When Egyptians got tired, they turned Cairo into a war zone, lighting such a fire under Hosni Mubarak’s backside that in three few months, he had vacated his seat. And when they didn’t like the new government, they carried their beds to Tahrir, camping there until Muhammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood friends left.
In Tunisia, a tired Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire if only to draw the world’s attention to Ben Ali’s sins – which sacrifice his countrymen honoured when, like deserts locusts, they swarmed Tunis, each armed with a stone and a phone, demanding the old dictator’s ouster. It was matter of weeks before he left, setting in motion the sequence of events we have now come to identify as the Arab Spring.
1968, in Soweto, it was young people under a certain Steve Biko that made the ultimate sacrifice. School children saw guns firing and they walked right into them! They did the same thing to Jean Bedel Bokasa, whose murderous response finally broke of his love affair with France, leading to his removal.
Senior citizens will remember the turmoil of SabaSaba, the incarceration of political figures, and the role the church played in agitating for political freedoms. The release of Koigi wa Wamwere thanks to a spirited women’s initiative, and the beating of Rev Timothy Njoya by riot officers armed to the teeth, are some of the sobering tales that have come to define the Second Liberation. In 2003 Wananchi were arresting corrupt police officers: simply, there was a country and there were people.
Enter 2017, an era when hawk-eyed Kenyans research everything about a scandal on the first day the story breaks then type away their frustrations on Facebook; mellow to sharing memes and making absurd jokes on their plight on day two; in a fascinating twist of amnesia, forget everything in under a week before going back to voting in their tribesmen when elections call. New governments are sworn in with pomp and acclaim only for the monster of graft to rear its ugly head. Before they know it, it’s back to wondering what bewitched them.
Nchi bora siyo bora nchi
But most amazing is how far they’ll go for peace, demanding the head of anyone who questions the status quo and demands justice if it is going to disturb the peace. It’s not exclusively a Kenyan malady though. World over, oppressive regimes will demonstrate their capacity for ruthlessness; condition the people into believing that peace is more valuable than justice then finish off by making the clamour for justice a crime. This is the pillar behind the persisting regimes of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Citizens there know that a vote for anyone else is vote for anarchy. It is this mentality that births slogans like “accept and move on” and “anyway, the most important thing is that we have the maize.” The same mentality that pushes honest, educated, well-meaning Kenyans to share romantic messages of unity where they should be asking questions and doing something that will permanently and positively alter the destiny of their country.
Even the media is drunk; its “peace at all costs”. Those who say “justice at whatever cost” are vilified…called scum…”bad, bad people.” yet as the great teacher Machiavelli taught, periods of peace are nothing but empty pages of history. If Kenya is to move, her people must embrace justice, for where there is justice, there is true peace and where there is true peace, there is prosperity. Look at the West… Nchi bora siyo bora nchi.
Think of Sharrif Nassir, William ole Ntimama, Daniel Moi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, JM, Koigi et al… there was a time when, good or bad, politicians stood for something. One had to be for unitary government, regionalism, multipartysm or expanded state to stand any chance of a successful career. Apart from Odinga, Koigi and two or three others, the current breed consists of nothing beyond intellectual prostitutes who will sleep with whatever side, in whatever way and for whatever price, sometimes even for nothing at all. And this is the breed that the people, even the learned folk, worship.
The message is not for Kenyans to storm the capital with sub machine guns, bullet strips and hand grenades. Simply, they should stay angry a little longer… civil disobedience. What if Brother Atwoli called on workers to boycott duty “until NYS suspects were brought to book?” What if good Dr Oluga Ouma asked doctors to abscond duty “until the faces behind the maize scandal are named?” What if athletes said they wouldn’t represent the flag until the Rio Crisis was dealt with? Or if lawyers ceased representation until the Director of Public Prosecutions is replaced? Or if perhaps the media gave people of bad character a blackout instead of this bad joke of a debate?
They would surely notice. But until then, let’s stop pretending that we are tired. If we were, it would certainly manifest.