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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kenya Elections: What Value Is The Blogosphere Adding?

A lot has been published in Kenyan blogs about the forthcoming general elections. Some candidates have established their own blogs.

With only a few days remaining to the general elections, and with all major political parties having released their manifestos, the blogosphere has for instance made very little effort in analysing these manifestos and/or the candidates themselves.

Instead, ethnic bigotry, accusations and counter-accusations have flooded blogs some accompanied by extremely sordid images of some the candidates. Short text messages are flying in all directions in the country and beyond.

Presently, there have been unconfirmed reports that one or two media houses in Kenya have been earmarked to serialize the 1982 abortive coup attempt in an effort to smear the name of one of the leading candidates.

Another allegation has been that the proscribed mungiki sect will from this xmas week, unleash untold terror in parts of Langata constituency in order to 'scatter' voters who are known to vote for a particular candidate.

Meanwhile another rumour doing rounds is that one presidential candidate is due to step down in favour of the incumbent on 22nd December, in deal in which a post-election MOU has been reached. A large sum of cash is also said to have changed hands.

But perhaps the most outrageous is that, with several days to the elections, a leading contender for the presidency has already drafted an inauguration speech, set-up a handing-over ceremony programme, prepared a state guest list and also a schedule of cabinet ministers!

Is this a reflection of what the Kenya society is? Why is the country increasingly polarized along ethnic lines instead of embracing nationhood inspite of political differences?

Is the establishment of a truth and reconciliation committee a worthwhile venture for the next administration to seriously consider?

On top of all this, what should be expected of the blogosphere now and in the future?

2 comments:

Andy said...

I do accept that there are all sorts of allegations flying around. But what's wrong with planning ahead or as you put it - drafting an inauguration speech, setting-up a handing-over ceremony programme, preparing a state guest list? Would you rather prefer the 2002 situation where noone seemed in charge?

luke said...

Bw. Phil, you are asking too much of Kenyans - to ask them to reason and think rationally when analysing these elections, the civic and parliamentary candidates plus the political parties backing them without any underlying ethnicism is asking for the impossible!
Unfortunately i am cynical-many years ago i lost all faith in the sound judgement faculty of my people, including me because i too am a pumbavu and not any different. its why i have been singing and will keep on saying that 2012 is the beginning of hope for our nation. between now and then after these December elections regardless of who wins, they will be inheriting a very very fractured and ethnically polarised country and a process of healing will need to begin immediately-i do not think though that they standard truth and reconciliation committee will be the way to go
All what we have witnessed this year is Kenya unmasked-even worse than our HIV-AIDS is our tribalistic dislike for one another based on what part of the country you were born in-please note I speak as one who is fed up-my hero John Githongo summed it up ever so succinctly - "the idea (of the ruling political elite is) that Kenyans are idiots who can be fooled repeatedly. Kenyans enjoy being robbed; they are used to it and if they are not complaining, why should anyone else"
Therefore i feel that the role of the blogosphere and the mainstream media should be to keep an eye on Kenya, Kenyans and their resources, to raise the alarm so that we are not robbed, to set the standard in raising the bar so that people expect more from Government and civil authorities-i think Kumekucha for instance should be taken on-air as a serious blog-tv version of the kenyan blogosphere
I know we Kenyans are highly excitable chaps and to think of sustaining such level of debate from January 2008 is to ask too much of people who want to get on with seeing the promised land finally in their generation but please, we are not yet there, regardless of who wins-we must fight to make things finally go right

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