A curious thing happened on the way to here.
As soon as the agreement was signed between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga, the post-election violence changed tense. It moved, decisively, into the past tense. Politicians spoke with feeling about “what had passed” and “the bad things in January.” They reflected, and continue to reflect, about the “dark age” that we had passed through. In soaring rhetoric, they said we had struggled and come out a little wiser, a little better.
We who had not been killed had not died.
In January and February, those who looked ahead, and there were many, worried about the inevitable crises: the country’s grain basket had been robbed and starvation was knocking; many had not yet been re-settled and diseases caused from overcrowding lurked; many had no security and cases of rape mounted. We worried about the lingering ill feelings that could not be mollified by “forgive and forget,” about the temporality of a PEV that seemed past but also seemed so palpable.
In retrospect, it seems we moved from the event of the PEV into the era of the PEV. We begin our public conversations by invoking it. In private, we sharpen our weapons, keep open plane tickets ready, plan to avoid the return of the repressed.
Despite many promises and many speeches, despite political celebrations of our so-called stability, we are on precarious ground, in a period that can best be defined as a crisis. We live in post-election crisis.
What ails us is not idiopathic. This is not an episode of House and we do not need multiple failed tests and genius guesses to diagnose our condition. It is only a willed blindness that forbids us from seeing the national car is still sliding around in the mud, is tilted precariously, and those of us who are not injured cannot avoid trampling on those who are.
We are unstable.
And the old strategies of forgive and forget urged upon us by our leaders can not work. How does one forgive hunger? How does one forget want?
Our cataract-laden leaders continue to invoke 2012, and those with the luxury to do so also speak of 2012, when ineffective leaders will be voted out, when the people’s voice will be heard, when this, all this, will have to change.
2012 is too far away. And the geo-politics of now daily train the hungry and angry about the power of terror, that might is power, and that unkept promises license violence.
Our leaders cannot continue to believe that their paternalistic promises will suffice for the wananchi. And we cannot continue to believe that we have seen the worst we can do to each other.
In this PEV era, the rules change daily, and the choreography of living evades the rules of sociality. The urgencies of now will not wait for those who can to act, and, daily, those who can’t stand ready to explode.
From here, the tropical dusk glows purple and orange, and the blood-red moon draws closer.