deals are the order of the day. The government takes on additional debt in the knowledge that these debts will be paid by increased taxes on workers. Payment to farmers for milk, vegetables, and meat is increased on one hand and taken on the other by in increase in levies and the prices of basic necessities. The Railas increase their salaries, drive flashier cars, and take more expensive family vacations, all paid for by workers taxes.

Is it any wonder then that they are meeting in the dead of night to strategize?

PoP 17 Aug 07


alexcia said...

Why drag ODM (and Raila for that matter) into the mess in Kibaki and his GNU (and the absent Uhuru lead opposition) bringing to Kenya?

Check the voting record of each MP individually and let each one bear his own cross

Lioness said...

Because from where I stand, Kibaki, Raila, Moi, Awori, Kalonzo all have the same agenda. Looking at the current 'GNU', and the presidential hopefuls proposals for change, do you see any fundamental issues addressed? The ruling class, the disillusioned and greedy petty bourgeoisie, the desperate worker and peasant classes continue to pass on power from one dirty hand to another hence encouraging the ruling class to bleed the country dry, squeeze the last drop of blood out of the working class and peasantry without caring about the rights of the majority. Why are the majority of Kenyans getting poorer while the ruling and petty bourgeoisie continue to thrive?

Viekevie said...

Thank you for sharing the real story of Kenya.