20 December 2012

Kenya: Let Us Watch Our Language

ON Tuesday Uhuru Kenyatta apparently pulled out of his deal with Musalia Mudavadi to make him the Jubilee presidential candidate. Two weeks ago, Uhuru, Mudavadi and William Ruto signed the deal in the presence of their lawyers.

Uhuru apparently believed that a Mudavadi candidacy would be best for the country as his trial for crimes against humanity is due to start at The Hague on April 10.

The trial would prevent Uhuru from discharging his duties properly as president. In the following days, Uhuru changed his mind, under pressure from hardline Central Province MPs and others.

That was his prerogative. No deal is ever permanent in politics. What however was disturbing was Uhuru's choice of language when explaining why he had backed out of the deal.

He said he had been misled by "dark forces" and "Shetani". This was widely assumed to be a reference to State House and the NSIS. This apocalyptic language was very dangerous. It implied that those who encouraged Uhuru to make a deal with Mudavadi were evil and satanic.

Tensions will run high in the next three months. Yet democracy thrives on open disagreement and hard hitting criticism. If different points of view are stigmatised, we will all suffer.

Quote of the day: "Even when I'm sick and depressed, I love life." - Pianist Artur Rubinstein died on December 20, 1982

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