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“The vote of confidence and leadership”
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“The vote of confidence and leadership”

As Kenya’s general elections draw near, Robert Dabaly Jimma, 21, a Correspondent from Kenya, argues that political and leadership spheres are still a man’s society, with chauvinism and restricted upward mobility for women.

Post-colonial Kenya is more a creation of western capitalism than African custom. Independence ultimately led to the cessation of inherited ‘working’ European systems, and the substitution of African systems.

Political cultism is not unique to Kenya. Some African leaders have managed to matrix cultism into a fine art, upon which they bestowed themselves the unquestioned authority of the most powerful chieftains or sultans.

This may make sense in Kenya, where tribal tradition responds to strong central authority. Of course, Kenyans do not expect to be bullied by their government, but do expect their president to exercise a form of authoritarian control associated with tribal chiefs and colonial governors. Anything less is considered a sign of weakness. Consequently, leadership in Kenya operates and lives in a style similar to that of their former white masters. The welfare of the Kenyan people does not generally seem much more important to them than it was to the colonial governors.

The Kenyan and the American dream, like many other ideals, was partly symbolic and partly real. Welfare state measures improve life or the nature of the population. Prior to independence, it was rare to see a pastoralist get a decent job, buy a home, get a car, or send his children to school. A Kenyan layman reaps barely what he or she sows. A Kenyan not living in the spectacle of the foreign transplanted industrial revolution remains in a time capsule presented with neither ennui nor energy; just existence. This seems to solidify the bridge between the pastoralist and the business suits of the Kenyan dilemma. Leaders must be keen to remember that it is the wananchi – the public – who are the unattended patients who die because of unfeasible budgetary allocations and policies. Shortages of food and water, particularly among pastoralist or nomadic communities, is fairly ironic in view of elevated constitutional commitment to such communities.

Lack of social protection can cause unforeseeable and irreparable harm to future generations of Kenyans, and to the State. As Mahatma Gandhi famously stated “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” As Kenyans we need to foster a sense of caring, discipline, and oneness with each other for the sake of humanity in today’s world. We need to embrace secular ethics in order to counter the negative emotions drawn from colonialism, tribalism, and corruption.

Kenyan women are the economic backbone of rural communities, the initiators of social change, and the harvesters of crops. The time has come for the daughters of Kenya to claim their places among leaders of men. They are the hope of a cryin’ nation. A feminisation of the political sphere is not easy, but may be the cure for which the people of Kenya have desperately searched.

photo credit: International Livestock Research Institute ILRI’s Isabelle Baltenweck (left) and other participants via photopin (license)

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About me: I am a law student with a passion for digesting the law and examining its applicability within African social confines. I like using interpretative tools to investigate various legal paradoxes that exist within our immediate society.

My interest pertains to whether autochthonous constitutions have served their role in the empowerment of Africans after the colonial regime.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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