Aggressive politics holding us back

Deputy President William Ruto supporters countering protests against the DP in Kisii Town on September 9, 2020.

Photo credit: Ruth Mbula | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • This year’s Safari Rally has since been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  •  The falling-out rumours between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto do not augur well for the country. 
  • Our politicians are such an angry lot and their style and tone of communication is aggressive.

It is IAAF’s athletics Diamond League season and I am binge-watching athletics as the competition moves from country to country. Kenya, whose nationals are the star attraction in most of these events, has never had the opportunity to host one. Indeed, none has been hosted in Africa except in Rabat, Morocco.

Countries with no pedigree in athletics are now queueing up to host it. I have no idea what the criteria are for picking the hosts but many are not hosting it because they have pool of talent in athletics. Take Qatar, for instance. It has leapfrogged many countries to become a superpower of sports hosting. Qataris are not known for producing outstanding athletes in any field. Even Mutaz Barshim, the poster boy of Qatari Athletics, is of Sudanese origin.

Before the ban on athletes switching nationalities, Arab countries ‘bought’ athletes from other countries, including Kenya, to boost their chances of winning. Poverty and our lax sense of patriotism meant it was easy for others to poach them.

But Kenyan athletes are missing out on the greatest opportunity to compete with their global compatriots in a local Diamond League event at home. Where else would the event deserve to be than at the home of champions that is Kenya? Such an opportunity would be immense boost for the tourism industry and the economy. However, the forever palpating political activities leave little room for imagination.

Toxic politics

There is so much politics that one is now left wondering what good it is for the country if we even fall behind in areas that we should be leading the world, such as in athletics. I am not just talking about leading the tables at World Championships but playing a leading role in just about any athletics competition. Instead, we took to toxic politics and doping and risk destroying one of our treasured events.

But it was encouraging to see Safari Rally return to the World rally Championship (WRC) calendar after 18 years. Just like today, our bad politics of the ’90s played a huge role in diminishing this annual event with a stellar cast of international rally drivers taken on the toughest terrains in Kenya.

 It was a true battle of man versus machine that left Kenya basking in its glory. Then it got killed by politics. Kenyan sports journalist Roy Gachuhi better sums up our failures at losing the hosting of Safari Rally: “We failed to build on a great heritage, and we are the poorer for it.”

This year’s Safari Rally has since been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, like many other development opportunities, it is now facing threats posed by early political campaigns that have the potential of leading to further violence given the tension between the various political factions.

 The falling-out rumours between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto do not augur well for the country either. Cabinet secretaries are not helping the matters by joining political fray. They should be more concerned with articulating development policies, including showcasing the country.

Constantly bickering

Ugly will never be beautiful. Our politics is so ugly that, if it were the typical marriage material looked for in an African woman, she would need a glittering personality instead to find a suitor. Our politicians are such an angry lot and their style and tone of communication is aggressive, to say the least. We repel the world by constantly bickering and infighting. We risk throwing away opportunities and goodwill offered to us by other countries by failing to manage our politics well.

Politics does not mean blood on the floors or name calling. It does not mean enhancing corruption and being tribal either. No wonder, institutional failures have become the norm due to toxic political atmosphere that engenders corruption. We are now forced to turn to the armed forces to manage institutions that, in a stable political environment, should run smoothly.

We have now seen what it entails voting in academic fraudsters, convicts and aggressive individuals, which is ineptitude, embezzlement and shooting in night clubs. Chapter six of the Constitution has got a battering from the political parties and selection panels as they give clean bill of health to all manner of dubious characters. Government by crooks for crooks is not attractive. It is time we started to run in the right direction towards winning investments. But that starts with peace.

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Holding political rallies in this pandemic has exposed our leaders as careless, selfish and lawless. To gather masses of people with no masks and social distancing measures in place amid the deadly coronavirus amounts to manslaughter. If politicians can gather people to their deaths for selfish reasons, what would stop them for unleashing terror on opposing sides?

Enough of chaos. Given our penchant for violence, political campaigns should be strictly moved to TV addresses and social media platforms. Banning political campaigns until election time would be better.

[email protected] @kdiguyo