Crisis calls for a true awakening to lead us out of the present wilderness

Sunday October 22 2017

Nasa demonstrations

Nasa leaders and their supporters protest in Uhuru Park on October 11, 2017 calling for reforms in IEBC. Nasa has vowed to boycott repeat poll if their demands are not met while Jubilee insists elections will be held. The current crisis calls for a true awakening to lead us out of the present wilderness. PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  


Clearly, we are no longer sure when we will get out of this political wilderness.

What’s certain is that the 2017 presidential elections have brought to light intrinsic issues in our political space.

Often attributed to public distrust of institutions, the current political stalemate may point to a greater problem — a divided society.

This disconnection is about the degraded quality of our interactions with people of divergent views, but it can also be identified in the troubled state of our political and social life.

It’s a crisis that calls for a true awakening to lead us out of the present wilderness.


To cool down opposing political temperatures, this is not a call for the wilderness that shaped the opposition’s political narrative.

Whatever the outcome of the October 26 election, there is a need to liberate the country from negative ethnicity and intolerance, corruption and mistrust in institutions.

Time is ripe for a position that has been largely neglected amidst the political polemics.

Amid the election controversy, Kenya is still laced with disparaging propaganda that often appeals to our fear and risks, pulling us away from the true belief in our inseparable human connection.


When our belief that there’s something greater than us, something rooted in human compassion breaks, we are more likely to retreat to our comfort zones, to hate from afar, to tolerate political propaganda and to dehumanise others.

If you think this need for belonging to particular factions is democratic and comforting, then why is there so much fear and call for peace?

If everyone is screaming for peace, then it clearly means there is a problem somewhere, evidenced by people propagating hate and intolerance.

While democracy provides the right to support your candidate, the level of intolerance is uncalled-for and we must all ask: Where is our moral conscience to wriggle ourselves out of this crisis?


For the moment, most of us are making the choice to shield ourselves from conflict or discomfort by staying quiet, or picking sides and in the process condoning the behaviour of the people with whom we privately disagree.

The choices we are making to protect our true beliefs leave the disingenuous and reckless voices undeterred.

Pretending this problem will just go away gives us a false sense of certainty even if it means giving our power to anyone who can promise easy answers or give us an enemy to blame.

What we, therefore, confront is nothing close to valued principle, ours is an industry concerned with neither virtues of truth nor the vices of falsity.

Instead, we have invented a new illusory world.


We are victims of political and mass media campaigns — numbing animated graphics, and repetitive catchphrases — that seek to inspire a cloud of mass hysteria.

This culture now infiltrates our politics and, despite many sober calls, every day, millions of people are being pressured to “pick a side”. 

Critical thinking that doesn’t fit into one of the two polarised camps is being dismissed or degraded.

As a result, we should feel compelled to provide a voice for those of us lost in the political wilderness.


We must persevere and not be manipulated into the destructive divide-and-rule tactics.

If there is any connection that we can draw between today’s lack of civility and true belonging, maybe it’s that our ideas about where we belong need to be re-examined.

In this period of polarisation, the ideology of researcher, storyteller and author Brené Brown is timely and challenges everything we may think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organisations, and culture.

In her book, Braving the Wilderness, Brown writes: “We have sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics, policies and ideology. We have turned away from one another and instead turned toward blame and rage.”


To brave the wilderness, Brown challenges us to change the conversations we are having while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

This conscious awakening offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other.

And that path may just present an alternative view to the current narratives.

Instead of choosing sides, be true to your values, choose the truth. Can you imagine if more of us just spoke up, not necessarily in public, but whenever confronted with negative ethnicity?


It can be shared with civility and one voice may not be heard but a million voices of truth can change the world.

To paraphrase Brown, the wilderness is an unpredictable place of reflection for each of us and offers soul searching.

It is a perilous place if not managed well as it is breathtaking and promising, a place if sought after, turns out to be the place of true belonging.

True belonging is something that we negotiate in our hearts and not something that we negotiate with a group of people.


The writer is the Managing Director Africapractice EA Ltd