Calm down, let’s live together as brothers, or perish as fools

Friday March 15 2019

Two men at Karatina town listen from a radio the proceedings of President Barack Obama as he addressed Kenyans at on July 26, 2015. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Two men listen to the radio in Karatina. There is a need for us to disassociate the message from the messenger. It doesn’t help anyone when you divert people’s attention to the real issues by attacking their person. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GABRIEL OGUDA
By GABRIEL OGUDA
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Mr Linus Kaikai gave a passionate pitch last week, asking the church in Kenya to be more responsible in its shepherding of the flock.

What was intended to be objective feedback to our men and women of the cloth ended up being a shouting match. You could feel tempers flying all over the place. Videos were shared calling Mr Kaikai bad names. Facebook posts went up asking him to watch his mouth. It was not the first time fair comment had been returned to sender in toto, neither will it be the last.

DISTURBING MADNESS

This country has a worryingly low affinity for positive critique. We listen to dissenting opinion not to understand, but to respond. Our egos have evolved to a near-breaking fragility. The driver in the commuter bus I was travelling in this morning was asked to reduce the volume on the stereo and he went on an endless rant instead of just telling those with defective ears to get out of his vehicle.

Just last week, someone was asked why he was ethnicising the war on corruption, but instead of taking advantage of the national platform to make us see the light, he lit his fuse and threatened people with unspecified consequences if his community was not respected.

If you take time watching the goings-on at the zebra crossing points in Nairobi, you will see impatient motorists honking at pedestrians to fly over and save their time. One impatient driver even got out of his car with rage and made the finger gun gesture to a visibly scared man in a wheelchair.

This disturbing madness is not exclusive to those in four wheels. Look at the panel discussions on our televisions. It doesn’t matter the topic — every panellist always comes to the studio armed to the teeth and ready for war.

People might be discussing fashion trends of the week and a comment comes in from Twitter asking why the fashion cop is dressed like a porcupine in a hurry. The next thing you know, the Twitter user is being asked to observe his village lane in not so nice words. You wonder what your village did wrong to be addressed in that manner.

PERSONALITY ATTACKS

You watch our local political talk shows for critical, authoritative content but instead you get served personality attacks and character assassinations against people who aren’t in the studio and cannot defend themselves.

The person being attacked is sitting at home with his children and is at a loss what he did to attract such bile and before you know it he is asking to level the playing field by responding with a series of zingers more lethal than an intercontinental ballistic missile.

This is exactly what happened last week with the Linus Kaikai kicker. All Mr Kaikai did was to shine a spotlight on the latest goings-on in the modern-day church, asking our religious leaders to justify why we need to keep trusting their version of the Gospel.

But instead of drawing us closer to God with their response, these men and women of the cloth came out guns blazing; we wondered who had started World War III without alerting us all.

If you knew you were going to come at us with fire and brimstone in your rejoinder, you should have given us time to enlist the backup services of Rambo for fair play. You surely can’t have the Holy Spirit and still use your sharp tongue on us. It is an unfair competitive advantage that the Competition Authority of Kenya needs to look into as a matter of urgency.

You get the general feeling that everywhere you go in this country people are angry.

HOT EMOTIONS

You cannot even walk into downtown Nairobi in the evenings anymore for fear of stepping on some hawker’s wares, which hawker will in turn punch you in the throat instead of apologising for grabbing pedestrian walkways to display their goods.

When you look around you there is a general consensus that this country is becoming inhospitable for people without a thick skin and body armour.

You are innocently going about your business when you encounter a street thief being chased down in your direction and just when you thought you were safe, the guy being hounded down points the mob at you. All of a sudden your life is in danger.

We all know the economy isn’t doing well currently and most Kenyans are bottling hot emotions inside as a result of this collective frustration. However, it is incumbent upon us not to vent our frustrations at the wrong people.

There is a need for us to disassociate the message from the messenger. It doesn’t help anyone when you divert people’s attention to the real issues by attacking their person. It is Martin Luther King Jr who said that “we need to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.”

Mr Oguda writes on topical issues; [email protected]

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