Kenya, A Nation Inhales

Oh bother, Gathara has done it again, he has put to words the things that we, as a nation, seem afraid to say. In his latest blogpost he spoke of the republic of fear. It seems that we are stuck in a nation where to speak, is to be wrong, to write, is to be criticized and to disagree with any “official truth” is just absurd. When the Supreme court made their ruling I thought about what I would write if I was commissioned to write a big piece for a magazine. I settled on the headline “A Nation Exhales.” It would be 1000 words of witty, capturing and mellow quips about how Kenya had collectively held its breath leading up toward the elections. It would then talk about how we had pursed our lips tighter leading up to the supreme court ruling.

“Please don’t let it be controversial.”

That was our collective, non verbal prayer. Held in silent lips to a god who must read our thoughts to hear our pleas. And they were granted. The supreme court gave the only plausible ruling they could have. That president elect Mr Freedom had become president in a free and fair election. And there was nothing wrong with anything.  And the country exhaled. We let our hair down, and danced in the streets. It would have been an amazing story.

Also, it would have been wrong.

We are not exhaling. Celebrations are looked upon with frowns and wailing, well, that’s even worse. We have fallen into step. Like the sheep we are we are blindly following. “Moving on,” that’s what we call it. Forget the fact that we don’t know what we are moving on to. And if you ask where this particular train is going, no one will give you an answer, because no one knows.

But we need to get over it? Don’t we? We need to stop dwelling on the past, we need to believe in the courts, in the IEBC, in God – from where all power is given. Even though we know that God went out of the business of choosing leaders once democracy came to life. Mugabe claims to have been chosen by God, I’m not sure what the Deity would have to say about that. This, however, is not about defending God’s name against defamation, no. He can do that for himself, and quite effectively at that.

This isn’t even about politics, which is what it may seem to be about.

No, this is about society. This is about the effects of 40+ million people walking in silence. This is about going to a party and looking for a place where people with your political views are seated so that you can be safe. This is about a country where we go out of our way to avoid the truth. This is about Wanjiku, and her death. This is about moving on, and not moving on. This is about silencing people who clearly have something to say. This is about the militarisation of peace. This is about a man in Kisumu, who cried on national tv because his political candidate had lost the elections.

This is about fear. A fear that grips you so hard that you read your email twice before you send it. That you dare not ask questions in public. That you make sure you have mentioned all 42 tribes of the country in equal measure before you say anything. The same fear that will stop you from sharing this post because it is inflammatory. That fear that wishes I’d just keep silent.

Don’t hold your breath.

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