By Wandia Njoya
Mention elections, and Kenyans gather all the bile and vomit they’ve been storing, for God knows what reason, and they pour it on you. If I was to hypothesize here, for example, what a Kivutha Kibwana presidency would look like, and I give different scenarios, Kenyans would ignore every single word I say. Instead, they will tell me why Kibwana won’t run, why he can’t win, who will vote (or not) for him, and call me names like delusional and unrealistic. I won’t have said he will run or that he should run. All I would have done is to imagine a scenario. But daring to imagine that someone other than Muigai could be president is like declaring nuclear war.
The Ruto conversation is the same. People speculate his chances of winning, whether Rift Valley will vote for him or whether Central will or can vote for him. I find such conversations so cliche and so toxic, especially when we all know that winners of elections are not determined by the most votes. We saw it last year. So why is Ruto still a conversation?
The electoral system killed Msando, Pendo and many others, yet we still talk of who will win in 2022? How now?
Elections are as toxic as gambling. Gamblers waste their resources and get addicted to casting bets on games in which they don’t play and on which they have no say. People vote like they bet – they don’t choose whom they want to win, but whom they think has the best chance of winning.
And then people are killed. But in one tweet, we’ll call for justice for Msando, in the next tweet we’ll talk of Ruto’s winning prospects.
I have always cast my vote for whom I want to win, not whom I think has good chance of winning. And I always do it knowing that my vote might be the only one. That’s fine. And that’s an individual matter. The social matter for me is whether the results we get are a true reflection of how people voted. I don’t think they are. And I don’t need to see the numbers. I can just feel it. In 2002, the optimism reflected the result. That has never happened before or since.
If Muigai was as popular as the 2013 or 2017 results said he was, there would have been no need for propaganda like tyranny of numbers or accept and move on. The fact that oaths, Moses Kuria’s threats, Cambridge Analytica and kumira kumira were needed is already a sign Muigai’s didn’t win reflect reality. US embassy cables on Wikileaks keep talking about how unpopular Mama Ngina’s family is. Muigai wouldn’t have bothered with a handshake if he had won. After Maraga cancelled the first result, didn’t he and Ruto go around saying that they got the vote, it’s just that the paperwork to prove it wasn’t there? Where did that arrogance go after October 26?
Muigai knows he has never won. He proves it in every tantrum, every PR gimmick, every woman he supposedly promotes (but won’t implement the two thirds gender rule) and every song that supposedly criticizes him.
But back to this Ruto conversation. I don’t know what purpose it serves except to give us the illusion that we’re discussing politics, when what we’re really discussing is not different from who will win the match between Man U and Arsenal. The role of the media is to keep our attention on the game in which we don’t even play.
And it shouldn’t be that way. We should be talking about candidates we would like to run and win, and what we would need to do for that to happen. Instead, we’re going hysterical predicting which thief is most likely to beat the rest of the pack. We should be thinking about how to pull off an upset better than Jeremy Corbyn’s. Instead, we’re calculating Ruto’s prospects like we’re discussing the team likely to win the World Cup.
And that’s exactly where the Hegemony (church, state, media, school and foreign diplomats) want us. To paraphrase Tweeting Bandit, people are making 70-year plans for Kenya and we’re here playing 5-year games
The Ruto conversation is one bone they keep throwing at us to chew, and we promptly do, instead of getting insulted that they think we Kenyans are dogs.