Thursday, 24 December 2009
POLITICAL DISAGREEMENTS NEED NOT POLARIZE KENYAN COMMUNITIES
The cycle of politically instigated tribal animosity appears forever destined to stalk Kenyans if the elected leadership remains hell-bent on preying on the vulnerabilities of a desperate electorate.
The differences in the ODM party are now spilling over to the general populace and perhaps not surprisingly, leaflets have surfaced in the larger Kericho area, threatening members of one community with dire consequences if they don't vacate.
In an awfully familiar pattern, the targeted community happens to be the same one that the Prime minister belongs to, and is a reaction to the concerted efforts of the PM to reclaim the plundered Mau forest, which has not exactly endeared him to the elected leaders of Rift Valley province.
So now the differences in a single political party, could possibly be escalated to spread hatred amongst ethnic blocks, in a country still trying very hard to heal wounds brought about by the 2007 post election violence.
First-hand brush with political hegemony in Kenya
In the last General Election, I happened to have been based in Kericho town, from where I would file results of an ODM sweep in the South Rift region.
As is mandatory, every story I did would be accompanied by a piece to camera that served to establish my actual presence in the area.
Little did I know that this routine bit of my professional duties as a television reporter would be the cause of so much trauma.
When the violence erupted, somebody rethought about the name of the person filing reports to Nairobi, from Kericho, and concluded I was an outsider.
And that person eventually ended up banging at my hotel room door, demanding that I go back to Central Kenya.
Had my employer not hired this helicopter to quickly rescue me and my crew from the deteriorating situation in Kericho then, I'm not sure we would have made it out safely.
The need to contextualize political feuds
When the press then, covers such political fall outs that threaten to interfere with the peaceful co-existence of different ethnic communities it should be necessary to put everything in the right perspective.
In its online edition, the Daily Nation report on a Cabinet minister from the area condemning the attacks does not even draw a correlation between the community being asked to leave and the PM's altercation with a section of Rift Valley legislators.
There is a slight possibility of fanning the tension and alarming the affected residents but at least they would at least be able to make sense of the origin of their predicament, if they didn't know already.
And by extension, Kenyans can be rallied to oppose the perennial tendency of politicians to use them to settle their own battles of supremacy.
And isn't that what any responsible media should be doing?