Is It Really Too Much Of A Stretch To Compare Kenya To Somalia Or Syria?

So, the other day I was watching TV, one of these breakfast shows on our local stations. A local politician was being interviewed, I am not sure which one, about the state of affairs in Kenya after the Kenyan general election was nullified by the Supreme Court. As fuzzy my memory is about that show, I distinctly recall the politician strongly refuting the interviewer’s claims that Kenya is on a warpath and that it could be compared to how the Somalia and Syria crises began. Again, the same thing was stated by delegates who went for the global meeting held in Brussels, Belgium recently. Kigumo MP Ruth Mwaniki threw phrases like “great resilience” and “democratic traditions” around in relation to Kenya. However, as Kenyans, we have to ask ourselves: should we trust her? I mean, we are perfectly capable of dissecting the situation on our own and making decisions by ourselves, aren’t we? Majority, if not all, of the Kenyan leaders are currently perpetuating the stereotype that politicians cannot be trusted.

Two interesting phrases I have heard this week from Kenyans: “Kimeumana Kenya” (The situation is bad in Kenya) and “Kwa nini nikapige kura wakati najua itaibwa?” (Why should I vote yet I know that my vote will not count?). These two statements just about sum it up for me. A politician might be tempted to think that they are from only two people, but I can sure you that they are not. While the words may not be the same, the message certainly is.

Children dying from gunshot wounds inflicted on them by the people who have sworn to serve and to protect all of us. “Utumishi kwa wote,” is their motto. It means “service to all.” What kind of service? The one that takes innocent children to their graves? Aside from children dying, there is a crippled economy that is moving backwards. Closed shops in major Kenyan towns like Kisumu and some in Nairobi because of the constant ethnic tension. Some youth in Kakamega have even go so far as to vandalize the railing by the side of the road to weld shut the entrances to their town. To top it off, more than half of Kenyans elected to stay at home rather than vote in the repeat poll. Taken together with the scathing drought that has hit the nation, this is a recipe that could produce a Syria or Somalia. In case you are wondering, there were two major factors that led to the Syrian conflict: dissent towards the government and searing drought.

We have seen the evidence above in our news or even right in front of our eyes. Yet, people are hell-bent on burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the crisis that is right in front of their eyes. This is what our self-serving politicians have become. So scared to admit that there is a problem that they would rather believe that all is well. In fact, some of them have turned to galvanizing people of a particular tribe to turn against another one. Unfortunately, at the current rate of things, I do not believe that we are so far away from Syria or Somalia.

All hope is not lost. As Kenyans, the need for all of us to be leaders has never been greater. It is time we realized that we need to step up and admit what our so-called leaders cannot. We need to stand up and preach for peace. We need to realize that we are so much more than our tribes. That we are smarter than what some foolish leaders tell us to do or believe. If for nothing else, then for our children. Think about what we are leaving for them. A united nation full of vigour and opportunities for them, or a husk of what was once a glorious and prosperous nation? I preach and stand for peace.

Ferdinand Bada
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