A few days ago, Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote that the real winner in the recent presidential elections was Daniel arap Moi.
How right he was; but even he could not have guessed how soon Nyayo tendencies would re-emerge.
The Moist script is familiar; and for those of us who cut our teeth opposing dictatorship in the 1980s and 1990s, it is eerie. It starts with controlling messaging so that the dominant voice is one of suppression and censorship: The less people know, the better.
Our press fell into that trap a few weeks ago, suppressing any voice, image or fact that would expose the IEBC and the shambolic way it conducted the polls. So much so that it was praised for “being responsible,” in much the same way Moi regularly praised the Voice of Kenya and Kenya Times.
Then, unable to control the foreign press that was the only source of credible and accurate information, government operatives turned to threats.
This was a common tactic in the Moi years, when a number of foreign journalists were deported for critical reporting. Many were harassed and threatened openly.
Following this, we hear loud lamentations for peace and “moving on” despite the fact that the election process will only be concluded when the Supreme Court decides on cases before it.
This is reminiscent of Moi’s infamous slogan of “peace, love and unity” and his constant reminders that we should be grateful that we were not Somalia, Ethiopia or Sudan and Uganda even as repression, corruption, and impunity went on unhindered, benefiting a select few.
A major part of the Moi script was the obvious and pre-emptive presence of armed police, ready to pounce on people perceived to challenge his authority. It was one way of intimidating the populace.
The scenario has begun replicating itself. From the time election results were announced, armed police on lorries are everywhere, including Supreme Court premises. We are now not sure if these are the reforms Chief Justice Willy Mutunga would like to be associated with, especially given his well known mantra that these are “people’s courts.”
This show of force is intimidating, yet there are other subtle ways of ensuring security.
And then there is that well rehearsed song that anyone with a view that contradicts the dictator’s is “dancing to the tune of foreign masters.” The underlying message is that Kenyans can’t think for themselves and need the help of aliens.
If you don’t accept the leaders thinking for you, then it must be that it is foreigners thinking on your behalf. How insulting!
In the Moi days, it was JJ Kamotho, Oloo Aringo, Shariff Nassir, Kariuki Chotara, Ezekiel Barngetuny and their ilk parroting this song. It is now done over cyberspace but it is the same tune. It is more insidious now, with the use of titles like “evil society” that parallel the “inyenzi” or cockroaches that Hutu killers used to describe the Tutsi in Rwanda before embarking on a murderous spree.
And there is the familiar trooping to pledge loyalty to the King even before he is crowned, with all manner of smaller parties begging to be brought into governing fold so that they too can eat. This is touted as encouraging “unity” but as we discovered these past five years, lack of opposition only fosters corruption, sleaze and more decay.
The worst is the brazen violation of our Constitution and international human rights law with the supposed banning of public meetings and protests by functionaries and bureaucrats who claim to be impartial but act more like party hawks for the dominant group.
These statements should forewarn us about the sort of regime we should expect: repressive, non-accountable, disrespectful of the constitution and the law and one that will not brook criticism or independent thinking. It is moving forward to the well known Moist past.