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Breaking the Template that has Kept us in Political Bondage

 

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Breaking the Template that has Kept us in Political Bondage

First, they sit and strategize, DIVIDE up the land into regions: friendly, unfriendly, neutral. Quantify those regions in terms of numbers or percentages. Determine which are most influential and RELEVANT. Then they create a schedule based on what their ‘enemy’ is doing or not doing. Then they send their people ‘to the ground’ to mobilize attendance and to set up the venues for the selected day. Then they send some people to mobilize the resources: cash, flour, sugar to be dished out as incentives for the attendees. Then they show up in grand style, sitting or standing in the sunroofs of their expensive vehicles, waving at the mobilized crowds like heroes of a great battle returning home to the love and adulation of their friends and families. Then they climb up onto colorful, decked out stages, them and their entourages. Sheltered from the sun, while their ‘followers’ amass before them, baking in the heat of the day. Loud music is blaring from the speakers, keeping emotions as heightened as possible, while speaker after speaker comes forward, shakes their booties, makes some remarks designed to excite the gathered crowds as much as possible. Designed to leave an emotional imprint so that when the ‘enemy’ shows up, they will not be able to dislodge them and their words with ease. Then they drive off as the cash, flour and sugar are dished out to the emotionally exhausted crowd and move on to the next venue in the next town, or head back to the capital city to review and plan their next move.

Meanwhile, their ‘enemy’ is watching from the sidelines and pouring as much cold water on their achievements on social media as possible. Hateful, demeaning words designed to disprove the popularity of that particular candidate. “Oh, there weren’t as many people as they claim in attendance.” “Oh they are using stock photography.” “Oh this person is evil and guilty of so many crimes.” On and on they go as their mobilized social media ‘troops’ faithfully regurgitate these words, slightly edited for freshness, to their own followers. And the heads of the electorate swivel to and fro between the two camps, as if watching a live tennis match. Waiting to catch the latest insult and have a good laugh at the expense of somebody else. Missing the point that they are what is being served up – their opinion, perspective and motivations are the fare on which these political aspirants are dining. Their hearts and minds are the bounty that are being targeted for capture.

Sometimes the candidates resort to the worst tactic possible, the hired goons. The people who are mobilized to visit violence upon the rival’s team or the electorate should they dare attend a rival’s political rally or receive their ‘gifts’ or even consider supporting them. Violence, threats and intimidation become the tools of choice for those who are afraid of losing and want to keep ‘their seats’ at all costs. Behind the scenes, political actors lobby one another, using bribes and threats to coerce individuals who would be better leaders than they to give up their aspirations in exchange for cash, silence or both. So that the one who is so desperate for ‘power’ that he would grab it at any cost can have his way.

And so, political rivals are struck off the list, one after the other, until only the two or three ultra-determined individuals meet at the ballot box to face off against one another. Meanwhile, more goons are recruited to stuff ballot boxes, steal ballot papers, or other dirty tricks designed to ensure that the unknown outcome becomes much more predictable and dependable. After all, having spent hundreds of millions on the entire stinky process, one must ensure that they get the commensurate return on investment which comes in the form of a political seat, hard fought and hard won.

After the elections – they quickly increase their salaries to recover from their debts and pay back the favors received either in cash or in kind: tenders, favors, roads, laws and on and on. Leaving the voter duped and exploited and with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. For in the next 4 or 5 years, the only thing they will see or hear from their ‘chosen one’ will be some mediocre excuses made in public for why they are not doing their jobs. They will witness the horror of realizing that the man or woman that they selected to represent them only ever had their selfish interests at heart and not once considered the people who they went to, begging for votes and access to office.

And once it is all over, the one who thought they were the only one fit for the job begins the process of protest. Into the courts they march with lengthy petitions and claims to make about how illegal the elections were. Onto the streets they stream, hooligans in hand, to make life difficult for everybody in the capital city  until their claims are heard. Before the microphones they troop shouting to be heard about the injustice that has been visited upon them and just how horrible it is. Some resort to violence in order to get their so-called rightful places restored to them. Because no one, other than they, should hold the office they so passionately covet.

This is how it goes every election cycle, all across Afrika, and in many parts of the world. Monotony, senselessness and utter disrespect for the people that they say they want to represent.

Meanwhile, self-righteous ‘middle and upper’ class Afrikans blame the poor choice of leaders on the decisions made by ‘lower’ class Afrikans. Saying that it is the cooks, the cleaners, the gardeners, the peasant farmers and so on who make the choices that leave them with a motley representation of such mediocrity. Never once considering that they were in a position to educate and help them to understand what is really going on and to be able to make a decision that they can actually celebrate and stand by in the aftermath of the voting and counting process.

All hail the democratic process and the modern world and way of living that we have chosen for ourselves! Actually, no. Let there be no hailing. I am sick of it. Just as we all ought to be sick of it. This inanity must end. Did you notice that in NONE of the scenarios highlighted above did any of the candidates demonstrate insight into the real needs of the people, love for them or a positive and transformative vision for where they would like to take them?

Seriously speaking, how can it be that we are willing to allow cycles of 4-8 or 5-10 years just roll by, over and over, the way that we do? Especially when we have such clear evidence of such rot and decay sitting atop our heads and directing or attempting to direct our destinies in some specific direction. These Afrikan politicians, the majority of them, roll into office with their heads held high, driving huge 4x4s which we fuel and maintain, acting as though they are now our kings and chiefs, sit on their faux-leather seats with pride and proceed to ignore each one of us, day in and day out, year in and year out and then, after 4 or 5 years, come back to us in pretended humility to ‘ask’ for our vote again? They don’t care. The proof is there. And as we scatter before their armed escorts and blaring sirens, only a few of them actually do the work that they promised they would do. Others attempt a small portion of it, because after all they have to demonstrate that they made some kind of effort for them to be able to get voted in again and continue their reign of laxity. Is that not so? The rest are too busy traveling to foreign lands for ‘benchmarking tours’ or sneaking off to hotels to have sordid sexual trysts with other people’s wives and husbands because in their books, that’s how they ought to behave. It is sick and sickening what we allow them to get away with.

Instead of invoking any existing provisions in the constitution that allow for them to forcibly eject these so-called leaders from their seats, prior to their terms ending, the electorate just take the nonsense lying down, choose to wait out the 4- or 5-year cycle and then make another badly informed and ill-advised selection who also treats them as if they are worthless. Others return their oppressors to office for another 4 or 5 years. This means that entire decades – DECADES – are LOST as Afrikans choose to repeat the errors of the past and retain the men and women who have proven unable, unwilling, or both, to do what is needed in ensuring the welfare of their nations is defended and their futures built up accordingly.

Is this self-hate or ignorance? I believe it is a mixture of both, really. To keep going back to the boot that steps on your neck and saying, “Oh, sorry, please you did not yet crush this part of my neck. In fact, perhaps this time you can consider squeezing my skull instead. That might be more appropriate, since I did not suffer sufficiently the last time you oppressed me.” To keep doing that says a lot about the value the electorate does not place on itself, perhaps because they do not understand that they do have great value. Is it ignorance? Yes, if you have an employee who is not doing their job, why will you keep paying them? They go out and steal, kill people, destroy your children’s future by mortgaging the country to lenders, poison you through food and water, allow thieves into your country and you keep on paying them for what they have done? Instead of firing them using approved mechanisms? That is ignorance of your authority as an employer. That is ignorance of how your laws work. That is ignorance of the purpose of your employee and their responsibility to you. And all of that represents a generational problem if we allow it to continue.

These people owe you acceptable quality work that enables you to focus on what you love to do. That is what a representative is meant to do for you. To act on your behalf while you manage other matters. They do not owe you bullying tactics, strangulating costs of living, manipulative and coercive treatment and murderous police officers who work against your safety instead of for it. They do not owe you closed contracts with external entities that imprison you and put you in a position where you cannot freely exchange seeds or use seeds the way you are accustomed to or are forced to use and pay for medication that you do not need and that could kill you. They do not owe you awful contracts with organizations that result in debt repayments that trap you and your children for decades. Do you realize that if these things are happening to you in your country that you are paying for this through your taxes? You are literally paying to be tortured and tormented. That is a very weird relationship with your employee.

It does not matter if they are the president, a member of parliament or a cabinet secretary… they are there to serve your interests, not their own. It is public service they are signing up for. Stop letting them get away with being mean to you, stealing from you, or dereliction of duty. Stop letting them get away with being dishonorable and disrespectful towards you. Stop it. They owe you a high standard of service. Make sure you get it. If they are not performing, summon them and demand improvements. If they fail you, fire them and replace them. That’s it.

Politicians and governments count on you being predictable and stupid so that they do not have to exert themselves, they do not have to do anything outside of the template that you have become accustomed to. It has become no big thing for them to climb up on a stage, produce a few silly dance moves to make you think, “Oh he or she is just like one of us!!! That’s so nice! That must mean they really understand us.” Because they know that once they have you laughing at their ‘human-ness’ then they can con you again into believing their lies. But you cannot be like that again.

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For those who attend rallies and receive the small items that are dished out such as t-shirts, baseball caps, $5 dollar handouts or bags of flour, rice or sugar please understand that these items are not given to you out of great love for you. It is an attempt to purchase you. Those are the same tricks the colonizers played on village chiefs. You must remember that you are worth more than a piece of cloth or a grain of flour or sugar. By all means, take them, but do not let the items be the things that decide what you do when you reach the ballot box. Don’t fight for those things. I have seen situations where people start to fight over the gifts, like fools. Don’t waste your time. Walk away. You are worth more.

If you do get a gift item, go home, make tea for your family, or whatever small meal that bag of flour and small money can produce, or even give it away – and then make up your mind what kind of leader you really want. Is it the handout giver or the one who genuinely cares about you and your community? Where were they all these years? Have they been making an impact in your society at all, or were they just waiting for elections to cash in on them? Look at the person’s heart, look at their track record, look at their character, look at how they treat you and then compare them with others who are also trying to secure a position. Pray about it, ask God who He wants and on voting day, go quietly, pick your pieces of paper and vote. That’s your right. Leave them and their games and clownish behavior, if that’s how they insist on living. You do not have to be like them. Teach your children the same thing.

You see, the only way we are going to change the things happening in politics in Afrika is if WE do things differently. Those ones who dance on stage and make lying pronouncements as promises then enter office and do whatever they feel like doing – or whatever their party leader says – those ones will not change until we change. And they will try to keep us behaving as unthinking people because they are too lazy to try new things. It is the same with the news media. They do not want to have to struggle to think about your changing and maturing perspective, they want to keep you hooked on South American soap operas and news about politicians because it makes their lives easier. Show all of them that you know that you deserve better and that if they do not change, you and your family are moving on. Don’t limit yourself to their ways. Force them to grow and catch up. You owe them that as a member of the society that wants to see things improve.

Our world and the political space especially in Afrika has been taken over by jokers and manipulators. Most of them are visionless and are only gunning for the tickle that a political seat will give them. They have nothing useful to give or deliver to the people. And the ones that try to do so, end up leaving heaps of debt on the laps of their people while calling it development. There is a level of boldness required to tame the madness of our visionless politicians.

The electorate must take it upon themselves to ask questions. You cannot be blinded by candies and big words and not see through the many lies that these politicians bring to the table. When they tell you as a Kenyan that they will give each Kenyan family 6000KSh every month, ask them where they hope to get the money, especially knowing that the incumbent government already has 9TrillionKSh in debt waiting for the incoming administration.

Or you can ask the other ones that think wheelbarrow was what Elon Musk used to get to space. When next you meet them, bring a marker board before them and ask them in one hour to explain to you, like they would tell a child, how they intend to carry out the big mouthy development project they are busy promising they will  bring when elected. Don’t let them fool you all over again.

It is our responsibility as a people to create the momentum for change in our societies. Our responsibility. So, you, pick your head up. You not only have great value; you have great authority and influence as well. Do not abuse it by selling it for money or some cheap token. Honor it by ensuring that you make sure it counts for something, and along the way, tell a friend or neighbor about your renewed mindset. Perhaps in doing that, we can actually shift things in the direction that they really need to go in.

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