Kenyan youth exemplify ‘the wretched’ of Africa’s electoral political processes

A country can be estimated to be politically or democratically developed by looking at the quality of its politics, media freedom, freedom of speech, indiscriminate rule of law, good state of human rights, good ecological and social environment and gender rights and mainstreaming

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TNA supporters are pictured here waving a poster of Uhuru Kenyatta outside a CORD Coalition rally in Embu town on February 15th 2013. Embu town is a strong support base for Uhuru Kenyatta and his supporters took offence at statements made by politicians during the CORD rally.

By Alexander Opicho

It is Paul of Tarsus that first used the words “scum of the earth” when he was describing the powerless communities during the times of the early church. Paul’s language in describing the poor had been obviously influenced by the deep study of Aristotle and other supplies of Greek philosophy, Roman law and the study of Jewish legal-political organisation. These statements of Paul have had spiritual and philosophical as well as revolutionary effects on the latter generations across different cultures. For example, literary psychology tells us that Jagjit Singh’s title of his play Sweet Scum of Freedom and Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of Earth are revolutionary overtones of Pauline Consciousness in relation to class and power in society.

Personally, I am also tempted to look at nature of electoral politics in Africa as a social contest by examining Kenya’s general elections in 2017 using Fanonian analysis. Unfortunately, if Fanon were alive today, he would have obviously premised that the youth in Africa are nothing other than the wretched of electoral politics, but with reasons. The first reason is given in the example of current social experiences by the youth during general Kenya’s elections in 2017.

For example, during the campaigns for the elections, the main political parties in Kenya re-organised themselves for electoral competition to garner different political positions two years before the election date. The candidates for key positions and presidential flag-bearers for different parties and different regions, as well as communities, were all rich men. There was no youth or woman that managed to participate in the election as a presidential candidate or as a running mate to the presidential candidate. The youths and women have all been socialised to a fallacy that serious political positions are a strict reserve for men – not only men, but also rich and averagely old men. The reason is obvious – a persistent culture of strongly entrenched social patriarchy.

In The Politics of Betrayal, Joe Khamisi narrates that women and youth are most excluded from socialising in the mainstream politics, even as it is estimated the youths form over sixty per cent of the total population of forty million (forty five now) Kenyans, followed by women. It means that of the youth and women make three quarters of the registered voters.

The current position is that patriarchy has made politics and governance the reserve of old rich men from specific families, a situation which makes the best example of modern patriarchal aristocracy of some kind thriving on social injustice to the humble. This is palpable when one looks at a fact that the current political leaders have been there for the past three decades and above. Most of them come from families that collaborated with colonial governments, or from the families that served in the government of Jomo Kenyatta regime, as well as serving the tyrannical dictatorship of Daniel Moi. The regimes of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi supported social patriarchy and hence planted the spirit of marginalisation of women and youth. This is very evident in the…

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