African Press International (API)

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Why Kenyans Should Be Mad, Very Mad Indeed

Posted by African Press International on October 27, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012 – 00:00 — BY MWENDA NJOKA

Kenyans have some very good reasons to be mad. Very, very mad indeed. Why, you ask? Well, let us put it this way: if our leaders are not safe to travel the land and address rallies in any part of the country, who then is safe?

About a fortnight ago, Fisheries minister and MP for Magarini, Amason Jeffah Kingi was addressing a rally in Mtwapa area in the outskirts of the generally peaceful coastal city of Mombasa when machete-wielding youth stormed and started slashing everyone at the dais.

This was a completely new phenomenon in the spate of violence that has rocked some parts of the country in recent times. No wonder then that the minister and his bodyguards were caught completely unawares by the specter of violence.

Several people, including the minister’s loyal bodyguard were killed in the machete mayhem. The matter of Amason Kingi attack caught public attention for a few days and then we moved on to other “more interesting” news and issues.

And then a few days later our slumber was interrupted by yet another VIP attack. This time around it was the self-styled Boss, the Makueni MP John Harun Mwau who found himself on the receiving end.

Mwau had gone to attend a political rally in Makueni when, ostensibly out of the blues, a group of hostile youth descended on him baying for his blood.

Mwau was saved by quick action by his bodyguard-cum-aide John Ngugi who jumped in front of the irate youth to shield Mwau from their physical attacks.

So, why should Kenyans be livid, you ask?  Because attacks on political leaders in broad daylight by some crazed youth is something alien to our socio-political culture.

It is something that should make us very concerned and very scared. Something that should get us thinking long and deep, more so when such attacks happen at a time when we are just about to go into what is billed to be a most competitive general election in eons.

My grouse here is that we, as a country, don’t seem to be as concerned over these two incidents as we ought to be. Is it that we are treating these two incidents as isolated happenings that have no bearing to future insecurity? If that is the case, then we are in a state of self-denial.

And that is exactly where the problem lies. Any assumption that the attacks on Cabinet minister Amason Jeffah Kingi and legislator John Harun Mwau were mere isolated incidents of random acts violence is the national equivalent of an ostrich that buries its head in the sand when it sees danger approaching on the assumption that if it does not see the danger, then the danger will not see it too.

Such an ostrich often finds itself becoming dinner for a hungry lioness and her cubs. But on the other hand, had the ostrich clearly recognised the danger ahead and defined ways and means  of dealing with it—whether flight or flight approach—then chances are that the ostrich would have lived to see another day.

As a country, we find ourselves in the ostrich situation in regard to the recent attacks on political leaders. The danger here is that when a security threat incident of such magnitude takes place and the culprits appear to have been let scot-free, whether by design or default, it sends the wrong kind of message.

It is tantamount to telling people with grievances against political leaders (and such people are myriad) in all parts of the country that they should feel free to engage in self-help (Swahili equivalent in this regard is kuchukulia sheria mkononi mwako) against the leaders they dislike and nothing will happen to you!

That is not the kind of message a country, or a government for that matter, wants to send to her citizens more so just a few months before a critical general election.

That is why Kenyans ought to be outraged by the attacks on political leaders and demand quick and decisive action by the government.

It does not matter that you do not like a certain leader, but at the end of the day he or she has as much right to security as your favourite leader.

If we make lethargy and indecisiveness the hallmark reactions to attacks on our leaders perhaps because those to whom the attacks were directed at are not our favourite politicians or do not belong to our political parties, then we are setting a very dangerous precedent.

Yesterday the target may have been Fisheries minister Amason Kingi; today it is former assistant minister John Harun Mwau, who will be the target of violence tomorrow?

There is no knowing when and where such violence will end if given a chance to take root. There is a very dangerous genie in the bottle of violence. If we fail to completely place back the cork on the bottle by decisively dealing with proponents and financiers of violence—no matter what positions they hold in society—then we will have only ourselves as a country to blame when we are unable to put the genie back in the bottle.


———————— The Star of Kenya ————–


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