MICHAEL CHERAMBOS

By MICHAEL CHERAMBOS
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The media headlines in recent days should be extremely worrying for every Kenyan.

A vicious succession battle is taking shape, reminding us of our not so distant past when Kenyans would shed blood at our leaders’ behest.

For far too long, many of our so-called leaders have excelled in one area, incitement to violence.

While they should have been running the country with the people’s interest at heart, many were too busy using us, the masses, as tools in their bloody “game of thrones”.

Power was the goal, and violence was the tool.

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However, in recent years, thanks in large part to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s vastly different approach, Kenyans are more likely to use their hands to shake that of another in warm embrace, than to clench a fist or wield a weapon.

The President showed Kenya a different way, and through his outreach to political opponents and such projects as the Building Bridges Initiative, introduced a post-conflict narrative to a Kenya that was deeply divided.

In our political system, we are inching towards the halfway point of Uhuru’s second and final term as President of the Republic of Kenya. This has meant that issues of succession are suddenly appearing everywhere.

Almost every issue raised in public forums is about positions ahead of the elections in 2022.

Some, who see themselves as potential aspirants, are starting to pull the ethnic genie out of bottle and making sure that parts of their voter base are constantly enraged by events taking place around them.

They create a story or event that ensures outrage, place themselves as a victim at the centre of the narrative and fashion an enemy to finish off their masterpiece. We have seen this direction taken far too many times in the past and we know where it ends.

Under this presidency, tribe and politics are, for the first time in our nation’s history becoming disentangled and Kenyans were starting to focus on the issues rather than focus on the ethnicity on any issue.

This is an extremely positive development and demonstrated the maturing of our body politic.

Most people in democracies throughout the world put worldview before identity, and ideology before tribe, whether actual or manufactured.

This is a vital development because it means that politicians now have to work harder to earn our support and trust and not just rely on our ethnic bonds or blood ties.

An aspirant at any level should receive our vote on the basis of their ideas, record and achievements. Their platform, not their ancestry should persuade or dissuade us to cast our ballot for them.

While using tribalism is so easy for a would-be aspirant, it relies on us to render our head secondary to our heart.

We have to decide whether we allow ourselves and our loved ones to become pawns in a potentially bloody struggle that will not benefit us one iota. In fact, the reverse is true. Allowing ourselves to get caught up in more bloodshed hurts us as a nation and as individuals.

It creates animosity between people of varying backgrounds, it hurts our relations with the outside world, and we start to sink back into being a Third World country.

Over the last few years, we worked so hard to become a lower middle-income nation and Kenya is rising on all development indexes, and while the situation is far from perfect, it is inarguable that we are not witnessing development and progress over the last few years that would have been unthinkable a decade or more ago.

So, let’s let our heads rule our hearts and say a definitive no to any politician who tries to manipulate and abuse our proud tribal heritage for their personal gain.

Let’s punish those who care less if our blood is shed as long as they gain the power they thirst.

We can remove the power they think they have over us with simple and unaggressive resistance, either at the ballot box and just simply not taking their poisonous bait.