The recent political developments in the country have been full of bizarre theatrics. Since Kenya’s main opposition coalition;CORD started viciously pushing for a national dialogue, the Kenyan political scene has been awash with heated and seemingly dangerous political rhetoric. Apparently, nothing has raised the political tensions in the country more than the planned “SabaSaba” rally that is scheduled to take place at Uhuru Park on July seventh.
The rally is supposed to be akin to the one that took place at the height of the clamour for multi-party democracy in Kenya, during the KANU dictatorship, in the early 1990s. It is remembered to have been brutally dispersed by the police and as a result some people lost their lives while scores got seriously injured.
While this year’s “SabaSaba” rally may not have a clear cut agenda like the former, the opposition has raised pertinent issues like rampant insecurity, grand corruption and lopsided appointments in government, that need to be addressed urgently and this seems to have hit the soft underbelly of the government which has miserably failed in these areas hence handing the opposition a big club to hit it with and paint a picture of dysfunctional government. This has evidently put the authorities on red alert.
Politicians and local vernacular radio stations have not made things any easier by propagating the notion that the rally is likely to be chaotic and violent and that some specific tribes in the country are targeted for ethnic cleansing. This has created a frightening siege mentality in some parts of the country, especially those regions whose sons are in power.
We heard the same thing when the inspector general of police cancelled a welcome rally, in the same venue, organised by the opposition to welcome Raila Odinga who was coming back from the USA, citing security threats. But he was later forced to retract his stance and the rally went on to be one of the most peaceful political rallies in recent times. My take is, if the noise generated around the rally, especially from some quarters of government and religious groups was avoided, then the rally couldn’t have gained the prominence that it enjoys now. It would in fact go on without much ado and people will go on with their daily businesses as usual.
Perhaps what has made the “Sabasaba” rally look like a very serious issue is the vehemence with which religious bodies have come out up in arms against it. It is amazing how all religions including traditional spiritual leaders have come together in a rare show of unity to speak against sabasaba! But instead of attaining their well intended aim of diffusing political tensions in the country, they have only succeeded to raise them even further. I am told some people have started migrating upcountry for fear of what might happen after tomorrow and some parents will not be sending their children to school while several people won’t be opening their businesses.
To complete the picture of the cloud of fear that has engulfed the nation, the police have mapped out what they call ” hot spots”, whatever that means. Worse still, there have been accusations and counter-accusations with the ministry of interior PS accusing CORD of planning to stage-manage chaos and blame it on the police while CORD has accused the govt of planning to cause unrest and blame CORD for it. There is even a rumour doing the rounds that some people who think they will be targeted by Sabasaba chaos have been buying and sharpening machetes in readiness to defend themselves.
On Friday the country was treated to a bizarre traditional cleansing ceremony performed by elders (or were they medicine men?) In Uhuru Park, whereby seven traditional gourds were dramatically broken in full view of Tv cameras. This has never been witnessed in the country before. What raised most people’s eyebrows is that the elders came from only one specific region of the country.
One day after the traditional ceremony, religious leaders from all major and minor religions in the country, including traditional spiritual leaders convened a prayer meeting in Uhuru park to pray for the country. It is at this point that I am prompted to pose my question. are we a playing or praying country? The recent frenzy of activities have only succeeded in one thing. Unwittingly heightening the political tensions in the country.
The different religions that met for prayers obviously pray to different supreme beings. As the Christians called on Yahweh, the Muslims cried to Allah to salvage this country while the Hindus might have pleaded with Hare Krishna and other gods to have mercy on poor us. The Maasai spiritual leaders might have called upon the Enkai while the Agikuyu elders, who performed the cleansing rituals on Friday, must have invoked the name of Ngai the god of Gikuyu na Mumbi, while facing Mt. Kirinyaga. At the end of the day when the prayers are answered, who can we say answered them? But this is not my main bone of contention with the kenyan religious leaders. I am only trying to picture a situation where all these gods are sharing a lunch table with God while discussing what to do with Kenya’s self inflicted situation.
The religious leaders must accept to shoulder a big share of blame for the sorry state that we find ourselves in as a nation. It is absolutely pretentious of these leaders to come out strongly only when the political temperatures are about to explode! These fire fighting tactics will not hoodwink anybody when they have failed over and over to raise their voices and address the real causes of the fire. It is an open secret that since KANU was bundled out of power, the clergy have chosen to remain “politically correct” always striving to please the government of the day. Everybody knows that all the political noise that we are experiencing today is as a result of runaway tribalism, corruption and open bias in senior appointments that have become so shamelessly rampant in government today.
Perhaps the reason why the clergy have failed to raise even one finger against these cancers in government might be because of the proverbial log in their eyes. They don’t have the moral authority to remove the speck from the eye of the government when the cancer of tribalism and corruption is deep seated in their midst in places of worship.
As a country, I think It is high time we stopped pretending and urgently addressed these cancers that are steadily destroying the fabric that holds the country together. Maybe the best point to start at is by implementing the TJRC report and holding a serious National dialogue. Otherwise we might pray all day, perform all the traditional cleansing ceremonies that we know of, sing that “we are one” from dawn till sunset, after which we will then still jump on each other’s neck.