26 January 2013

Kenya: Why Sonko Will Win, At Least in Theory

The film 'Rebel Without a Cause' released in 1955 was a rude awakening to many American parents because it vividly brought them to terms with the reality of their disaffected urban youth who were resisting parental authority for no apparent reason despite coming from what were otherwise considered good well-to-do families.

Today, the disaffected urban youth phenomenon is global thanks to globalization and that all too familiar rural-urban migration. It is said that music is a universal language and the language of disaffected urban youth is gangsta rap.

Gangsta rap is a type of rap music, typically with words about violence, guns, drugs and sex. The lovers of gangsta rap who are mostly urban youth consider gangsters, hardened criminals, drug dealers, and their ilk as heroes. Heck! Many outside the U.S. even considered Osama bin Laden, the world's most infamous terrorist, a hero.

According to official statistics the youth constitute 70 per cent of the Kenyan population and the overwhelming majority of them live in urban areas throughout the country.

The Kenyan urban youth, just like their contemporaries around the world, are also a disenfranchised lot. They are disaffected by the debilitating lack of opportunities and they are disenchanted with the Establishment which they figure somehow is the greatest impediment to their upward mobility.

This is why change and reforms have remained the foremost election issues in every election cycle since 1992 after the successful struggle for multiparty democracy in Kenya.

Uncannily though, change and reforms have remained frustratingly elusive and it feels as though the democratic process simply isn't working or if it is, it is rigged and this, my friends, is the source of Mike Sonko's popularity.

Believe it or not, when Kenyans are asked which qualities they have highest regard for when selecting political leaders, the two qualities that spring to mind are God-fearing and development-minded. Somehow, Kenyans recognize that the ultimate goal of leadership is social progress and they also appreciate that high moral standards are an essential requirement for leadership that will deliver on development. There is simply no denying that there is an extricable link between values and progress.

I do not mean to defame a man whose questionable past is public knowledge and whose dealings has been the subject of a debate on the floor of the House, but despite being immensely popular especially among the urban youth in Nairobi, Sonko is a rascal and a rather dubious politician whose popularity is an exception rather than the rule.

The thing that has endeared him to the masses is his flagrant defiance of the Establishment which people feel is totally out of touch with the masses to say the least.

Sonko's tenure as Makadara MP has done nothing but make an out-and-out mockery of the political establishment both on the floor of the House and outside Parliament.

Depending on whom you ask, Sonko is a rebel without a cause but among the disaffected urban youth, Sonko is a hero. So what are his odds of making history and becoming Nairobi's first Senator you ask?

Well, actually, the odds are pretty much in his favour. For starters, the people of Nairobi like most all Kenyans are disenchanted with the Establishment and Sonko's candidature represents a protest vote against the Establishment.

The demographics of city dwellers are favourable to him in this case. Urban youth who form the bulk of those disaffected by the system make up 70 per cent of the population and they certainly seem very eager to making a statement that they want heard loud and clear.

Sonko is a charismatic young man who is so full of energy and his youthful appeal is simply unmatched. The youth can fully identify with him and given that the majority of voters anywhere in Nairobi and indeed across the country are the youth, Sonko can be rest assured of a win if he remains true to himself.

He simply cannot become the Establishment in his campaign; that would be disastrous. I don't however think that the fellow can reinvent himself, so I am not in the least worried about that.

It is obvious now that the general election which is just round the corner is a two horse race pitting the Cord coalition against the Jubilee coalition.

The Cord coalition on its part has nominated the lackadaisical Elizabeth Ongoro as its senatorial candidate. It is a free country, but with the benefit of hindsight, I think that Bishop Margret Wanjiru should have gone for the senatorial seat.

I think she would have been a formidable opponent to Mike Sonko. I think it was tactical error on the part of the good bishop and the Cord coalition and they might be punished severely for it.

That aside, I am of the opinion that in Nairobi County, the Cord coalition is considerably stronger than the Jubilee coalition and that gives the Cord nominee a head start over her competition.

Be that as it may, Sonko's appeal cuts across the political divide effectively undermining the Cord coalition's upper hand in Nairobi County and given that it has a weak candidate, I will not be surprised if Sonko trounces her roundly come March 4th.

The Nairobi senatorial race is therefore a contest between what people really want and the opposing demand of party loyalty in which case, Sonko wins all things considered.

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