Guest Post: A Lament For My Country

Words: Anyango Odhiambo

53 years since Kenya’s independence I have little to commemorate and nothing to celebrate. It bothers me the way we are glossing over the past with such aplomb yet in the present we have outgrown our national significance. We are yet to instill a national identity or a sense of national unity among the people living within our borders.

Functioning in a democracy requires more than marking a ballot every five years. It also requires an informed citizenry, knowledgeable about concepts of justice, notions of logic, approaches to problem-solving, ideals in child rearing, gender roles, values, morality and worldviews.

Kenya has sunk into a blind allegiance to a system, which has no recourse to any sort of higher human values.

The Githeri Man

August 10, 2017.

It felt like an eerie calm before a storm. We were in the midst of what was brewing up to be another disputed election. The NASA coalition leader, Raila Odinga had raised concerns over the credibility of the election process by tabling a hacking allegation. The response from Wafula Chebukati was cagey at first before IEBC out rightly denied Raila’s claims. On the public opinion forums the conversations were dominated by techies trading knowledge on databases and log files.

It had only been three days since Kenyans turned out to vote on August 8th but the suspense had already started to bite as ordinary folk got jittery. Hour after hour of news analysis and commentary had left viewers either more confused or anxious. Underlying it all was the sickening feeling of de ja vu. We had been here before.  

Of The State Of Hypernormalisation and Murder

 

I did not know Chris Msando. I was only able to attach his name to a familiar face I had seen on TV, making a case for technology on TV panels. Before his passing, he was a nobody. Just another Kenyan with unenviable task of managing a national election and like most people who work for public institutions, I supposed that he was beholden to the vested interests in his place of work.

On the day IEBC put out a report that one of their employees had gone missing, I remember feeling somewhat apprehensive. There was no name given and with the amount of propaganda flying about in this election period, it could fake news for all I cared. Nonetheless, public officials who go missing tend to wind up dead. “It is normal?” a friend a commented as matter of fact.

My Tribe Is Justice

Zeituni Onyango was Barack Obama’s auntie. Obama writes about meeting her for the first time his best selling memoirs “Dreams of My Father” the story of reconnecting with his roots and finding a sense of belonging in Kenya. His sister Auma had given her ride to her place of work in a temperamental VW Beetle in Nairobi. As Auntie Zeituni was leaving the car for her office at the Kenya Breweries, where she worked as a computer programmer, she kissed Obama on the cheek and then turned to Auma and said, “ Make sure he doesn’t get lost again”.

This was an expression that Obama had never encountered and he asked his sister Auma what his Auntie Zeituni meant by getting lost. Auma explained the two meanings.

Of Miguna And That Nairobi Debate

Political TV public debates are becoming standard fare in the election cycle. Kenyans want to know what their leaders sound like and whether they can stand up to personal scrutiny required of public office. Debates are a space to toot one’s horn for all to hear. They allow observers to look for signals of high status within the male group, and for the debaters to demonstrate strength, courage and competence.

So when the candidates for the governor position lined up last week for a debate organised by KTN news, Nairobi was watching. It was an all man panel, four candidates and moderated by KTN’s Joe Ageyo. On the stage were the incumbent Evans Kidero, Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and independent candidate Miguna Miguna.