Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Kenyan Taxi Drivers take - on politics

I read an article today from Daily Nation's part of it. Although some nations elections are corrupt, it made me wonder...if an African nation does have the liberty of voting in their political party - are they often voting for only loyalty or ethnic reasons? Although we, not being a Third world country, have voted on the basis of trust just the same and some on party loyalty - we also have corruption occuring, maybe not to the severity of some third world politicians.

Question: Do leaders in third world countries understand their own poverty any more than first world country politicians? hmmm...

By Lucy Oriang'Posted Thursday, January 22 2009 at 18:30

In a week when I have some trouble getting around the city of Nairobi, I discover two things. Taxi drivers talk a lot. No subject is taboo. No leader escapes their scathing comments, be it the president and the old guard that surrounds him, or the political wannabes.

It could be just their way of keeping their customers engaged. It could also be that they have a finger on the pulse of the nation. Either way, they keep their customers entertained with their running commentary on the news of the day– proving what I have always suspected: we are a nation of closet politicians.

State House and Parliament had better watch out. In some countries, the general population is obsessed with celebrities, the good life and the latest lifestyle trends. They do not eat, sleep and drink politics — and the misery it brings.

So there I was, heading off to the city centre with Nzikalu at the wheel. Before long, the conversation drifted to the Obama inauguration and the Kenyan connection.
Nzikalu is going on about the virtues of the new president of the United States. I decide to throw a spanner in the works.
“Would you have elected him had he been contesting in Kenya?”
Nzikalu pauses for a moment, and then admits that this would be unlikely. The ethnic issue would arise. And Kenyans do not vote on the strength of manifestoes and commitments to the people. And then, he adds bitterly, they have the audacity to complain when the people they elect do not deliver on the promise.

“The only person I see who comes close to Obama here is lawyer Patrick Lumumba,” he says. “When that man speaks, he does so from the heart, and you can see that he really believes in what he is saying.”

But he stood for election in Kamukunji last time, I point out, and did not come anywhere close to getting the seat. If he is so brilliant and honest, how come he performed so dismally?Constituencies in Nairobi tend to have an ethnic flavour, he fires back, and Kamukunji was always going to go to either a Kikuyu or a Somali.

But that’s Kenya for you. There was a brief window period in the 1960s when the spirit of nationalism ruled the land. If Nzikalu had his way, the present crop of politicians would all go home today, including the three main presidential candidates in the last poll who now share power.

It is a tale of one betrayal after another, he says. You have the politicians on one side, and the people on the other — and their interests do not seem to coincide.

One side seems hell-bent on surviving intrigues and manipulations on the corridors of power. The other just wants to put one foot in front of the other as one crisis rolls into another.
“But what do we expect,” he asks, “of a government that emerged out of bloodshed? It’s a curse. That’s why we seem to come from one problem to another.”

The men in power, he reckons, will never understand what the poor go through just to make a living. If they ever knew poverty, it must be in such a distant past that they have forgotten it.

No comments: