The 2017 election was never about losing and winning. However, I have been on the losing end for the last five elections I have participated in. Well, this doesn’t mean I have vied for a political post, because truth be told, I don’t have what it takes to do so. All I can do is go out, cast my vote and hope to see the candidate I voted for win. Should he fail to win, then I expect the exercise to be straightforward, transparent and without human interference.
If after reading that you have rushed to check the author of this post, then chances are, you may end up not getting anything out this post or whatever will become of the 2017 election. Let me save you the trouble of not rushing back to the title by mentioning that my name is James Ouma and I am very disappointed, not because I am losing but because the way I am losing isn’t straightforward, transparent and without human interference.
Why the 2017 election is going to define my part as a patriotic Kenyan
According to an African proverb, it takes a whole village to raise up a child. Every woman I have had the privilege of meeting and knowing has proved this right – from Mombasa, Machakos, Kirinyaga, Sagana, Samburu and Elgeyo Marakwet – have referred to me as their son until the following things happened:-
- showing interest and wanting to marry their daughter
- the election period set in
Isn’t it strange that we don’t have a problem walking side by side; going to church, shopping in the same malls and attending the same worship services. We find something common to laugh at when a couple gets married at a budget of 100 bob, a young woman photo-shops herself to stardom and fame, a young man becomes a multi-millionaire from sports betting and our athlete wins a gold medal in world event. We collectively own the whole country even if we do so through a Safaricom MPesa advert. Yet all these things fizzle out the moment the five-cycle completes and another election dawns on us.
Having voted and lost five times during the five times I have voted you would expect me to swallow my painful disappointment, pray for the outcome and move on. That is not going to happen. For you see every time I have lost in the last 20 years, the lack of proper closure to the process has ended up taking away a vital part of my mind, body and soul.
If I simply accept defeat and move on, I am afraid I might lose my sanity. That is why the 2017 election is going to define my part as a patriotic Kenyan going forward. My voting and losing all begun when Anyang’ Nyong’o went against the grain to stand behind Charity Ngilu in 1997. Even though the Social Democratic Party was a tiny party and Nyong’o had ‘betrayed‘* Raila by supporting Charity Ngilu, I chose to vote for her based on her track record as a Health Minister during Moi’s reign.
Back in 1997, unemployment was high, crime was plaguing Kenya’s big cities, roads were crumbling while schools and hospitals lacked basic supplies. Her vision as a future president also focused on reconciliation, reconstruction, restructuring and sustenance. Ngilu’s promise to deal with most of these problems appealed to me as young man who was dreaming of becoming a creative writer.
“It’s worthwhile simply because somebody has to do it,” Charity Ngilu said when her credentials were questioned back in 1997. “I cannot sit back and watch and wait and say, ‘Who can do this?‘ I must do this. I am qualified because I am what Kenyans are looking for–a committed, dedicated, honest person who can lead them through the problems they have.”
She was right about the kind of president I have been voting for for the last 20 years. The only thing she didn’t know is that a majority of Kenyans don’t care about electing a committed, dedicated and honest person as a leader. All we care about is whether or not the leader is our own. And until Kenyans will stop looking at a leader as their own and vote based on the character and integrity of a leader greed, corruption and negative ethnicity will continue following us – even to our deathbeds and grave.
Ironically, Kenya is still waiting for the ideal president who will usher us into the promised land where workers are paid the right wages, our children enjoy quality education, hospitals are working and the government provides services that improve the lives of every Kenyan. Much as some of us have won and lost, we are still grappling with the same common issues that affect all of us regardless of who we did or didn’t vote for.
The next politician we have voted for during the 2017 election will drive in a large convoy that is protected and giving VIP preference due to its sirens and security detail while the matatus and private cars we own will drive off the narrow pot-holed roads to give way. They won’t treat us differently based on whether or not we voted for them. We will all shop and buy stuff where the price tags will be the same regardless of what we did during the election.
In every contest, there is bound to be a winner and loser. The same applies to the 2017 elections. However, losing and winning has to happen on a level ground devoid of greed, corruption and human interference. As a Christian-dominated country, we are not supposed to take sides, especially when electron malpractices stand out as the githeri man.
Our duty is to question and demand for transparency regardless of who is bound to win or lose. My personal duty as a Kenyan Christian is to make sure I am honest, fair and just in every dealing I am involved in starting, but not limited to, voting during the general elections. I am also supposed to point out malpractices, dishonesty and deal with it. It is only when I have done these things that I can pray for an outcome that pleases God.
I cannot just pray if I haven’t voted, been honest, fair and just. I cannot celebrate my wins if those who have lost are crying foul. Doing so would be operating in the highest order of hypocrisy. Asking me also to accept defeat and move on, because my candidate has the tendency to not concede defeat doesn’t address the corruption, greed, dishonesty and malpractices that needs to be dealt with for the good of our present and future generations to come.
Absolute freedom from being held at ransom
The truth of the matter is, we are all corrupt, greedy, dishonest and selfish. That is why we vote for the individuals whose character and conduct mirrors what we are, deep inside. As an individual, I acquired some characteristics and stored them in my system. By becoming a Born-Again-Christian, the Holy Spirit has gradually been cleaning the system.
Because I have reached a point where I want to be the salt and light of the world, I want to operate differently. I want to be proud of being Kenyan as opposed to being a tolerant one who accepts and stomachs garbage thrown my way without a fight. Doing so calls for transparency, honesty and allowing the a straightforward system to receive and store data without human interference.
Besides, having heard numerous prophesies of who was going to win the 2017 elections, what more do I have to fear when I already know the will of God is going to prevail? By the way, does God really need my help to accomplish His divine will? What will happen when I lose and the other part of the Body of Christ wins cleanly? What will happen when the Church demands for honesty, fairness and justice instead of asking me to pray and move on?
I’ll tell you what will happen. There will be genuine peace, joy and love and I will not have to walk in pretense. I will treat others with respect, honor and dignity. Isn’t that what all humanity needs from each other? Wait a minute, am I asking for too much my brothers and sisters?
Since Tuesday, nothing has been normal until Vimal Shah made a frantic call for normal business to resume. You may say business people have a lot to lose. But what do we stand to gain as silent Christians whose only contribution is a call to moving on and praying for God’s will when our human interference clouds our vision of Who God really is?
There was no githeri, mboga, tomatoes and onions on sale. There were very few MPesa agents and no work going on since Tuesday. I also doubt if there were midweek church services going on during this short stalemate. I also know there are many Christians who flocked the supermarkets in a bid to stock up for the unknown despite being the same people who preach the it is going to be well with Kenya gospel!
Now let us consider the world our political leaders inhabit. Do they need the services of a neighbourhood shopkeeper, an MPesa agent, Mama Mboga, borrowing salt or a gas cooker at night from a neighhbour. Do they need the services of a matatu driver and conductor? Did they stop earning an income because their bosses had closed shop and there were no daily wages and commissions earned?
Who then, is losing and winning?