By Cavin Odhiambo
A few weeks ago I started a Youtube channel called Be The Leader (BTL) to talk about leadership and entrepreneurship. The decision to include leadership as a contemporary was informed by the political temperatures that we experience every year in the run-up to general elections.
It has almost become a norm that we will experience a heated political temperature every five years when a general election is called; a situation which causes unrest not only to the political class but as well as to the business community and entire economy. Unlike in mature democracies, an election period in Kenya has always been a period of unrest and calamities. I was privileged to be a participant in the previous election as a voter, but I have to admit that if asked if I can redo it, I will definitely say NO. I was deceived.
Every five years, Kenyans are called upon to go and exercise their democratic rights of electing their political representatives through the ballot. This is supposed to be a very sacred and ordained process of bestowing trust to the politicians with a social contract to lead in the best interest of the electorate, something that probably only one out of ten politicians in Kenya would understand.
However, there has always been deception through political narratives which leads Kenyan electorate into making wrongful choices when they get to the ballot. If you are keen enough, you will notice that every election year there is a political narrative which politicians use to win the electorates’ sympathy. Most notably, I remember the famous “Young Vs Old” of 2017 and the current “Hustlers Vs Dynasties”. These are political phrases that trigger poor decision making by the myopic electorate. Such political tactics have ensured that the electorate lives regretful and wishful life year in year out.
Well, I choose to go with the current Hustlers vs Dynasties narrative. There is always a very common word which comes up whenever you google-search or peruse through the dictionary for the word ‘hustler’; Fraudulent. Who is a hustler? A hustler is someone who employs fraudulent and unscrupulous ways to obtain money or wealth; a swindler. Kenyans are being made to assume the meaning of a hustler and believe that a swindler is the best person to lead them in the top seat by people who have spent a better part of their lifetimes in governments serving under various departments and capacities. The narrative is trying to deceive the ordinary electorate that people who can afford to fuel choppers every day and crisscross the country at least every weekend are of their equal and that they have their interests at heart only a few months to the general election.
It is such narratives that have for the longest time divided the electorate along the lines of us vs. them. Kenyan youths who a majority doesn’t have even an NHIF cover are being used every election season to orchestrate chaotic and dramatic scenes by politicians who are under hefty medical insurances. Politicians have always taken advantage of the ignorance of the electorate and exploited them to gain political mileage and sneak into elective seats.
The day we shall have achieved political freedom and solace is the day Kenyans will elect leaders based on scorecards and not promises. Leaders who want to be trusted by the social contract to represent the interest of the ordinary electorate in a public office should be able to first showcase what they have been able to do. Unfortunately, Kenyans have been falling for political promises which neither makes economic nor ethical sense.
I am yearning for a Kenya that the electorate will be screening their leaders before nominations and not after the election. It’s laughable that while other countries and continents are embracing and investing in industrial revolutions, here in Kenya we are still accepting and fighting for meagre handouts which will never bring about any long-lasting solutions to unemployment, hunger, social injustice, security and poverty. Where are legislations and acts that would provide lifetime solutions to some of these contemporary problems faced by ordinary Kenyans?
Politicians have made Kenyans believe that their rights are favours. Do Kenyans really know that they are entitled to affordable and quality healthcare, quality infrastructure, a stable economy, quality education, a secured country, quality food products and more? I wish they did, they wouldn’t be going about dancing around people who have failed to diligently and honestly dispense these services and only use them for political sympathy.
Kenya needs a total social revolution and ethical renovation in the political class and among the electorate, if we have to come to an end of political turbulence that comes every election season. Youths do not have to be coached to parade in groups and masquerade each other every election year.