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No-one’s taking us to Caanan, really

Monday October 16 2017

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I have one more post to write before the elections and I wonder if it is even possible that I will have anything to write about other than the elections.

There is really almost nothing else that people are talking about. Even in the middle of condemning alleged racist attacks at supermarkets and closing or merging of others. Even in the midst of NTSA giving out rather confusing rules about stickers.

Even when we consider that all of a sudden Kenyans have even more to pay for in terms of new passports, stickers, drivers' licenses; even with that, underneath it all, runs the tense undercurrent of elections.

We're in a pretty scary place as a nation, a conflicting place, for several reasons. On one hand, it is an extremely exciting thing to be alive in the first African country to have ever annulled elections. It was even more exciting because it was completely unexpected.

Because let's be honest – pretty much no one except Raila Odinga and James Orengo were expecting that judgement to go any differently. I had even forgotten that the ruling was to be announced that day and done the typical Kenyan thing – I had accepted and moved on, much like everyone around me.

But by some alert angel of serendipity, I switched on the television right as Justice Maraga passed his verdict and that of the bench and something rose in my heart. Something that felt like hope.

There is a lot to be said for how the bench handled this historic ruling. A lot could be added on in terms of guidance and recommendations, which are the problems we are seeing now. But that it happened, for me, signified something working in the larger scheme of things.

Then in a very short time after, all hope was dashed. For me at this point, Kenya is beginning to feel a lot like America – not in terms, perhaps, of national natural disasters and an abusive Klan president, but more in terms of something deeply disheartening happening every day that defeats citizens. Every day.

First it was a video of little children tear gassed in a primary school in Kisumu. Children crying, as they ran to their teachers for protection from fumes they didn't understand the reason for. Were they protesting?


Then it was the heart-breaking clips of university students sitting in class and being attacked by violent police. Then a complete denial by the man in charge of those police. A giant slap in the faces of all the parents whose children were unsuspecting victims that day.

The other day, it was some loose-lipped loudmouth calling for Charity Ngilu's rape (because of course when anything a woman does is in question, sexual assault must now be the weapon to silence her). Sure, he apologised, but he still felt comfortable enough to say it, didn't he?

And the day before that, it was photographers being arrested in town for taking pictures of the sun because they were suspected to be terrorists. Funny how demanding money for something that required a court case was conducted so swiftly, and yet Westgate – which we are still not talking about – took 4 days.

We can go even further back.  We can always go further back. There is always something to regret, to feel terrible for.

We now feel this numbness every day. What are we to do in a country where babies are tear-gassed and the people who do so feel no consequences from their actions, whatsoever, even after civilians file statement after statement?

What can you say when both major parties have loose cannons making incendiary statements as if they're paid to do so? What can you do in the face of no choice?


In my opinion, Uhuru Kenyatta is not leading us to Canaan, or wherever the promised land is supposed to be. Witnessing strike after strike (including the nurses' strike, which is still on!), and attack after attack on civilians, and a silent administration, only proves this further, even as his lackeys shout louder.

It feels like a preface for a reign of terror – because this is acting with complete impunity. How people act when they know they're coming back and nothing and no one will check them. And you now what people say – when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

But then again, I don't know where Raila Odinga is taking us either, for different reasons. However, I can see that the bottom line is: the foundation is the same. It's the same revolving cycle of leadership, just under changing names and coalitions and banners.

There are two consistent things in Kenyan politics – the faces that we see on TV, and the faces that no one knows who die for the ones on TV.

I am not telling you who to vote for. I don't even know who I'm voting for myself. All I am saying is, pick your poison, knowing its potency.

Twitter: @AbigailArunga