Polite warning: If you are one of those people who still hold that democracy is the best system of government ever invented, you’ll probably find this blog a little offensive.
Well, like you I find the idea of a government of the people, by the people and for the people quite cool.
I have also learnt to live fairly well with the fact that in practice, good old democracy is chaotic and has too many pitfalls.
What I can’t bring myself to love particularly about Kenyan democracy is the fact that it tends to throw up on us all manner of bad things that plague society – including greedy and arrogant leaders who won’t pay tax until they raise their own pay.
And, worst of all, democracy has perpetuated a tyranny of the villagers.
Nothing illustrates the tyranny of the villagers better than the re-election of one Ali Chirau Mwakwere as Matuga MP in the Monday by-election.
Widely believed to be an infamous flop as Transport minister (from radio call-ins, newspaper reports and public rebuke by the Prime Minister) by the time a petition court nullified his election, Mwakwere went into this by-election almost a political outcast.
For much of the four months in the cold, he cut a lonely figure, shunned by his former colleagues in Cabinet and Parliament.
A handful of PNU party people only trooped to Mwakwere’s campaign in the later stages after it became apparent that the Matuga villagers were dancing to his tune.
So how did Mwakwere the political outcast overturn his fortunes to Mwakwere the hot property in just four months?
It is because of one of those pitfalls of democracy: the majority have their way, and the villagers happen to be the majority voters in Kenya.
Democracy has put too much power in the hands of a privileged class of villagers to decide who rules us.
The problem is that the villager often tends to use this power with disastrous consequences.
Over a century of formal education has certainly enlightened the village.
But the ordinary villager will still cast their ballot for their tribesman, kinsman, or clansman.
With widespread poverty in rural Kenya, the school of life has also taught the man or woman in the village that it sometimes makes sense to vote with one’s stomach.
The curse of Kenyan politics, however, is that we are a nation of villagers.
Even the folks in the towns and cities are only glorified villagers, who will take the slightest opportunity to vote for their tribesmen, kinsmen or clansmen.
Not that I’m begrudging Mwakwere his success in a hard-fought election.
This man is simply an honest politician who played by the rules of the game in the village, and won.