For the Love Of My Country

Students of law, philosophy and other related fields are all too familiar with names like Jeremy Bentham, John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu among others. Names of people that simply refused to take things as they were and sought to explain why things worked (or did not) as they did. According to philosophers, the concept of government entails citizens ceding some of their rights to the government, and in very simple words, letting the government run the show.

Where a man is wronged, for example, the Holy Books dictates that the recompense is to do to the other what they did unto them – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. However, according to criminal law, the wrong against a man is a wrong against the Republic and the former should give up his right to ‘take the wrongdoer’s eye or tooth’ and let the government deal with the wrongdoer.

All in all, while the citizen does have a role to play within society, some roles are strictly reserved for the government. One of such roles is maintaining peace and security – a role performed by the armed forces such as the Police, the military, the Navy and the Air Force. With regard to that role, to facilitate the effective performance of such functions, governments may require citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the relevant authorities. The buck, however, stops with the government.

What has sadly become the norm today is clear evidence that sometimes, one too many times, governments fail to effectively maintain peace and order within their territories. Perfect examples are the situations in Syria, South Sudan, Libya and sadly, many other countries. Those that ought to protect the citizenry are either perpetrators of violence against their own people or have been overwhelmed by perpetrators of violence.

Kenya is a country whose history is tainted by violence, especially after the exercise of the right to vote. The post-election violence witnessed in 2007 – 2008 is one that almost brought the country to its knees. So bad was the situation that citizens have become accustomed to the idea of the possibility of war after the votes have been counted and results announced. Fast forward to 2017 and the citizens are set to go back to the voting lines in less than 37 days.

It is commendable how much responsibility the citizenry have taken to spread messages of peace and remind each other the importance of seeing the beauty in our differences. Photographs have been sent out showing political rivals engaging in conversation, laughing together and even embracing as an indication to citizens that it is neither worth it nor smart to pick up weapons and fight against people that one has lived together with because of difference in political affiliations.

Young Kenyans for Peaceful Election ‘2017 is a campaign by the Centre for Regeneration and Empowerment of Africa Through Africa aimed at promoting peace during the election period using sports; particularly football. The proposal is to bring youths from different regions of the country to participate in the tournament and, in the process, interact with one another, exchange ideas and learn to appreciate and embrace each other’s differences; whatever form they take.

There is a saying that ‘one cannot teach an old dog new tricks,’ but, whatever happened to ‘you are never too old to learn?’ The narrative has been that the youth are used by their older counterparts to perpetrate and advance violence. Peace initiatives, however, have been targeted at the youth only or mainly. Not a bad thing. My take, however, is that both the source of the problem and the means used need to be dealt with.

Such sports for peace tournaments should not only be aimed at the youth but also the older generation. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see forty or fifty-year-olds chase after a football, yell at the referee for ‘favouring the other side’ and pouring all their efforts into beating the other side? Hugging afterwards and throwing jibes at each other for ‘funny moves and tactics’ on the pitch? As Ope Adetayo says in his article “Who will be responsible for reconstruction? Everyone is responsible. The politician, the academic, the clergy, the artisan, the blue-collar, the white – collar and any other category, across all generations are responsible for the emergence of a progressive nation.”

Hawa Gaya