Kenya needs freedom and prosperity-compatible democratic practices

Dr. Nyatundo George Oruongo is an Adjunct Lecturer, School of Law, Africa Nazarene University and Visiting Lecturer, School of Law, Kisii University. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Dr. Nyatundo George Oruongo is an Adjunct Lecturer, School of Law, Africa Nazarene University and Visiting Lecturer, School of Law, Kisii University. PHOTO/Courtesy.

In Kenyan politics, the makeover has been for the worse. It is all loss. The bloom for an open-air truth has fallen under the gloom of sensationalism, deceit and misinformation.

Indeed, for a political chair, anything goes! If the release of populist political party manifesto extravaganzas were flashy, the debates turned flamboyant.

Critics characterized the assurances therefrom as empty, wild, unrealistic and barren, just as devotees hailed them as restorative, revolutionary and messianic.

But surely, under the flood of rhetoric, reality has been drowned by certain obvious realities of the day.

Today, hunger, drought, lawlessness and fear define ordinary Kenyan life.

Kenyans have been subjected to political regimes that define and implement governance within the context of violence, intimidation and corruption.

Muscular ethnic crevasses, contradictory politics, political manipulation, and socio-economic imparities add spin to the vicious cycle.

These negative ingredients undercut the positive execution of economic reform, human rights and good democratic governance.

This has been the same before and after flag independence. The general lack of transparency and accountability brings a near consensus that can be tagged as a democratic recession.

For better or for worse, the truth is more dialectical. The rhetoric of Kenya’s democracy, shared by leaders across the aisle, is political rather than socio-economic.

We experience a complex of political forces which aggressively refuse to assemble restfully but frequently cohabit creatively in stiffness that is the spirit of a workable democracy.

Unfortunately, such creativity is lacking in people’s psyches. To them, the political sphere is consciously cultivated as a series of neck-breaking oppositions without a reverse gear.

It’s here that our leadership can do better to propagate a language of politics that waxes a democratic practice compatible with coexistence, freedom and prosperity.

Regrettably, the past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past. The existing explicit structures of Kenyan life seem inconsistent to any observer.

There’s a nest of tussles, including wild loss of jobs, insecurity of businesses, property and livelihoods and spiraling unemployment.

Inflation and the cost of living are frightening. Runaway price rises of fuel, food and other essential commodities rub salt in the wounds.

The debate regarding the importation of maize, while some quarters believe that the country has sufficient local supply, is a stunning punch, just as that of ‘competition to die’ in connection with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is a total knockout.

Then, why is our destination not improving even with better access to healthcare, educational and public service delivery, urbanization and social mobility?

In principle, political transformation hinges upon economic change. It goes without mentioning that all changes begin as a political revolution.

In theory, therefore, equality produces citizens, yet, in practice, it is citizenship that confers equality.

However, our political dialectics are not always based on substantive issues.

The scuffle for social prestige has been a battle of who best influences or controls the franchise in Kenya, not what betters the overall condition of the people.

This is even when such a process has often and blatantly failed to deliver on its promises. We need, therefore, to explore ways of enriching citizenship to decorate it with more feathers beyond taxpaying and voting.

Indeed, the consequences of democratic building and renewal are notorious. The exercise of authority and power, therefore, lies at the root of governance.

Governments employ the authority and power in their hands to found and maintain honest and predictable governmental institutions that order economic and social intercourse.

In essence, governments, in their interactions with citizens, determine many of the prerequisites for a thriving or diminishing economy. This interface makes integrity in governance processes a mandatory requirement.

On the flip side, it’s crucial that we take ourselves seriously as citizens, not merely voters, not just as clients or government wards.

We, the sovereign People, are the true rulers: self-governors, masters of our own fate.

The citizens need to participate in charting the plot of shaping their lives. This calls for attention beyond the enthralling politics of entertainment in which slick images are sponsored as a way to circumvent debate on substantive issues.

It is a type of politics in which the citizens want to actively engage in rather than watch from afar.

Wisdom is to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Little inertia and democracy is adulterated for good.

Democracies have rarely perished at the hands of armed guerrillas, external militia or strange philosophies. They have wrinkled increasingly from within, lost skin voluntarily by ennui and apathy, passivity and contentment, inattention and self-indulgence.

Thus, democracy can survive if it’s secured not by great leaders but by competent, erudite and responsible citizens. Brethren, let’s labor to do whatever is good.

Dr. Nyatundo George Oruongo is an Adjunct Lecturer School of Law, Africa Nazarene University and Visiting Lecturer School of Law, Kisii University.

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Dr. Oruongo is a Kenyan Legal Scholar based in India. His contact:


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