End tyranny and call for more representation

What you need to know:

  • Any politically minded individual could take a lesson from this story of anarchy, tyranny and revolution to think about positive political activism in their country.

While things are fairly chaotic in Kenya right now, they are really raging elsewhere in Africa. Like most places in the world, our coronavirus numbers are still growing. But the government has been publishing clear guidelines and regulations as to what actions should be taken by citizens to limit the spread as much as possible.

Ultimately, if we are to emerge from this global pandemic stronger, more unified, and ready for whatever next challenge the world brings, we all need to be working together, hand in hand with one another and with our government, to achieve it.

In the popular graphic novel series - and later movie - V for Vendetta, the writer Alan Moore writes that “People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

In V for Vendetta, we watch as a political dystopia unfolds into anarchy and revolution against the government. Many political groups use it as an allegory of government oppression.

Any politically minded individual could take a lesson from this story of anarchy, tyranny and revolution to think about positive political activism in their country.

In Kenya, for example, we could do with some reforms ourselves. For too long, the system has allowed those at the top to get even more powerful at the expense of the people on bottom. Some groups have gotten more representation than others in parliament, while a few tribes have held more power throughout our nation’s history than others.

It is time for reform. And this is exactly the opportunity offered us by the BBI. The Building Bridges Initiative is a solution to a longstanding problem deep within Kenyan society. For decades we have treated each other with distrust, even animosity.

We have refused to forgive and we have held onto the scars of our parents and grandparents. We have looked out only for our own interests. But the younger generations, the youthful people of Kenya, are sick of it. The elderly are ready to pass on the baton, and the younger folk want to forge a better future for themselves and the children that they will be having in the coming years.

It is what we owe them and it is what they deserve. After years of hatred and ethnic clashes, President Kenyatta decided to simply put the past behind him and usher in a new era of peace and understanding with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

It seems simple, doesn’t it? But the symbolism goes much deeper. Then after almost two years of research, the BBI task force compiled what they had learned from interviewing people around Kenya from all walks of life.

And the findings were mostly what you would expect. People are keenly aware that not everything is peachy in contemporary Kenya. With or without Covid-19, we need to come up with solutions that will enable us to grow and flourish, rather than revert to poverty and unhappiness.

And one important lesson that we can take for the V for Vendetta parable is that the government should fear the people, and not the other way around. It seems that while most Kenyan politicians have failed to grasp this concept so far, the president himself does.

Part of ensuring that our democracy is fair and effective is making sure that ordinary people have a say in what goes on with quotidian government affairs. One of the main aspects of this is increasing representation in Parliament of under-represented groups and making sure that the system is fair for everybody.

Along those lines, the BBI proposes that we increase female representation and make sure that representation is according to population. For example, one of the suggestions is that counties with larger populations are allocated an equivalent number of Members of Parliament.

But for the very small counties, they will still have at least three representatives, to make sure there is diversity of opinion.

And as for female representation - how could we possibly expect for a country to thrive when half of it is oppressed, and half of it is not having its voice heard?

We are one of Africa’s most progressive countries, and it is time we walk the walk rather than just talking the talk. The first step is to get behind the BBI.

Mr Leo is a public policy analyst. [email protected]