So why are many Kenyans reluctant or better put, not excited to register as voters? Is it because they have done it time and again yet the status quo prevailed? Jaramogi Oginga wrote an autobiography which did not go down well with the government at that time dubbed ‘Not yet Uhuru’. 49 years after independence, Kenya is still grappling with the same challenges it had. Land being our most valued resource has over time been poorly managed. As a result we have the 2nd largest slum in Africa and 3rd worldwide, we have internally displaced persons five years after the post election violence, we have a large proportion of Kenyans living as squatters from Coast to Nyeri, over 50% of Nairobians are slum dwellers. About three to five powerful families occupy atleast 30% of Kenya’s land mass. We have experienced clashes since 1992 resulting to many deaths, displacement of persons and destruction of property. The government appeared slow and confused in handling massacres in Tana river and Baragoi. This has left many people maimed, devastated windows and hopeless children with stigma written on their faces. I feel ashamed as a Kenyan everytime I watch in the news, IDPs enduring harsh weather of cold and rain with no basic amenities to survive. We watch many a time documentaries reporting on poverty levels in parts of North Eastern. Malnourished men and women walking hand in hand with their camels many kilometres in hope of coming across an oasis or good samaritans. We know of not one, not two but many freedom fighters who have died as paupers. Their families have been struck by poverty while those who collaborated with the colonialists enjoy the fine things life has to offer. As a country we have 40% of our potential labour force being unemployed, this reminds me of the U.S elections where unemployment rate is about 8% but still giving Obama adminstration many sleepless nights. To get a good school or job, you must be connected with the ‘You should know people’ networks.Our dependancy ratio is quite high. Worse still, we have been unable to surmount shackles of parachial tribal mentality. A writer by the name Sunny Bindra said ‘ our problems are ticks in our backs not cancer in our innards.They can be removed.’ I fully concur with him, the future is bright, lets wipe our disillusionment by voting for credible leaders.
One difference between developed and developing countries is accessibility to information. In the former, virtually everybody knows his or her rights…and speaking of rights, voting is one of them but this starts with you registering as a voter. I have been quite surprised by the big number of youths on social media claiming status quo will persist irrespective of whether we vote or not. For once am ashamed of my generation particulary the young and learned. How low can we score? How myopic can we be? How shallow can our reasoning be? In fact I keep asking myself if thats the mentality of the intellect, what of Waìshìgo somewhere in Nyandarua county who didnt attend school or Ewaton who has been a camel herder since his childhood or worse still, that young woman who went through F.G.M and early marriage when she was barely 13 in Pokot. The long and short of my story is that young people should be at the forefront in encouraging everyone to vote. With the vote, we can fight status quo, impunity,tribalism, corruption , bad governance…Lets be counted as citizens who chose to be on the right side of history. Concerns are being raised about the government using the I.E.B.C’s data base to track criminals, if indeed you are law abiding citizen, why should you worry. In any case no one can substantiate this fodder. We have an obligation to rise up to the occassion and shape our destiny, the future is in our hands. We cant afford to sit back and let some people to choose leaders for us in the boardrooms.
If there is one thing that I always draw lessons and inspirations from, then it has to be life. It has made me realise that failure makes one strong, that mistakes are the best lessons, that it is important to value enemies. I have learnt to keep doors open for opportunities, to be open minded, not to wait for the ‘right moment’. I didnt know how important it is to take risks, the good thing with risks is that you lose nothing, infact you save yourself from self critism. I dont know the last time you criticised yourself, I mean we are so good at judging others when we are so worse off. I have learnt never to be apologetic for being me, because there can never be another me. In the spirit of what I call positive self-critism, I draw so many lessons. That am not a perfectionist, that I also have a degree of mediocrity in me. I struggle like everybody else in ensuring that I fix my safety belt when I board a matatu, to always wash my hands, to throw trash in the right place, to speak more solutions than problems, to be more tolerant and patient. What separates me from the many is that, am aware of my flaws and I keep working on them…Can you imagine am yet to register as a voter! Am still figuring out which is the ‘right’ place to register, where I work or home. Speaking of voting, I know of quite a number of people who have given up in participating in elections. Their flimsy excuse is that the same crop of ‘leaders’ wil always win. They dont realise the common mwananch has so much power bestowed in him or her. You not only exercise your democratic right but more importantly have a say for the unborn generations.We have a responsibility of ensuring that all our friends and people around us are registered us voters. In conclusion, I urge all of us to endeavour in liberating ourselves from the mediocrity within. With that, we will certainly make a positive difference in this world that badly needs it.