Listen to Us

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua are outraged. They have made speeches and written statements. They claim to share our frustration. Here’s my advice.

Stop talking. Stop issuing statements. Stop making speeches.

Listen to us.

Don’t show up in helicopters or in an entourage or in fancy cars. Don’t show up with the press. Don’t show up with microphones. Don’t make a production of yourselves. Don’t call big, fancy meetings. Don’t make our lives into an excuse for you to express your frustrations and score cheap political points.

Get cheap notepads and pens. Travel around the country. Go to those places whose names you know and the ones you don’t. Sit in cheap classrooms that sway when the wind blows. Sit outside under trees. Share home food, not food for visitors. Stop in the fields where women are working. Stop at kiosks where out of work young men hang out. Get out of your cars and walk for an hour with pastoralists.

Don’t talk. Don’t propose an agenda. Don’t tell us your vision.

Listen to us.

Don’t interrupt. Don’t ask us what we want. Don’t interview.

Listen to us.

Listen.

Listen.

At the end of each session, pledge to continue listening. Nothing else.

Dare to become leaders who learn from your fellow citizens.

3 thoughts on “Listen to Us

  1. Not if only.

    As silly as it might seem, I refuse to embrace the cynicism that masquerades as wisdom and poisons our political life. Why do we already give up before we try?

    I throw the challenge back to you: if you don’t like the situation, what are you doing about it?

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