BY NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU
I am currently going through the process of deciding who I will vote for as President in next year’s general election. Based on the Kenyan context there are several ways I could do this.
If I were an indigenous Kenyan from Eastern province I would most likely want to hear what plans a candidate has towards tackling the unpredictability of food production in my region. I would want to hear something around my water concerns, even if it is just how we will allocate boreholes. I would also want to hear how I can get to do greenhouse farming so that I can feed myself as well as sell my food.
This would also be a concern if I were from the North Eastern part of the country, especially since I feel as if where I come from is not part of the rest of the country. I want a candidate who will, for example, re-classify terminologies that alienate me from other regions: e.g. guarantee me that anyone using force to take my livestock will be charged with the crime of robbery with violence as happens in other areas, rather than be said to have rustled cattle.
If I were from the Coast province my chief concern would be how national resources are allocated. As an indigenous of the region sometimes I would want someone who speaks into my feelings that I feel aggrieved on land and resource distribution issues, from a historical perspective. I believe I would have the same concern if I were from the Rift Valley. I would therefore want a president who will explain to me how he intends to look into these grievances.
If I were from Western province I would want the president to tell me how they will increase the health and education facilities in my region, and jumpstart economic projects that seem to stall according to political positions taken by our leaders. If I were from Nyanza I would be concerned about socio-political and economic inclusion. Over the years it has seemed as if quarrels between the national government and our politicians always translate to my region being isolated from development activities. I would want a president who will guarantee me that this will not happen.
If I was to think as a ‘Nairobian’ I would want to hear about my security and cost of living. If I was to think as someone from the Mt Kenya region I would want a president who will guarantee that my family and I can safely live anywhere in the country, secure from political hooliganism and/or forced dispossession of property.
If I was to think from a religious basis I would want a guarantee that my right to worship will not be infringed on as long as I am not infringing on the rights of others. If I was to think demographics, or physical abilities, or gender, I would want to know that I am a valuable and crucial part of society, and that my input will always be taken seriously. If I was to think based on my class situation I would want a guarantee that access to economic advancement opportunities will always be based on merit.
However, when i consider all these ‘sectarian’ issues I realise that they are actually not sectarian at all. Every Kenyan is concerned about their security, right to work and live where they can, with their human rights respected: or about the cost of living, food security, and right to own property anywhere, etc. We are actually worried about the same things, in different contexts.
So this time around my vote for President will be based on a very personal agenda.
My first and most important requirement is an irrevocable guarantee from the candidate that full implementation of the new Constitution, in the letter and spirit in which I voted for it, will be the top priority of their government.
The second key consideration is a candidate whose primary identity is ‘Kenyan’. I want to see a candidate in whom my ethnic, racial, regional, gender, religious, demographic and class identity expectations & fears are accommodated in a way that they do not threaten and/or alienate those of others of a different persuasion. I want a candidate who champions a common set of values and principles on impunity and corruption that link me to every other Kenyan, whatever their background or status. I want a candidate in whose policies every citizen finds their space and feels recognised, equally..
Finally I want to be inspired. I am therefore looking for a president whose campaign will be based on narratives of aspiration rather than the usual narratives of grievance. This does not mean I do not want my candidate to sort out past issues, but I am young and I want to hear more about what their presidency will do for me in the future.
This is what I define as a Kenyan for Kenya candidate. What will you vote for?