I have a love-hate relationship with politics.
It’s unthinkable, I know, especially in Kenya, mentioning love and politics in the same sentence. I also have come to realise that, just like pen and paper or Tom and Jerry, politics and love are inseparable. As a matter of fact, from my recent discoveries, love is a political matter. Yes, your ears heard correctly: not a poetical or pontifical but a political matter.
The p-word is not much in fashion these days, and to link it to love seems odd, if only because love is born of comfort and contentment. We all know what love is: If we’re born lucky, love is the cradle of our earliest years. Love is a father watching over a sleeping child; his reassuring voice; the firm clasp of his outstretched hand. Later, love is bound up with desire. Love begins with passionate love; friendship and other attachments, however heart-felt they are, are never quite the same. They rarely become love. I don’t need to tell you just how explosive is the mix of desire and love for another. True lovers make love as if they’re on the endangered species list. Love is longing. It breeds sighs. It burns like fuel in a furnace. Yes, tone deafness is a curse, so here’s a compensating thought: we live in an age when the word love is everywhere, over-used, and misused. We say we love pizza, driving Subarus. We love the beach, football, dancing, coffee, or tea. Don’t forget Hart the band. In one click, you’ll discover dating sites like ‘Coffee Meets Bagel’ that promise dating without love, sexual pleasure without falling in love, Love-Lite we could call it. But love isn’t consumption, or disposable love. Love certainly isn’t narcissism; it is its remedy. Narcissism, self-love, is all around us and that’s partly why love comes gendered, why so many men confuse orgasm with love, and why, it’s said by women I know, men rarely fall in love because too many of them fall asleep first. The fact that love is neither self-love nor self-love times two brings us to politics.
Politics. Did I say I have a love-hate relationship with politics? Yes, sorry about that, I got caught up with love. On a weekend when there are no football games to watch politics, help me pass time. I just love the drama as accusations and counteraccusations are directed to the political players by the opposing players. The dancing and singing that accompany slogans, punchlines and stories are also lovable but that’s it for the love.
You see, I know someone who is planning to run for a political seat in the next election. He seems to be doing all the right things, politically speaking. He is flashy, occasionally shows up at events in a fleet of vehicles, hold much publicised charity events and has been named in a national scandal. He has a few billboards in which half the space is taken by pictures, and they are conversation starters for many residents. Conversations of his flashiness and how he made his money as there seems to be an implied consensus that his chances depend on how much money he can spend and the ‘kahunas’ he knows high above the political party. Sadly, I hear nothing much about his vision and leadership abilities in the conversation. Those who are not in it for the cash are there for ‘their person’. There’s no better thing as having power at home, they all agree. This is where the hate come in. Or am I the only one who seem to have a problem with the way politicians play their cards and voters think along the lines of ethnicity and temporary gains? We don’t necessarily admire them for their leadership skills but more for their politics. We’re obsessed with their gimmicks, punchlines, stories, and that always override whatever they offer in terms of economic and social development.
This is characteristic of the way most Kenyans perceive politicians and end up asking themselves how we end up with so many politicians who do so little for the people. Politicians on the other hand have mastered the art of deceit and divisive propaganda by behaving like horses and working like donkeys. Horses are known for their agility, docility and athleticism- attributes our politicians emulate during elections and in agenda promotion. Whether you want an agile American quarter or a loving and loyal Arabian, our politicians will not disappoint you. Oh, don’t forget the hot-blooded thoroughbreds and the hunting appaloosa. They are a true definition of ‘there for the occasion’ creatures. Did you know that donkeys cannot work beyond midday? Well, now you know, kwani why do you think the owner has to motivate them with strokes at those times. The way these politicians work during campaigns will make you think donkeys are being overworked. The crowds they draw, like horses drawing chariots, don’t just know the amount of hay they carry could feed them for the next five years.
It’s high time we change this political norm. The norm that leads to the perennial challenges we invariably go through every electioneering period. The results are there for all to see – lives lost, livelihoods ruined, businesses devastated, and economy stagnated. By refusing to be mere chariots who cling baselessly to horse and donkeys and start being the masters of the horses. We need peace more than the horses do!
Yes, it’s time to stop taking a racing horse to the hunting field just because we have a connection with them. That way we won’t stop complaining of starvation. We need to be keen on peacefully assigning the horses to their respective duties and not let them turn us against one another. In other words, let politics and love go together as they really are meant to be. Without love, politics is violence against our own countrymen.
While the way you interpret these political cues is your business, let me pursue my initial hypothesis. If the fellows who produce and script entertainment fare for our television stations could stop sleeping on their ears, we wouldn’t be talking about violence after the 2007 events. We know countries who have been through worse situations but due to movies and series based on real life occurrences they don’t want a repeat tragedy.
It’s not too late as already, we have all elements of a great political series in the country. We have developing story lines that, with their latest twists, have viewers on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens next after the BBI reggae was stopped. This indeed is a political thriller with more twists and turns than The Blacklist, The Oval or Mr Mayor. Infuse the political drama with real or stage-managed assassination plots, corruption within government, security establishment subverted to political malfeasance, ties with meddlesome neighbouring leaders and engagements with shady foreign nationals who might be accused of money laundering, arm smuggling or terrorism links, and we have a Riverwood blockbuster, which will embrace peace, love and unity during elections, for Cannes and Oscars.
Pass the popcorn.