Capital FM (Nairobi)

7 February 2013

Kenya: Presidential Debates Timely As March Poll Nears

column

The Kenyan elections of 2013 will go down in history as having been a turning point for our nation's politics.

While the memory of yester years remains fresh in our minds, we are determined not to repeat the same mistakes. We want to show the world that we can be trusted with our own democracy once more.

For this reason, we are witnessing a revolution of sorts; where people have taken power into their own hands. We now understand that no one else will make the difference we seek, unless we do it ourselves. I am certainly impressed with the uprising at the grassroots level; where people are no longer willing to be dictated to whom to elect, but desire to make their own choices. This revolution is a game changer and certainly a reflection that we are a step closer to achieving true democracy.

Similarly, the Kenyan media has undertaken to play a more proactive and educative role in the upcoming elections to avoid a repeat of the 2007 post-election violence. For the first time in Kenya, we will be facilitating a live presidential debate where the aspirants open themselves up to be interrogated on their stand on key issues.

The majority of Kenyans have in the past voted in the president because of his affiliation, interests and endorsements. For example, you may have chosen a leader because they belong to your tribe, region, or because your religious leaders endorsed them, or because your friends said so etc. This practice has promoted the use of negative tags and divided the country along volatile ethnic, religious and regional lines.

What we are saying, is that our choices can no longer continue to be made solely on those grounds. We can no longer continue to engage our future leaders on the basis of fear, just because they are different from whom we are. Whereas we're cognizant of the fact that your environment will continue to play a role in your decision-making, we also want you to aspire to something more.

Let us not look at the candidates and judge them on the basis of their tribe, age, or by the way they speak, or by their failures/accomplishments exclusively. Let us take all factors into consideration and interrogate them for who they are and what they stand for from a non-judgmental frame of mind.

What I would like to urge Kenyans to do, is to become even more involved in this process.

For the majority of Kenyans, this will most likely be the first time that you make this important decision for yourselves. The presidential debate is putting the thinking cap back in your head, and asking you to listen, question and then act.

But before we get to that date, you must first obtain clarity in your own mind. Whom and what do you seek? Ask yourself these key questions: What are the things that you value most; what are the issues that you can compromise on; which are the stands that are absolutely non-negotiable for you?

Once you have determined what you desire for yourself and for the future of your children, you then have a basis or backdrop upon which you can judge the presidential aspirants.

Remember to set your expectations right. If a candidate cannot answer a question that matters to you satisfactorily, read between the lines - do not try to squeeze them into your box. Call a spade like it is; perhaps they are not whom you thought they were.

In the meantime, we are asking you to become engaged in the process. Discuss amongst yourselves what you would like addressed, and submit these views to info@presidentialdebate.co.ke, SMS 2282 or engage on Twitter and Facebook.

Please make a date with the media as we broadcast the debate live on all TV and radio stations on February 11 at 7 pm local time. At Capital FM, we want you - including those in the Diaspora - to also have the opportunity to be witness this milestone and will be streaming the event live at www.presidentialdebate.co.ke. Join us as we shape the future of our beloved nation.

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