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Five habits we should leave behind in the new year

Wednesday December 27 2017

Larry Madowo

Kenya can barely handle one presidential election cycle every five years without breaking at the seams but the two polls almost tore the country apart. FILE PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

LARRY MADOWO
By LARRY MADOWO
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I like to do listicles at the end of every year because I’m usually on vacation and far too lazy to string together a coherent column worthy of a newspaper this distinguished.

That, and because I have tried to fashion this page along the lines of a blog and what would the graffiti of the Internet be without a good list of things you already know?

Right out the gate, we can all agree that 2017 was one of the most extraordinary years in recent history.

For millennials, this is the one you will tell your grandchildren about with a dash of hyperbole, washed down with copious amounts of your favourite beverage.

As we close the year, there are bad habits we shouldn’t take into the new year.

  •  Hyperpartisanship

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Kenya can barely handle one presidential election cycle every five years without breaking at the seams but the two polls almost tore the country apart.

Facts did not matter this year if they did not support your bias. Jubilee supporters only believed what reinforced their beliefs, and Nasa supporters the same.

Convenient lies were readily accepted over inconvenient truths just because people were trying to win a political match or vanquish their opponents.

On social media, supporters of different political sides followed only those they agreed with and viciously attacked anyone whose posts they did not like, regardless of their accuracy.

This  is the year “honourable” members disrupted a press conference by an opposing party because of a joke over who was paying for their tea.

  • Fake news

When people see the world through their carefully constructed filter bubbles, it is easy to deceive them because their guards are down when they are receiving information they think supports their point of view.

That is why fake news blew up on Africa’s biggest social media network — Whatsapp — and everywhere else. That claim that CNN pulled down an interview with Deputy President William Ruto?

It didn’t happen but you probably believed it because you are pro-Nasa and are naturally inclined to believe negative news about Jubilee.

The BBC story about President Kenyatta surging in the polls despite having skipped the presidential debate? That didn’t happen either and it was totally made up by some fake news merchants but you fell for it because you support Jubilee and you automatically trust anything that paints Nasa in bad light.

  • Criminally low standards

I posted pictures of a speed train I took between Barcelona and Girona when I went to watch Michael Olunga’s team take on Getafe. Many Kenyans quickly dismissed it as out of reach for us as a third world country and asked me to be proud of the Standard Gauge Railway.

“Why are you always negative?” some wanted to know because world-class expectations are beyond us, as Kenyans.

When exactly we became a society that is plagued by low standards and satisfied with minimal effort I don’t know but this should not be acceptable. Almost every aspect of Kenyan life suffers from poor attitude, horrendous service, outright theft and every vice imaginable yet we are not mad enough to demand better. I will not raise my children in that culture and I will certainly not willingly participate in the dumbing down of our people that they are comfortable with just anything.

  • Contested elections

A wise man called David Maraga once said that “An election is not an event; it is a process from the beginning to the end” and in that sentence he captured the challenge of electoral justice in Kenya.

The end cannot justify the means because the process must not only be fair, it must be seen to be fair. Every general election cycle I have covered since I started practising as a journalist in Kenya has been contested.

Once or twice might have been a fluke but four times is one too many to be a coincidence.

You might not like Raila Odinga or his Nasa crowd, but if you’re honest you must admit that there were issues with the elections as conducted this year.

May this be the last time that the country is held to ransom for months on end because we have a body, or a system, that won’t allow credible elections to be held.

  • Everyday misogyny

One of the worst insults for a Kenyan man is to be told “uko na umama (you have womanliness)” because women are somehow subhuman beings that we are to be ashamed of.

There is blatant misogyny everywhere you look, which is especially tragic because Kenya is already a deeply patriarchal society. People think it is alright to worry that the “boy child” is under attack because a few girls make it to the top of the national exams or some feminists stand up for what should be common sense.

Let us not take this hatred or contempt for women into 2018 because it belongs in the Dark Ages.

If you’re getting your “manly” orders from a disgraced blogger, maybe that should be the obvious sign that you’re misguided and on the wrong side of history. If you don’t think so, maybe you two deserve each other.

Happy New Year!

 

Is he right? Send your comments to Larry Madowo at [email protected]

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