opinionBy Koigi Wamwere
As we approach general elections, for several reasons, Kenyans don't seem to take this most important national exercise with the absolute seriousness that it deserves. First, the Kikuyu proverb expresses the absolute necessity and centrality of good leadership to society when it says, "When the leader limps, the flock does not reach the pastures." Without good leaders, people have nothing. To understand this, however, people must realise bad leaders are responsible for all our problems while few good leaders deserve credit for the few good things we have.
To eradicate our problems, we must use elections to replace our bad with good leaders unless we have decided to commit national suicide or drive our bad leaders out of power with war. Second, Kenyans no longer see elections as a supremely important social instrument of changing leaders. They see them as a game of musical chairs where leaders replace one another at the high table where people have no space or power to influence.
Third, realising that elections are controlled completely by their bad leaders and people are only called upon to rubber stamp their almost pre-determined results, masses take elections as a nation-wide carnival where leaders in colorful clothes descend upon them from flying objects called helicopters or come to them on roads in music-blaring long trucks in which musicians and dancers entertain them, first to distract them from the real purpose of elections and second to mislead them into legitimising the emasculation of the electoral process by elites.
Rather than engage people in a sober process of sorting out the good from bad leaders, separating the wheat from the chaff, willy-nilly our bad leaders engage voters in a cacophony of media din, noises, television shows and useless writings to completely mislead them from good leaders and rally them behind the same bad leaders that have made this country hell and chained people to physical and mental slavery from which they cannot free themselves or be rescued by people who care and bleed for them.
Were Kenyans civilised and democratised, they would use elections to remove all bad leaders from power and replace them with good leaders. But now, masses are hypnotised and bewitched by their worst enemies. And as Jesus said, though they have eyes, poor people don't see their bad or good leaders.
Equally, though they have ears, they don't hear their bad leaders' plots against them or their good leaders beckoning them to their salvation. For the masses, elections are at best entertainment carnivals and at worst, ritualistic ethnic bloody orgies that give them masochistic satisfaction of bleeding or killing a fellow slave from another community.
To have good leaders, the late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania said during elections, people must ask themselves where they have come from, where they are and where they intend to go. As a flock of humans, Kenyans have come from colonial servitude, are currently stuck in a desert of poverty and are looking for greener pastures in industrial development.
Equally Kenyans are people who are burdened with a myriad of problems, from which they are looking for rescue. But what sort of good leaders do people should people elect to solve their problems?
First and foremost, Kenyans must have good leaders to replace bad leaders. Without the removal of bad leaders, Kenyans will remain in hell forever.
Secondly, whether they like it or not, Kenyans must have a system of social democracy to replace their current system that cannot solve the same problems it has created for them. It is insane to think our capitalism, whether cloaked as Vision 2030 or not, can liberate the same poor people it feeds on and has impoverished.
Thirdly, truly patriotic Kenyans must declare war against corruption or thievery of public resources that we have made our national creed.
Fourth, there will never be development whose first objective will not be to eradicate material and intellectual poverties of the people. Fifth, good leaders must ensure no Kenyans will starve for lack of food when there are huge tracks of individually owned lands that remain unfarmed.
Sixth, to reach the Promised Land of development, Kenyans must industrialise to enhance to development and wipe out unemployment of millions of young people.
But what sort of good leaders must we elect to solve these problems? First, they must be Kenyans who embrace leadership as a mission to save people and not a business for self-enrichment.
Second, like God-Ngai, The Great Giver, good leaders for Kenya must not be thieves but distributors of national resources equitably to all people and corners of the land.
Third, like Solomon, good leaders must seek wisdom to be the best possible judges of their people that will not discriminate, favor and oppress.
Fourth, a good leader must know problems of the people. A doctor cannot cure a disease he does not know.
Fifth, once a good leader is seized with the knowledge of people, he must move with speed to solve them.
Sixth, a good leader of Kenyans must seek to unite and never to divide or pit one community against another through negative ethnicity.
Finally, good leaders cannot and will not be elected on the basis of tribe or clan, ethnic or one man party, gender, age or purchase of leadership with money. The foundation of good leadership must be patriotism, progressive ideas, wisdom and commitment to equality. Should Kenyan voters carelessly elect leaders without careful thought and on the basis of wrong criteria, they will be more lost now than they have ever been, God forbid.
Koigi wa Wamwere. Leader of Chama cha Mwananchi.