Shame on all those 3.7 million Kenyan adults who managed to find a good reason not to register to vote. But even more shocking will be the shame visited on our conscience by those of the 4.6 million Kenyans who having registered, will find a convenient reason not to vote. To those who do not register to vote, and those who will not vote, I remind you of what the Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga said in the run up to the glorious 2002 elections which saw KANU’s poor governance, leadership, and management of our resources ended: “ people get the leaders they deserve.’
Of course, those who think we do not get the leaders we deserve are already planning to vote in March 2013. And those not planning to vote are living dangerously, and as the Kikuyu remind us in their proverb, “If you treat yourself like a dog, people will treat you like a dog.” People who do not vote are treating themselves with spite and lack of significance, by not stating their case the management of their natural resources, and their affairs: they are leaving others to master them.
Kenyans are getting a rude shock, on a continuous basis, on the management of our resources and the control over our lives. We now know, but are unwilling to accept, that there are estates in Kenya where blacks, that is, Kenyans, are not allowed to stay, because they are Indian only residential zones, as indeed are others which are coming up as race based, instead of a living where you can afford policy that does not discriminate on the basis of race. We are also selling chunks of land to foreigners, instead of leasing our natural resource, leading to a future where we will be landless in our country.
Our education system needs to be changed, to focus more on meeting the child where he is strong naturally, rather than focusing on transforming everyone to an academic, which is as impractical as it is yielding no positive results. All this will need a leader to change, for as the Luo say, “rech tow gi wiye”: The fish rots from the head. And the head is the leadership.
John C. Maxwell, commenting on the underdevelopment in Africa once noted that, “Africans suffer (disease, poverty, ignorance), because their leaders do not love them.” Without doubt, I agree with him, everything rises, and falls, on the leader. But the leaders do not come from God, or Heaven. We either elect them, or let them be after they force themselves into power through coup de tats, rigging elections, revolutions, and/or installation by foreign powers. Obviously, God has no role with our present situation. We do.
The Holy Bible says, “God will bless the work of our hands,” meaning we must first work. In agreement, the Holy Quran agrees, ‘Allah does not change the condition of a people, until they themselves change what is inside them.’
It was Martin Luther King, the great Black civil rights advocate during the civil rights movement in the 1960s in the United States who said that, ‘bad things happen when good people sit by, and do, NOTHING.” The only thing which we can all do, however rich or poor, is to vote.
Silence means consent. Those of us who have arranged sexy reasons not to vote ought to know that decisions are made by those who show up.
By Pascal Ojijo
The author [email protected] is a writer, public speaker, consultant (investment and law), social entrepreneur and poet.