Home Editor's Picks EDITOR’S PICK: “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, My Fellow Countrymen. An Election Isn’t A Matter Of Life And Death”
Editor's Picks - Politics - June 14, 2022

EDITOR’S PICK: “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, My Fellow Countrymen. An Election Isn’t A Matter Of Life And Death”

The date is 31st December 2007, and the day a Monday morning. The venue is my home market center, one of those which police describe as hotspots. Kivuitu the chairman of the now-defunct electoral body ECK, had a day before announced the presidential results for the elections which happened on 28th of the same month, the same elections he told all and sundry he didn’t know who had won but still went ahead to announce one of the contenders, Mwai Kibaki of PNU, the winner.

The weather is cloudy and gloomy, very uncharacteristic of a typical December. Maybe nature is also apprehensive of what is about to happen. Nothing unusual has happened so far, but all shops are closed and there is zero activity in the market. Apart from residents gathering in groups and communicating in whispers, it is evident that something is amiss. Although no one knows exactly what may happen, everyone fears Armageddon may be warming up, for them.

Two friends meet and the usual introductory banter is missing. One of them is Patrick and the other one is Sila (these aren’t their real names). These are childhood friends who grew up together, lived in the same neighborhood, and hitherto, they’ve not found a reason not to talk to each other, but seems today is the day. Patrick stood akimbo facing the direction of Sila, who was closing the distance with his long strides, pacing towards him.

Patrick notices that his friend is today deficient in his trademark smile but that’s not an issue to worry about. Sila is wearing a displeased and arrived face, in the void left by a missing smile.


Patrick salutes him.

His friend doesn’t respond but keeps advancing towards him.

Smelling danger, Patrick repeats his greetings but the man remains as calm as a dead man’s buttocks. He is now a few steps away from the worried Patrick.

Sila then dips his hands inside the beast pocket of the black leather jacket he is wearing and fishes out a small axe and holds it in a position ready to hewn Patrick’s neck. At this point, Patrick engages the flight gear and takes off with the speed of Ferdinand Omanyala.

His aggressor gives him a chase but luckily, a cocktail of factors saves his neck from his aggressor’s weapon. He has saved his throat from a forced surgery. Having been an astute footballer means he was a good athlete and powered by adrenaline, he is too fast for the blood-thirsty friend. He has escaped the temporary madness.

At what time did the two become enemies, to the level of one being hunting each other like a wild game, for a meal? Later, when Kofi Anan brokered a peace deal, the two friends turned enemies found a reason for a renewed camaraderie. This essentially means a poor man is ready to sacrifice his fellow poor man for a rich man of his tribe to get a ministerial position, etc.

We are always friends. Good friends, until elections happen. We live together work together, school together, attend social functions together, fundraise together for a friend’s wedding etc., without caring to learn which languages any of them speak.

Although we do not choose a community to be born in, neither can we veto the decision of our creators, for us to be of some tribes, an election can make you hate the tribe you were born in. Do the leaders we fight for also partake in this hatred medication they’ve taught us to swallow each election? No! The hatred they have for each other is very sandak. Very plastic.

Fidel Odinga passed on at the peak of the Odinga/Uhuru animosity but his body was flown to Nyanza for burial, in a KDF Puma, one of the most superior choppers in the country’s military. Of course, this was Uhuru’s donation to his friend Jakom, as a sadaka. Would Uhuru do the same if the dead was one of his hoi polloi kinsmen selling ‘mutura’ at Kiamaiko?

No. It is plainly that simple. In fact, when Garissa University was attacked by the Shabaab bandits, the rescuers from the Ruiru-based Recce Squad took forever to reach the place, because the government didn’t have the means to fly the elite ranges to the scene, from their base. Where was the military chopper that was later available for Fidel? Someone may argue that the law prohibits such usage, but again it will be strange that the same law allows the helicopter to be used as a hearse. Was the creator of this law high on cannabis? Or someone just squashed the law, to benefit the oligarchy of this country.

In 2017, a few days before elections, the very period that ethnic hatred is supposed to hit a crescendo, Uhuru’s son Muhoho, Raila’s son Raila Junior and Ruto’s son Nick, were photographed together, enjoying drinks at an exclusive members club in Nairobi. A 1.5 million receipt, allegedly for the escapade did rounds online, with Kenyans wondering aloud why they’ve diligently inherited enemies of these leaders, yet they continue bonding in an unbridled friendship.

With less than 80 days to go to the next elections, Kenyans must learn from our ugly history and avoid the dark spots. You will need your friend/neighbor, more than you need that politician. In fact, that politician doesn’t even know you. When elections are over, the rich and the connected will find their way to the buttered side of the bread as the poor walk home empty-handed, telling their neighbors “tuko kwa serikali”. The rich will eat the steak of the slaughtered animal that is the government, as the masses settle for the hooves, the muzzle, the tail, the lungs, and other parts, inedible under normal circumstances.

Before elections, Bwana Mheshimiwa walks around with goons, mostly children of the poor, offering delinquent services like heckling and attacking opponents, pro bono. At this time the aspirant’s wife and children are safe at home but once ivory has been achieved, he takes his children with him to the swearing-in ceremony as the poor guys retrieve to the shanties they call home, to concentrate on their poverty.

Wake up and smell the coffee, my fellow countrymen. An election isn’t a matter of life and death.

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