What is the distinguishing factor for local parties?

Sunday January 10 2016

Cord leader Raila Odinga addresses members of

Cord leader Raila Odinga addresses members of the public in Eldoret Town on December 5, 2015. Kenyan General Election will take place in 2017 but, going by what is happening, one might think it will take place this year. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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When one takes into account the not-so-long history of our political development, one would have to accept that we indeed have come a long way in terms of the growth of our democratic space.

When we tell our students that, not so long ago, we could not have said some of the things we say openly, they do not believe us.

They think that things have always been this way.

They think it has always been normal and natural for anyone to say anything about the President or the government without getting into trouble.

This progress had better be properly and objectively documented so that younger generations are able to understand themselves and the environment they are growing up in.

But, even as we document this history, it is also imperative that we realise that we are continually in the process of making history.

We must also have the courage to face ourselves and sincerely question ourselves as to what kind of history we are creating.

Is it a history that focuses only on sustaining certain classes of society or is it a history that is driven by the desire to develop and improve the life of every Kenyan wherever they are?

The Kenyan General Election will take place next year but, going by what is happening, one might think it will take place this year.

There are those in government who obviously would want to defend their positions and stay in power.

Then there are those outside who most certainly would want to replace the incumbent group. I wonder what makes these two groups any different.

Americans will hold their presidential elections at the end of this year so, at the moment, they are busy doing their primaries.

In the not-too-distant future, we will know who the standard-bearers for both the Republicans and the Democrats will be.

Regardless of whoever it is going to be, the election will be a contest that is not just about two opposing individuals but one that is between two distinct philosophies.

Republicans believe in individual initiative and a “you’re-on-your-own” society.

Democrats, on the other hand, believe in a philosophy of inclusiveness and that everyone deserves a chance.

Of course there must be many other differences between these two major American parties but the point here is that they are clearly distinct.

Democrats are particularly strong on social security and the same cannot be said about Republicans. My big question is: What distinguishes the opposing sides of our political class? What debates inform their ambitions to lead us?

Fr Wamugunda is dean of students, University of Nairobi; [email protected]