We must not allow leaders to misuse us to quench their political thirst

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I once lived in Kayole in a dingy one roomed house in a flat that was built near the road. It’s either that my neighbour hated hygiene or she had a rodent farm in her house. Because the door that separated our rooms had an opening that would make sure that rats migrated from her house and immediately camped in my house when I left for work. They would thoroughly enjoy themselves over a buffet meal from the meagre foodstuffs I left in the house. When I came back, I would nurse fatigue from a long day and also have to deal with frustrating and disrespectful rats.

In the morning, we would be woken up by blaring horns from matatus as the conductors called out passengers.

The toilets in the flat had long run out of the water and so we even forgot how to flush a toilet.

The wall of the bathroom was full of algae, mould and the kind of filth that if you dare touch it with any part of your body by mistake, you would bathe in a bucket full of a strong disinfectant for a week to feel clean again. However, the sure way to deal with the filth would have been to get a skin grafting procedure on the affected part.

I would wake up early in the morning to catch the 5am bus so that I could pay Sh20 to town, remaining with a balance of Sh30 out of my day’s budget allocation of Sh50.

The food was a luxury and desperation in abundance.

The story of many Kenyans isn’t different either. Many are hungry, humiliated, struggling, and caught between a rock and a hard place. The future is bleak and hope a precious commodity.

Yet members of the political class are fat. Their children are spoilt for choice in the areas of education, health, work, networks etc. As they ask what shall we eat, the children of the poor ask when will they eat. As the political class swims in affluence, majority voters who are poor literally swim in filth.

The children of the poor have odds stacked against them as the children of the rich hobnob with the high and mighty in restaurants, schools, workplaces among others that have abundant options and are out of reach of the poor people.

What is really shameful is our goldfish memory.

On Wednesday in Kisumu, we saw a group of young people heckle Deputy President William Ruto in a rally. The unfortunate event, like a strong monsoon wind, had travelled to Kabarnet where the NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga and other principals were equally heckled in what looked like revenge motivated. According to interviews carried out by some media houses, the Kabarnet incident was blamed on the heckling of Ruto in Kisumu.

It pains me that we, the majority who share the same fate of lack, must pick up arms, fight, kill each other and rot in the street for the power thirst of the political class to be quenched.

How is it that we forget so easily? How is it that the blood of over 1,200 people who died during the shameful period of 2007/2008 post-election violence (PEV) is not sacred enough to remind us of the deadly consequences of politics of division?

People are still nursing emotional wounds that haven’t healed from that shameful period. IDPs who lost their property and were displaced from their homes are still recovering yet reckless politicians from both political divides spew hate for the sake of numbers.

Dear Kenyans, we must stay vigilant. We must not allow the politicians to divide us. We are not voting for NASA or Jubilee. We are not voting for Raila or Uhuru in the August polls. Though the temptation to turn this into a tribal fight is high, we must summon patriotism from the depths of our heart.

We are voting for the future of our children who need quality and affordable primary and secondary education.

We are voting for food security so that no Kenyan can die of hunger again. We are certainly voting for unity to ensure that every part of this country receives the National cake.

An attempt to steer it into the murky waters of ethnicity must be rejected by Kenyans of good will. Any attempts to convert this election into an Odinga vs Kenyatta duel must be rejected with the force of a hundred angry rhinos.

I’m not shocked that 2017 politics is on the path of being a contest of settling old scores between two founding families. What’s unfortunate is that we as the citizens have signed a pact with our blood to join the bandwagon and cheer on our tribal kingpins as they engage in this personality contest.

It’s heartbreaking that less than 25 days to the elections, we are seeing a dominant attitude of ‘we must win regardless of the how.’

The writer is a reporter at Capital FM and a political commentator. Follow him on Twitter @dannishodongo 

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