By George Kimando
We are in that season, yet again, when all good sense seems to have been thrown out of the national window; when even the most sober of us seem to get an excuse to misbehave and later mitigate on the basis of temporary insanity.
How else would you explain usually intelligent people who have been friends for years suddenly becoming enemies over an election? Or even couples separating over the same basis? It has happened in our times.
People i know have lost good friends made since childhood, through school, college and working life because of different political stands. And this for candidates they only see on television or read about only in the media!
For those who were consciously around in 2007, you may remember the madness that gripped our country, sharply dividing us right through our families, Churches, socio-economic groups, work places and literary down every fabric we previously thought cohesive about our nationhood. It was a sad and dark moment of our history.
Interestingly, majority of the people in that insane cacophony were – and still are – professed believers, especially Christians. Churches took hard line stances supporting one political camp against another, with respected religious leaders openly taking sides. The shame and ignominy have never found definition of such!
I remember a Church choir i belonged to then whose members could not see eye to eye based on which political wing either belonged; yet partook of the Holy Eucharist religiously. What a contradiction!
Are we any different today? Look around you.
The kind of insults you find, especially on social media platforms, pitting supporters of different political stand points is, to say the least, worrying.
Do we ever learn?
The mainstream Churches, to give them credit, have tried to reign in politics from their pulpits. I can’t vouch for what individual religious leaders do away from the public glare. Am not sure i can say the same of the evangelicals, largely driven by individuals and with no particular collective responsibility.
This is the wakeup call we must make on one another. That’s why i use this platform today to beseech each one of us to choose sobriety over political drunkardness and illicit indulgence.
We must remind one another that elections happen for only a season. Whoever wins goes to that high political office alone, largely benefitting only their own families or very close associates. Our lives continue like before, perhaps only affected by the decisions of those we elect, whether good or bad.
You and i are left alone – again! – in the endless complaints about the shenanigans of the same leaders we elected.
We must not go back to the electoral violence that we witness every other five years. Our ethnic diversity must not be used to divide us again. We must refuse leaders who fan tribal tensions and animosity to gain politically.
You must be a special breed of stupid to be made to hate on neighbours and friends you have lived with for ages to satisfy political ends on the basis of political differences. These are the people who show up in your distress. Your children play together. You attend weddings and social events together – and are generally there for one another – because you are neighbours and friends.
Contrary to what some people would like us to believe, we are not inherently tribal, atleast not negatively.
Did you know that over 40% of marriages in urban and peri-urban areas in Kenya, as well as in cosmopolitan counties today, are inter ethnic? What deeper demonstration would one need to exemplify the fact that we are NOT negatively wired ethnically?
Actually, many loud mouthed politicians encouraging ethnic balkanization have spouses from the same communities they castigate and demonize! Remember that song a while back that went on something like ‘wajinga ni sisi’? Now you know.
Whatever happens, Kenya and Kenyans must be the winners. Respect each other’s choice, even if you are a couple. After all, you get to vote in the privacy of that booth, alone. There’s absolutely no reason to create acrimony and disharmony on account of an election.
Remember you’ll still be neighbours and friends after August 9th 2022. Wajinga tusikuwe sisi, sawa?
And if you are a believer like me, let the sobriety of your believership and discipleship be seen in word and deed.
Have a politically sober Sunday, a great week ahead, and even greater political sobriety before and after the coming elections.