Kenyans have mastered the art of exploiting politicians as campaigns kick into high gear

We’ve been hoarse for the past few months trying to outdo ourselves to support our favorite candidates. Our social media banter has gotten meaner by the day as we all insist on declaring why our opponents’ picks aren’t ideal.

Politicians reappear from their lairs like termites after the rain to convince us once again why recycling them should be a better idea. They are determined to confuse their constituents and win another five years. We are mesmerized by their roadshows and the colorful t-shirts they give us to advertise their candidacies everywhere in places they will never reach.

It is also this season when they become religious – they will attend different religious functions dressed in humility and praising the god whom the congregation will worship. They will contribute generously to the coffers of the church and will even agree to look into questions of scholarships to educate some underprivileged children.

It’s not that Kenyans are stupid, even our old folks back home have learned the hard way that you can only rely on what you have in your hands. Over the years, they have realized that a politician’s words are like smoke that quickly dissipates in the air.

Like a new lover, they will promise you paradise only to ghost you for the next five years. With this in mind, we have mastered the art of quietly listening and even applauding the false promises of politicians in the hope that there will be handouts in the end.

Voters have become shy lovers who eat out of both pots – they praise you and dance to your opponent. They know too well that politicians’ milk season only comes once every five years and they take advantage of it all too well. They will form chamas with bright goals and seek politicians to support them. They will assure you of their unwavering support, but as soon as you turn your back on them, they will associate with your opponent.

They will look for ambitious young men and fuel in them the desire to join politics, as soon as they smell money on you they will convince you of your leadership qualities that your teachers and parents did not see. As soon as you declare your candidacy, your telephone will ring and your house will be like a church, open to everyone.

Unsolicited advice will come from all quarters as different church leaders will invite you for a special anointing. The suffix “mhesh” will come before your name and you will walk for months in a bubble harboring even greater ambitions for the next season.

But perhaps the best character development comes from mainstream political parties that allow candidates to run just to give the ticket to their cronies. The novice politician will spend money to oil the wrong hands in the party offices and even more in his garden.

Self-proclaimed political analysts will urge him to dig deeper into his pockets as the rewards to come will be pressed, shaken and left to flow. Once the elections are over and his money is exhausted, he will return home alone, embittered, the label “mheshimiwa” fluttering over him like an oversized coat, to find new ways to fend for himself.

The incumbent would have won another term and the Kenyan democracy that looks after the welfare of the tumbocrats would have served its purpose.

Anyway, please don’t let your mother in the village end up in the squad of women who ride boda bodas singing for politicians just to earn 100 shillings at the end of the daytime.


About Oscar L. Smith

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