Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's not just Kenya

Blogger Solomonsydelle of Nigerian Curiosity says in the comment area of this post:

Politicians the world over have made a mockery of their constituents, but the travesty is nowhere more glaring than on our continent.

The tragedy is not that the main culprits continue to sit in office in the wake of damning revelations, but that they vie again and Kenyans elect them right back in the general elections’

Being that this is a symptom endemic on the continent, do you have any ideas on how to prevent this from happening? It is the same in Nigeria and it drives any person with the time to think absolutely crazy. Great post!

Solomon thanks. I hope other bloggers will help me look at this one. In a perfect world, the idea would be to keep current untainted members and elect other clean fresh ones to replace the old corrupt guard and have one happy family. But one can only vote in one constituency and cannot control whom other constituencies are voting in. And even then you may never completely know the character of a candidate until they get the jobs and taste power and money.

In my constituency for example, folks voted in one of their brightest sons. Young, clean and untainted as far as anyone could tell. But in the very first few weeks of his tenure, he was slapped with a US Visa ban for alleged involvement in illegal gang activities. So much for fresh leadership.

There was talk about recalling non-performing members but the way things stand now, the idea is almost laughable. Do we even have a body to supervise elections yet? I forget. As much as the Kenyan electorate is capable of high level co-operation, so far we have demonstrated it in voting in candidates. I doubt the same would come to play when it comes to firing individual MPs mid-term. I don’t know. In any case we still need the members to pass a clause such as this. Solutions are there. Problem is that implementation falls on the very scoundrels that are the course of our problems.

Otherwise politics aside it’s holiday time. Holiday travel is beckoning and I’ll be gone for a few days. Lots of folks have come down to the coast for their Easter holidays. Karibuni sana. Others like me are going upcountry for some cold, clean, crisp humidity free air. Happy holidays!


Cee said...

Happy Easter Shiko...enjoy the fresh upcountry air, as for our dear Politricksters and they acrobats...wacha I abstain. I think on this I shall listen to the pope and Abstain rather than use your holidays

joyunspeakable said...

Shiko...easter blessings...the world is the same all over

Mama Shujaa said...

Shiko, Have a Happy Easter! You and Solomonsydelle ask:

"Being that this is a symptom endemic on the continent, do you have any ideas on how to prevent this from happening?"

I firmly believe that the political/educated elite forget the most fundamental human need which is simply, to survive. The reason these politicians are relected of course is as a result of the rampant corruption. Africa is corrupt, we know it is corrupt; we must accept that as a fact. Then ask: How do you deal with corruption? First and foremost, it cannot be eradicated, it is as old as mankind. So we should stop daydreaming, thinking wishfully...

Take this scenario: you have a wife, a mother of 4 whose husband is in and out of work, the children are hungry, there is school fees to pay. A politician comes driving around town, giving money for people to vote for him, what will she do, what will her husband do, what will their neighbors do?

And then a young bright articulate
politician comes along with idealistic goals and no money, who will they vote for?

When we fight poverty and truly empower people, we will see fairer elections, maybe.

My sumni mbili.

Mama Shujaa.


Like Mama Shujaa noted, eradicating poverty is definitely a key part of limiting the need for corruption in our countries.

But, again we end up with the same problem, don't we? We are stunted in our desire to do away with poverty because the ruling class in our countries, the continent over, thrive on the the fact that the poor live in chaos. I personally think that our 'leaders' want to maintain poverty so that our people will be unable to think about anything other than the bare necessities. Feel free to quote me on that one. =)

If there is any truth to my line of thinking, then why should we assume that these same leaders will work to limit poverty and create a larger middle class? As far as they are concerned, it is not to their advantage.

Therefore, I truly believe that individuals must become successful at whatever it is they do. Distinguish themselves and their voice so as to be an engaging member of society and influence those that can still be influenced to do the right things politically and economically. But, as long as we continue to sanction the inadequate behavior of those responsible for our welfare and the future of our unborn children, we will continue to wail, cry and complain. Let us continue to encourage our people to want more from their representatives, to expect more from themselves. We too can live better, more satisfactory lives. That too should be the right of every African, no? But until a majority believe it and demand it, hopefully, peacefully...

Bradpetehoops said...

Happy Easter. May have peace in Kenya. Have a nice a day.

Darius Stone said...

Interesting discussion.

Just to pick up on one of Mama Shujaa's threads of conversation about empowering the people alongside working on poverty alleviation as a strategy of changing electral fortunes...

When talking about empowerment, we sometimes give the sense that power is something in a bank somewhere that you can give folks at in...Here take it, this is power.

The notion that one person can empower another person also suggests that the giver of that power can remove that power.

I'm not contesting the end game here in that the populus should ideally be in a position to make informed choices about all aspects of their lives - the notion that one entity has power over another and will then give it to those who don't have it is to me one of the fundamental flaws of development ideology

Mama Shujaa said...

Very true Solomonsydelle, those at the top want to maintain the status quo by all means. There might be a handful who know what needs to be done and are willing to do what needs to be done, but they are outnumbered by those who have been ‘empowered’ by money. And Darius Stone makes a good point about the tangibility of empowerment, handed down from one to the other.

In my thinking, first things have to come first: you cannot do anything on an empty stomach. You don’t have time for luxuries like thinking when your child is dying of hunger. So, we must make sure there’s food on the table first then folks can think properly, become creative and strong enough to wrestle the power from the powers that be. That is when the battle begins, whether physical or in the polling booth.

And in Africa the leaders have been at the top for so long, each one grooming the other one, they have always been forced out of power; perhaps with the exception of the late Julius Kabarage Nyerere – I LOVED the man; I listened to his speeches every Sunday when I lived in Tanzania – and even in his case, he was an old man when he gave up power). And Nelson Mandela – although, with all due respect if he was fifty at the time, he may have not given up power.

So empowerment – what is it? Knowledge is empowerment. When you have the option to make choices - that is empowerment; the knowledge that your decision will be honored – that is empowerment. When you go to the poll and vote, for this party or that party, that is empowerment. When you are empowered, the clutter is cleared, and you can move on to the next beautiful horizon, and la luta continua!

And as Solomonsydelle says: Let us continue to encourage our people to want more from their representatives, to expect more from themselves. We too can live better, more satisfactory lives. That too should be the right of every African, no? But until a majority believe it and demand it, hopefully, peacefully...

Shiko-Msa said...

Hi people.

Mama Shujaa, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Solomon, Bradpetehoops, Joy, Cee, thanks for keeping things moving while i lazed and enjoyed cool air upcountry. Thanks for the solid debate.