OCHIENG: Politicians have cheapened politics with petty talk - Daily Nation

Politicians have cheapened politics with petty talk

Sunday August 26 2018

post-election violence

Youths set up a road block in Naivasha on January 28, 2008, at the height of Kenya's post-election violence. Politicians are the ones who make it their task to struggle so hard to deny that there is negative tribalist “politics” in any of their notably petty-minded political statements and activities. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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As humanity should now universally know, politics is the manner in which the species organises itself to maximise the production, distribution and security of its collective wherewithal. Politics is thus the manner in which humanity struggles for the control of such resources. It is in that sense that, in a word, every nation, ethnic group and family is a political unit.

Nowadays, indeed, the whole human world is politically organised in the shape of something known as the United Nations. However, although that is a remarkable achievement by an animal species so intra-specifically fractious, so quarrelsome and so noisy, it immediately raises a starkly remarkable question.


Why is it that, in the human world, the politicians are the very individuals who most vehemently deny politics in certain of their activities? That is a remarkable fact because — by the etymological root of the word politics — there should no longer exist in the human world any political activity that can be condemned as anti-human.

In East Africa, for instance, every time a politician accuses another politician of a social failing, the accused is most likely to retort with vehemence that the accusation is “merely political”. The latter thus appears self-satisfied that he or she has responded adequately and responsibly. By means of a single adjective — political — the accused appears satisfied that he/she has defended himself/herself adequately. Politics — the manner in which humanity seeks to feed, defend and strengthen itself adequately — thus becomes a game by which certain individuals seek to outdo one another in their own voracious self-pursuits. In Kenya, once a politician has dismissed the words of an opponent as merely “political”, the politician immediately assumes the personification of innocence.


Politics thus unavoidably becomes the game through which individuals, nations, races, religions and tribes seek to defeat one another the whole world over. At least in our country, there is absolutely no need for anybody to deny that “politics” — in the narrowest sense of that word — is the essence of his or her latest verbal output,

Personally, I see absolutely no necessity for any individual, nation, race or religious sector to deny “politics” whenever accused of it, and to use the noun “politics” merely as a stick with which to beat into momentary or even permanent silence all of one’s critics on the other side of the political soccer pitch. No. Before it is smeared with the smudge of greed and of ethnic, racial, religious and gender self-interests, there is nothing wrong with politics. Before then, politics is the way in which every human society the whole world over can and, indeed, does organise itself. As implied by such of its derivatives as polite, polish and polity, politics is the tool by which a society can humanise itself both at home and in its relations with other human groups.


Yet, among humanity the whole world over, the politicians are the ones who have cheapened and still, knowingly or unknowingly, seek to cheapen politics. It is not surprising, therefore, that the politicians are the ones who make it their task to struggle so hard to deny that there is negative tribalist “politics” in any of their notably petty-minded political statements and activities. Yet I must say something for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s denial the other day that there had been any politics in his recent “deal” with Opposition leader Raila Odinga. If, by the word “politics”, the President was referring to the ethnic pettiness that controls the minds of Kenya’s politicians, then I must agree with the President.

For his statement was apparently inspired by what the son of Jomo probably sees as nationally necessary for a long-lasting and, indeed, permanent national peace deal, an ideal which we can achieve only if every Kenyan consciously struggles to help every other Kenyan to arrive home healthy, well clothed. well-educated and well-fed.