I am actually frustrated with the “if the election is not credible, there will be no peace” narrative. But not for the reasons that most think. I’m frustrated because it is simplistic. The problem will not be a botched election.The problem will be that elections were the last option that Kenyans had to finally start the country on a path of social inclusion and dignity for most Kenyans, but the ruling class will have decided to take away even that.My friend Lewis Gordon explains that oppression is the failure of options. To be a slave is to have no options. The slave cannot appeal to courts, to the church, or to the rule of law because the essence of slavery is to not be recognized by these institutions. So the slave has two options: to remain a slave, or to fight back.
Now, we Kenyans have exhausted our options. We did independence in 1963. Then we did multi-party in 1992. The Ndung’u report in 2005. The coalition government in 2008. A new constitution in 2010. TJRC in 2013. In between, we had major incidents of violence which we have never resolved. Kisumu in 1969. Wagalla in 1984. Molo in 1992. Rift Valley in 2008. Assassinations, extra-judicial killings and police brutality. You have to give it to Kenyans. We have tried all the options available. We have written novels and been detained. We have demonstrated and have been tear gassed. Except for 2007, we have voted and accepted results we didn’t believe in. We have asked donors for funds to do activism. Supported the ICC process. But when we allowed Uhuruto on the ballot despite the court indictments, and when the Supreme Court bench walked out of the court after a 10 minute ruling, following an unconvincing victory of the very family we’ve been trying to get out of power all these decades, that was the end of all options except elections.
That was what I was trying to argue when I said “this is what accept and move on means.” Jubilee supporters naively asked us to accept elections as the only option left for change. And not because they really believed that elections would change anything. They already knew elections were not an option, since they gloated about the “tyranny of numbers.” They told us that the Kenyatta family is destined to exploit this country and that there was nothing we could do about it. Not even elections. So if Kenya erupts after the elections, it will erupt because elections were the last option remaining for peaceful change. And we can’t say we didn’t see this coming?