Kenyan voters not intelligent, says expert

July 11, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11 – University of Nairobi Sociologist Ken Ouko is blaming the ‘gullible nature’ of the Kenyan voter for the recurring political problems in the country.

Dr Ouko says despite the Kenyan voter being educated and exposed, they lack the basic intelligence required to elect the right representation in parliament.

“While we might say we are largely an elected populace I’m not sure we are political savvy or as intelligent as we should be in picking our politicians,” he stated and observed that Kenyan voters lack a nationalistic nature, forgive and forget quickly, thus explaining why they re-elect the same politicians who have previously failed them.

They (voters) are gullible, easily swayed and have transformed our electoral process into more of  a commercial one and therefore when our politician uses money to buy an audience we all follow, Dr Ouko explained in an exclusive interview with Capital News.

He noted that the Kenyan voter population is one that forgives and cleanses sins of the political class very easily.

“We should find a way and a system of barring politicians who have previously failed us and committed atrocities like they do it in America and Europe,” said the don adding: “2002 and 2007 we recycled them and see nothing has changed; they have just perfected the art of warring, complaining and bickering.” 

He said unlike in the past, voter education should focus more on how to vet leaders as opposed to encouraging more people to vote.

The sociologist noted that the situation has been exasperated by a poor legal system and collapsed institutions that allow the re-election of leaders who do not deserve to get back to office.

This is notwithstanding deep-rooted ethnicity that makes the Kenyan voter opt for tribal allegiance as opposed to performance oriented leaders.

“What this does is create a problem when deciding on who has won the election as you have disputes running through the blood as opposed to the vote,” he observed.

The University of Nairobi Sociologist pointed out that this is what differentiates Kenyans from their African brethren like Ghana and Nigeria, where despite the closely contested elections they managed to sort out their problems without degenerating to violence.

He observed that the generational transfer of political power within families does not make situations better.

“We have this thing we can call generational sycophancy which is also like a royal transfer of power out of pity which has played a very dangerous part, thus making us elect either a man or a woman just because the individual holding office before was their kin.”

The sociologist is proposing a change in the kind of voter awareness programs that are carried out in the country.

He says the church should be the institution to lead this campaign assisted by Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) since the political class has failed in this mandate.

In the meantime Dr Ouko is calling on the Kenyan voter to embrace a complete generational change that will include the kind of politician they elect, the institutions they want created and legal reforms.

“A revolution like the one in Chad and most recently in the Ukraine would have been the ideal solution but I don’t think the Kenyan voter is ready for that,” Mr Ouko said.


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