Friday, May 25, 2007

Lessons from the referendum

Leah Maina on civic education.

In December of 2007, the electorate goes back to the polls this time to decide on who their next governments, both local and central. The danger, again expected and predictable, is that we have learned nothing from the referendum, and that the election will be decided on the basis of voter manipulation especially through incitement against rival ethnic groups. It is a pity that the elements of the victorious multi-ethnic coalition that won the 2002 election have failed the country so badly. Ethnic polarisation, rather than diminish has been enhanced. It is doubtful even that elections are at all helpful in this context, as they serve only to reinforce this animosity and not to promote the wishes of the wananchi. Now, to paraphrase from Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautiful Ones are not yet Born, five years down the line, the opposition is singing the same ‘old songs with the words changed from the old praise of (President Mwai Kibaki) to insults for him. Does the cycle ever end and are elections worth it at all?

Read the rest here.