“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter!” Winston Churchill
My country disenfranchised me; denied me the most fundamental right only surpassed by the absolute right to life.
My country decided that I will not determine who may rule over me, that I may not choose which of the competing political platforms most closely reflects my personal aspirations. For the crime of seeking a livelihood outside our national borders, my compatriots decided that I am not fit to choose the nation’s leadership – that I had committed an act so treacherous that I had to be denied the right that most intimately defines my allegiance to the Kenyan nation-state. For being away from home, my country has brutally defiled and violated my status as a citizen of the Republic of Kenya!
My country decided that I will not vote in the most critical elections since we attained statehood.
This grievous injury inflicted upon me made me realise my powerlessness – and that of my fellow citizens. It made me realise that though we have a new constitution that grants to us numerous rights and responsibilities, a constitution that creates numerous checks and balances, that provides a breath-taking glimpse of the great people we potentially can be, that Constitution is merely written on paper and not in our hearts!
My disenfranchisement impressed upon me that the Constitution is merely a beautiful wrapping for a worthless gift! My government continues to defy court orders, my Parliament continues to act with impunity in complete disregard of the will of the people, civil servants continue to render no service with their characteristic incivility, and we the people continue to be the brutalised sandwich meat between the criminals and the security forces! Most disheartening of all, we the people accept all this with imbecilic equanimity; anaesthetised into compliant communal stupidity by the retarded ethnic rantings and ravings of the political elite.
My disenfranchisement has emasculated me as a citizen, reduced me to a mere observer – made me an armchair mwananchi! I do not have a scythe with which to sweep away the malignant weeds that are our political class – in fact, even the most crooked candidate for political office would not waste ‘kitu kidogo’ on me, because I have nothing to sell! I am truly worthless in the political process, and that is saying a whole lot when the lowliest of the low find you worthless!
But amidst my misery, I have had opportunity to wonder – is the vote-holding Kenya-resident fellow citizen really of any greater value? Aren’t they just as worthless, by dint of their ethnic myopia, short memories, and complete lack of principle? Doesn’t their wilful ignorance of their citizen-power and their ingrained cowardice make them just as useless at this time when the nation is crying out for informed citizens full of courage?
I have been appalled by registered voters that declare “ours is ours, however defective’ to justify their support for some crude, crass proto-human that is seeking high office. I have been shocked by registered voters who declare ‘so-and-so is the best candidate, but I cannot waste my vote on them because they cannot win’. I have read in utter amazement declarations by seemingly educated citizens that say ‘I shall vote for so-and-so to prove that Kenya is sovereign – though I do not really like them’. I have been equally taken aback by registered voters who passionately support ‘reformers’ who have been part of the status quo for decades; ‘youthful leaders’ that are deep into their forties, fifties, sixties and even seventies; and ‘performers’ with no track record of great entrepreneurial achievement, thrift in the use of public resources, or mobilisation of the people for a cause other than their personal political survival. I have witnessed opinion polls that reduce the most qualified leaders into mere ‘fringe candidates’ and pitiable ‘also rans’. And I have wept for my beloved country.
It may be just sour grapes, sophistry, delusional rationalisation or all three – but again and again I have wondered whether my disenfranchisement is such a great tragedy after all, seeing that a great majority of my fellow citizens that carry the vote will in all likelihood be committing unspeakable crimes against each other over the next seven weeks and possibly longer; seeing that the registered voters will use their vote to sink the nation deeper into ruin and misery rather than save it!