Call me an optimist and I am but I would want to believe there are far more Kenyans that love our country and would want to see us all coexist in peace than those who don’t or who could care less.
I would also want to believe there is an even smaller number of those who would proactively plan, sponsor or actively engage in creating chaos and a general sense of insecurity in the country.
However, as we all know, and tragically learned from the events following 2007 elections, it doesn’t take much to put the whole country up in flames and lose everything we have thus far attained, not just from independence but, more importantly, the gains we have made since promulgation of the new constitution that we obviously need to and must build on for a better future.
It is said history often repeats itself.
When it comes to elections in Kenya, there are several predictable things we can say happen each general election circle, taking 2007 out as an anomaly to the extent it applies to one of these unfortunately, “musts” described more broadly.
First, there is a tendency for increased stoking up of tribal tensions in key hotspots and these can be loosely defined as areas where “strangers” are perceived to occupy land that the “locals” consider to be theirs and wrongly taken from them decades back.
Second, these tensions often escalate to violence climaxing at actual election time. The year 2007 was the anomaly in this increased tensions and violence to the extent the violence was unprecedented and beyond what anyone other than, perhaps, the perpetrators knew Kenyans were capable of; before 2007, these are barbaric acts most believed were only possible in other countries but not in Kenya.
Third, there is always widespread rigging and one can count on it happening again the question is, to what extent; again, here 2007 was an exception and an anomaly to the extent the rigging was so flagrant and unprecedented, hardly anyone other than those who rigged knew was possible.
Given this history, what must be done we at least don’t see anything even remotely close to a repeat of 2007?
To begin with, how about taking this pledge previously published in the Standard:
- I promise to put my interests and those of my family first in all decisions I make and see to it that those interests are met through the labor of my hard work supplemented by others only to the extent they are a means to meet my objectives and this includes decisions I make about who to vote for in the upcoming general elections.
- I promise to only vote for and elect leaders who put the country first, and their interests of those of their cronies second or last.
- I promise not to vote for anyone solely on the basis they come from my tribe or ethnic group and, conversely, I promise not to withhold my vote from anyone solely because they are from any particular community.
- I promise not to vote for any politician who seeks to divide our country or gain office by divisive and tribal tactics but, conversely, I promise to vote only for those candidates who seek to unite our country and have a proven record for doing so.
- I promise to be fair and open minded in evaluating candidates to vote for and base my decision not on the basis of misinformation, lies and distortions but on the basis of known facts, leadership ability, integrity and their stated positions on the issues that I care about.
- I promise to constantly remind myself that I don’t know better than the next person who knows best and in the event I don’t, I pray that God gives me the wisdom and/or ability to know better.
- I promise to be considerate of the interests of my fellow Kenyans even as I pursue mine to the maximum extent possible.
- I promise not to be a hypocrite and if I am, may God make it possible for all to see through my words and deeds, including those appearing in print or on computer screens as a result of my fingers typing at the direction of my wicked mind.
- I promise not to hate anyone or wish them ill just for who they are and even if they have wronged me, I promise to find ways to forgive them as God instructs us all to do and that is, to love one another.
- I promise to do my part in bringing about change in our country, including keeping these promises, or even running for public office myself, which should be a good start.
If all or most Kenyans keep all of these promises, and remain faithful to the end, then it wouldn’t matter who emerges at the top as the winner and is sworn as our next president for that person would be governing a country united and ready to match forward as never before–more than even the euphoria of 2002.
That’s the Kenya we should all desire.
That’s the Kenya we must have in short order.
The only one stopping us, is us.
Very soon there will be a lot of heated discussions, especially in the social media.
Here are a few things to keep in mind and the bit we each do, we shall have taken great steps in ensuring a peaceful election unlike any before, other than, perhaps 2002, if not better:
- Avoid any references to tribes that in the view of any person with ordinary sensibilities from that community will be offended by such reference
- Be on a look-out and reject enemies of peace who may want to exploit tribalism for their selfish benefit or at the behest of others with same selfish intentions neither both of which are harmful to our country, especially the latter who can create great havoc by being paid a few hundred shillings.
- Engage in robust debate but stay away from hate speech as defined by the National Cohesion and Integration Commision
- Avoid use of language that tends to excite people into hostilities, including the use of foul, insulting and other unacceptable language to people of ordinary sensibilities
- Remember, in the end we each have a responsibility about what happens to our beloved country and what her future shall be; do your best and always do the right thing, viewed from the perspective of what does it benefit the country as a whole, not your individual selfish or misguided needs.
That’s my hope and prayer.