The Political Revolution.
A worthwhile flashback on this particular topic is well deserved. On the heels of Kenya’s second revolution (the first being attainment of Independence), the removal of Nyayo, as Moi was popularly known, along with several other pseudo names, such as Baba, Mzee, Mo1, some given, some well achieved ; but all referring to his superiority/charisma as a leader. We got ourselves Stanley Mwai Kibaki, an economist and long standing political figure ; accredited to putting our economy higher than those of most countries in Asia, and improving agriculture such that Kenyan tea and Coffee was synonymous to quality caffeine. One hell of a profile of public work, it was time to install this over achiever in State House to do his magic to our dying economy.
At a time when most of the population were youths,well informed and those who had bore witness to atrocities over the Nyayo error: the politically-backed tribal clashes, tortures of prominent and non-prominent Kenyans in the ominous Nyayo house basement. A time when crushing of nuts, no matter how much of Titanium was within was a common occurrence, guys getting nubbed from street corners after mention of ‘Baba’s’ name in bad light, a slight tap on your shoulder introduced to hitmen with one order and one only ‘to screw you over too hard for memory to work’ and if your head turned out to be too hard to convince otherwise (very few got here) a lorry(rumored to be the Isuzu TX) would ‘accidentally’ crash into you as you negotiated the wavy corners of the narrow Naivasha-Nakuru highway;such deeds put an end to many of our ambitious to-be-leaders, ambitious leaders who had had a keen eye on our country since independence. The few that survived are the ones we ‘millenials’ call old/ancient; Raila Odinga, James Orengo, Martin Sikuku and many more.
Given this patch of our past, you would understand the electric hope that brought in Mwai Kibaki, the spirit that everyone in the nation had caught,the realization that we can achieve anything, the light at the end of the tunnel was finally within grasp. Now the political satire songs could not only be sang but preformed in front of Baba, Nyayo, Mo1, the Power-House, the One Army. We were truly free, the ‘newcomers’ had not disappointed in their ambitions, tabling irresistible offers: free Education program to all, construction of roads, the lifting of manufacturing plants, those that would finally bring in foreign exchange and many many more. This kind of hope is electric and such a power you don’t stand in front of, whether it be right or wrong. Perhaps the most intriguing change we experienced was the opening up of liberty and media, we could now broadcast and get information untainted by the state’s touch or oppression ,bloggers like me could now write and post their thought, perception of truth, without fear of recourse. Kenya was free of Neo-colonialism finally after decades of freedom. Salute to the politicians who stood strong, a moment of silence to those who died and /or suffered : Pinto Gama Pinto, Matiba, J. M Kariuki, Father Kaisser, Tom Mboya and many many more.
Fast forward to the 2007 elections, the country was split between two heavy hitters, Kibaki & Raila. Both with vibrant profiles, one self-made brilliant economist, with a record from his secondary school as having garnered the highest point in economics, former bus tout, achieving minister in finance and agriculture, Kibaki was truly a star. The other’s roots and legacy streched from before our independence, carrying not just his own but his father’s legacy, Oginga Odinga selflessly refused to accept Kenya’s independence until all political detainees were set free, stepping down to Jomo Kenyatta. Now there was one of Kenya’s defining move, young Raila saw that same government turn black and ugly and sort to fight for equality, in the opposition since we can recall, it seems as if he inherited the seat from his father who left government 3 years after independence. You can feel his passion, as he charismatically moves crowds with a simple ‘Kitendawili’ fluent and carrying the hopes and dreams of a people neglected and forgotten since independence, he is a force to reckon with. The two matched head to head more severely since earlier on they publicly joined forces to oust the notorious Nyayo error.
The two head to head, guns onto each other’s head, the weight of their cronies and tribesmen fueling their claim, legitimizing their ambition and most importantly keeping them from turning back pressing them on like two cocks in a betting fight. Whatever relationship they had before vaporizes amidst this kind of heat. And a stand off occurred, not all like the cowboy stand offs, or Russian Roullets ,this was ungoverned, no rules, no system, no gentlemanly, no superior power to adhere to(Mo1 was out so who could) people knew their power and wouldn’t falter and seat back as their decision was stepped on. They were like a relentless shark having tasted blood. For a whole five years we had tasted freedom and couldn’t let go! So we protected it as well as we knew how to. Machete’s were sharpened, youth gangs were employed by a political oligarch, neighbor turned foe, our streets battle ground, friends were now just your tribesmen alliances long lost were rekindled, alliances across these borders were broken just as fast.
The country was now hot, both sides certain of their victory on the ballot, our image of a free democracy! Mr. Kivuitu of ECK, at pains to explain results from different regions, before a violent audience, heavily disputing them, some legitimately, some to keep their numbers up. At some point in the exchange it seemed as if the ballot wouldn’t decide and that the only winner would be the victor in a Bloodbath! A moment of silence and heads would roll falling off.
Our tribal roots were re-discovered ,tribal lands re-defined, wow unto you if you found yourself or your property outside your traditional region. We were wrong for imagining the death of our traditional warriors for they not only arose and stood tall but exacted as much animosity against their tribal foes as centuries could pack. Hate and blame that had accumulated since independence, when the country was split among the few power houses. Groups of men came together door to door ridding themselves of their foes, men, women even children not spared. Word spread quick to other regions, and the drums of war reverberated across our nation, as others reacted to news of their kinsmen pain with equal if not more blows. The country was suddenly in a deluge of systematic breakdown of order and peace. Those of us young and innocent of the world were wide mouthed, agape, thrust with the reality of deep seated hatred and violence much much older than our beloved Nation.
In a short time all the progress we had made, not just the previous five years but since independence, was threatened with complete obliteration. The economy stood still, spurring even the most refined of our people to speak, they couldn’t assume as they had many times before; the sight of shops closed, milk and bread undelivered, violence in different areas airing all day on media unceasingly. A chill spread to all and sundry equally not loosing it’s frost bites, we had to stop!!!! Images of media personalities shunning the violence comes to mind, Churchill the Comedian too, as serious as he can be, calling for a quick resolution. In the back ground schools closed as those in affected areas sought to move towards more peaceful areas. Nairobi was struck by violence too, calls for mass action by ODM principals, resulted to running battles.
We witnessed the swearing in of Kibaki i to power, quick and unceremoniously,another first, despite only seeing one other swearing in we didn’t know how one should look like. The rest that followed is history as Kibaki took office and sought to calm the nation, bringing in peace and a semblance of order. Needless to say that things would never be the same since that.
Fast forward to 2016, we have a huge youthful population, 41 million in number. The media is free to publish and that it does,especially of the notoriety popular in government. Remember the free primary education? Yes these are the beneficiaries, now all grown past almost-free high school education. Now in universities and/or running vibrant businesses from their social media accounts via their phones. Driving up trade and eager for success. These are the catalyst of the much awaited change we so wish for, these individuals in their millions, armed with information and packed with ambition; these are the ones who change faster than our older leaders can keep up with. Impressive though they don’t subscribe to nonsense, they would fight boldly to preserve their nation’s respect; recall the ‘hotbed’ of terror headline? The posts of a government arm bragging of his diplomatic passport? In retrospect I am hopeful for our nation.