Leaders We Want, Leaders We Get

As the talks in plush rooms continue to continue, with old snags reappearing and new ones being created, I must confess that I continue to lose confidence in our so-called leaders. Were the delays a result of negotiations that would transform the country by, at the very least, outlining the terms for a new constitution and, more practically, creating necessary plans to cope with the IDP population and planning for the anticipated drought, I might be on board. From where I sit, they have little to do with Kenya and a lot to do with the various cults of personality.

While I am convinced that a Kibaki presidency will be good for Kibaki, and I am equally convinced that a Raila presidency will be good for Raila, I am yet to be convinced that either one will be good for Kenya.

We will, I suspect, be stuck with leaders who mistake the fact of their power for the welfare of the country. We will be stuck with leaders who believe their personalities can and should unite the country. We will be stuck with leaders who, having sacrificed many lives in their quest for leadership, will continue to sacrifice many more in their quest to remain leaders.

Perhaps the most absurd aspect of our future leadership is that, no matter what compromise is achieved, it will have been confirmed, if it was ever in doubt, that we live in an oligarchy. What is tragic at the moment is that we have been pinning our hopes on a process that concentrates power in the hands of a few individuals, no matter their “plans” for devolution of power. I’ll believe that when I see it.

I am yet to be inspired by either one, yet to be convinced that either one stands for the kind of change we need and want. I am yet to be convinced that either Kibaki or Raila is post-tribal, post-ethnic, and pro-Kenya, pro-wananchi.

I want to be convinced. I want to believe. I want to join the program.

But it seems the program has not been printed, the printer ran out of ink, someone forgot to order paper, the text was found to be plagiarized, and the invited speaker has laryngitis. This is what more savvy minds than mine call a “cartoon.”

I am especially concerned by the macho, masculine posturing that has reminded us, all too palpably, that Kenyan politics is a tennis match between patriarchs. If we thought that the days of “mzee” and “baba” were gone, we have been told to think again. Our new patriarchs may not adopt titles, but they are all man all the time. The pissing contest has left us all stained.

In the next few days or weeks or months, we will have leaders, to be sure. Whether they are the leaders we want, the ones we deserve, or even ones we can respect remains to be seen.

Keguro Macharia is a member of the Concerned Kenyan Writers.

2 thoughts on “Leaders We Want, Leaders We Get

  1. Interesting what you say about patriarchs but we must still make space to understand the place and roles of Karua and Ngilu.

    While many want to dismiss them as honorary men, I think there is much to be said about the slow evolution of Kenyan politics to include women and women on different sides of the spectrum.

    I personally find their participation in politics refreshing. Scary as Karua’s politics are.

  2. I keep thinking that Gertrude Stein’s “Patriarchal Poetry” is more than fitting for now.

    Of course, from my perspective, patriarchy has little to do with biology. While I would not term Karua and Ngilu “honorary men” (and really, where’s the honor?), I do think they do little to advance women’s roles in politics, especially with their ridiculous power moves (I’ll get you votes if . . . Ngilu).

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