The common denominator for men and women of my generation, born before 1980, was that no one was above a good beating. Our parents were from the school of hard knocks. They swore by the words, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child”. I grew knowing my parents wrath came from a place of good intentions. The punishment was structured and one even got to fetch the cane that would be used to inflict pain and deliver a lesson. When disciplining was over, we were reminded that the world would not be so kind. That is what good parenting entailed.
“Who is next” is the title of a report by Mathare Social Justice Centre ( MSJC) launched on 30th of May at the British Institute in Eastern Africa, in Nairobi. It documents over 50 cases of young men arbitrarily executed by alleged rogue police force members in Mathare. The majority were between 14 and 20 years old. It poses the loaded question, why have extrajudicial killings become accepted as normalized incidents for inner city urban youth in Kenya?
The story of Mathare’s extrajudicial executions of young men is a story repeated in Kibera, Kayole, Dandora, Eastleigh, Majengo in Mombasa and Obunga in Kisumu. It is the reality of been born into hardship and violence in a society that criminalizes youth and poverty.
The campaign season enters its final leg and all Kenyans have become political analysts. Political power barons and their lackeys dominate the media space competing for eyeballs. We track their every move, tune in at the appointed hour to keep up with their engagements, like fans of a compelling reality TV show. We spend hours discussing their tactics, analysing the moves of our favourite political power barons flexing muscle at mammoth public rallies, exciting adoring masses with their mere presence.
These special ones, exalted by the offices they seek, hold audiences in a daze. On their large shoulders, our hopes and dreams hang. The young boys watching all this, in the innocence of youth, can only be enthralled with the amount of media consumed these days. It is expected. As a young boy growing up in the 80s, I believed that presidents were anointed by God.