A widely held belief across many societies is that in any democratic system, the leaders are often a reflection of the people who voted them into power. A former Kenyan President (not the best of leaders the country had though), often said that ‘Siasa mbaya, maisha mabaya’. This loosely or literally translates into 'Bad politics always translates into or leads to a life of destitution for the people’. Many people would agree with such sentiments and would always remind each other whenever the leaders they choose at every election period fall short of expectations. But, in countries where the majority usually have their way (or carry the day), with the minority having a say (insignificantly so), people do not always get the leaders who have their interests at heart.
In Kenya, for instance, voting along tribal lines is as old as anyone can remember and I think it will take more than rhetoric if such sad trends were to change. This technically means that communities with larger populations often have their way in voting in the leaders however inexperienced, inept, unpopular, corrupt or egoistic such leaders are. Such voters sort of impose ‘bad’, ‘unpopular’ or ‘selfish’ leaders on everyone else, even if such leaders were to lead everyone else into pits of destruction, destitution or even warfare.
Presently in Kenya, most of the top leadership in the country came to power due to what many say was the ‘tyranny of numbers’ of the major tribal groupings. This means that however ostracized they were, and with perhaps, the least interest of the people’s welfare at heart, they still rose to power simply because they come from large tribal alliances. And, the theatrics the country has been treated to have is unprecedented such as never experienced Kenya attained independence in 1963. Corruption and theft of public funds have reached astronomical levels never before heard of. The height of impunity exhibited by the political class and their cronies has been second to none.
This has always gotten me thinking. When the people vote in leaders because of tribal inclinations and not on the basis of integrity, honesty and dedication to service, all they get are mediocre services. They are treated to one corruption scandal after the other. They suffer because of the collapse of critical services such as healthcare, education and security are the least of their worries. They are always treated to hate speech, incitement and acts of impunity such as the disregard for the rule of law, undue witch hunt of rivals or critics. They get away with virtually any sort of criminal activity. Such leaders are a true reflection of the people who voted them into power. And, when they start engaging in all manner of disrepute, the very people who voted them into power should not complain but ‘suffer in silence’. They should suffer in silence until they can take it no more. That is when they would realize that they need people of integrity and those who have the interest of the man on the street at heart. This is when they will start voting based on issues rather than on the basis of tribal groupings. This is when, perhaps, a country such as Kenya, which is in deep pain from decades of political abuse, will start to heal.
Kenya needs leaders whose leadership will transcend beyond tribe or region and who will deliver the fruits of development and inclusion the country has missed out on in the last 50 years. The country needs leaders who will be responsive to the fight against corruption and not just merely be talk shops like is the case now. Kenya needs leaders who will not be held hostage by corruption or land grabbing cartels and those who will not fall into the traps of rent-seekers. The country needs radical leaders who will deal once-and-for-all with known or suspected drug barons who are slowly killing a future generation with narcotics. Kenya needs leaders who will adhere to the rule of law even if they are the very ones who are on the wrong side of the law.
Image credit: Daily Herald.