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Kenyans obsessed with politicians

Kenyans are obsessed with politicians. We worship, hero worship, adore, deify our politicians and hate them with the same passion. A minute cannot pass by in a conversation without the name of a politician or a political topic coming up. They are the mheshimiwas, the respected ones, revered, adored, glorified and worshipped. But not trusted.

Why can’t they be trusted? Because they have no permanent friends or enemies. One politician will show total commitment to his or her party and sing its praises only to wake up the following day and join the very party whose evils they have been touting. Sleeping  with the enemy, is an art they have mastered and shamelessness is their other name.

When a politician arrives in the Constituency, activities come to a standstill. God has arrived. Power has arrived and so has help and hope for opportunities. In them, constituents see school fees for their children, a pregnant mother in labour sees a lift to the Hospital, hungry supporters see a chance to drink Busaa or Chang’aa or at least employment. If  one fails to get any help then they will have at least eaten githeri and porridge in the politician’s compound. The big car with several bodyguards is indeed the trappings of power.

The media is a reflection of the society and so in our local scene -newspapers, television and radio, politics is always hottest on the agenda. Politics sells and this makes the media obsessed with the politicians too. Facebook is about 80 per cent politics as reflected in the postings and responses. Everything else is boring or trite.

Seems like it is almost every Kenyan’s dream to become a politician. A politician is the mark of success in our society with their big cars, big houses, bodyguards, good life. Their children attend the best schools, most of them  abroad, and they travel overseas for the best treatment. Their mothers and grandmothers are flown abroad for treatment too, or admitted in Nairobi Hospitals. Who would not want to become a politician and transform their lives for the better?

Kenyans are hungry and once you give a hungry dog a bone, it will do whatever you want it to do. “Guok ong’iyo kama omwodo e chogo (a dog pays regular visits where it gets bones). The politician knows this and takes full advantage of supporters. They hire youth to cause mayhem by giving them a mere KShs50 giving them the now famous nicknames, “the KSh50 politicians”. The youth have no jobs and our politicians use their vulnerable situation to exploit them. The youth do not even like them but ironically, whoever puts bread on the table happens to be your “best politician”.

The poverty of a Kenyan is the lifeline of the politician. The poverty of a Kenyan is the fodder for a politician’s success. Politicians use idle psychophants to spread malicious rumours about their enemies so that they can finish them politically.

So Kenyans remain obsessed with politicians. Kenyans fully embraced multi-party politics, hoping it would turn the country into a democratic state. We embraced multi-party hoping it would rid us of tribalism. We embraced multiparty hoping it would rid us of corruption.

But multi-party politics brought along with it ethnic tensions and strengthened votting patterns along ethnic lines. Corruption multiplied umpteenth-fold like never seen before from the poorest to the highest echelons of society.

As we approach the next general elections tongues are wagging everywhere because the politician has ensured that the election date remains a mystery. So, obsessed Kenyans have to continue guessing the dates as a way of keeping politics and the politicians in the limelight.

Kenyans elect politicians in the hope that they will change the society for the better. But this has not happened yet. That is why every five years, Kenyans change their leaders, hoping the next time maybe, things will truly change.

When the politicians mobilise crowds for the rallies, some think that the crowd loves them. Not really, they are obsessed. They are obsessed with the KShs 50 they have been paid to heckle, scream, screech blow the vuvuzela and dance.

So we are obsessed and we will remain obsessed with politicians until they give us what we voted them for. A democratic society.

Copyright Omwa Ombara 2012

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