The year is winding down after months of what has been termed ‘a wind of change’ sweeping across the Arab Peninsula. We found ourselves hoping that the wind would blow southwards pat the Sahara but around here it’s business as usual. In Syria, hundreds are still being targeted by their government for speaking out. Egypt’s Tahrir Square is still occupied for fear of having the gains of the Arab Spring swept away by the military.
Here at home, the situation was different. The Social networks were abuzz with chatter. Maybe we should follow the lead shown by our northern neighbours. Maybe our Kenyan spring should spill out to the streets. But it was limited to walls on facebook and among the twitterati. The closest we got was in February when we got out to sing the national anthem. Since then, initiatives have come up and then fizzled out like a wet matchstick.
The set of circumstances surrounding the Arab world are vastly different from the Kenyan situation. We are not governed by military dictators and our media is free to report on whatever happens within and past our borders. Compare that to Iran whose population is scarcely aware of the Arab Spring and then it looks like we have it pretty good. And therein lies our problem. We are ok with mediocrity. We got rid of Moi and whatever alternative we got became just fine. The literary simile is Oliver Twist’s comrades at the orphanage. They wouldn’t ask for more and neither will we.
So we sit and talk. Things have changed. Then we watch while the same constitution is used to wipe away gains. We are a sovereign nation. But not when Sudan’s Bashir wants to come hang out at State House. The judiciary is independent only when the executive agrees and when it doesn’t piss off our honorable members. But still we talk. In hushed tones. Hiding behind the key strokes and the monitor. Don’t rock the boat. Things could be worse.
I’m tired of the talk. Of the panel discussions. Of the ideals on democracy and the NGO-speak on things like ‘capacity building’ and ‘governance structures’. I don’t doubt that they may ultimately serve a function but then that means very little when we have a year to the next polls. So we turn it back to the very source of democracy. That single person. That single vote. I refuse to refer to myself as a ‘common mwananchi’. What does that make them? Special?
So what is my contribution? We need a single voice. The post-elections violence affected us as a nation. The hard economic times assault us a single unit. Kenya. I’m seeking a single voice. A Kenyan one. When doctors and teachers go on strike, we are all affected. My friend is somewhere in KNH right now needing medical attention while my high school friend who is now a doctor, is on strike. Yet neither of them is at fault. One’s livelihood is in danger, the other’s life hangs in the balance.
It’s no longer about ODM vs PNU vs UDM or Raila vs Ruto vs Uhuru. It doesn’t matter which side you are on. It’s about the governed standing up to the governors and speaking out in one clear voice. One Vote. One Voice. We are waiting to send some of them home during the next elections but first we must voice what we want. What we expect. What we deserve. Add your voice to this. We can make up a list and come up with a petition of sorts. Push the ‘One Vote’ agenda till we see some results. What’s your addition? Spread the message. Add your voice.