Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Courting Ambivalence in Politics and the Elections

There is simmering ambivalence among many Kenyans over the monkey business that was party nominations, the mayhem it sparked in various parts of the country evoking bitter memories of the 2007/08 post election violence, and the predictable political fallout that followed. Party nominations have always been a passage of great danger for politicians and political parties alike but with all the electoral reforms that have been enacted, Kenyans somehow expected party nominations to be conducted with utmost care and decorum; but that was not to be. The nominations were in words of one syllable shambolic. Certainly, logistical challenges were partly to blame and that is easy to fix but what was also clear and which is a matter of grave concern, was that politicians and their supporters flatly refused to give the nominations exercise the respect it deserves leading to the fracas that were witnessed in several parts of the country.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Why Sonko Could Win 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.