Events over the past 5 weeks have afforded me much opportunity for introspection. From what I have seen, to what I have heard, to what I have read. I cannot tell a lie. I am deeply affected by the events that took place for the past 5 weeks. I asked what have they done? Almost 4 weeks ago. And it is clear that people just don’t realize what has been done to this country — every time they think they do it gets worse.
This election my M.O. was that I was going to see things for myself and not rely on the traditional media. And so I went out to capture the pulse of the country. Of course, I saw a lot more that I would never have imagined, more intimately than most; because unlike most people
- I actually went to KICC towards the tail end of the announcement that set things off. I fashioned my own Media badge (scrutiny was quite cursory) and took myself there. I saw with my own eyes doctored tally sheets. I saw the infamous 16A and remember laughing outright when the figure the chairman read out was absurdly different from what was on some of the actual forms.
- I actually visited some polling stations and saw clumsy attempts to modify tally sheets
- I actually went out and into the Mukuru slums a couple of days after the residents stoned our houses and forced us into an impromptu curfew. I have seen horrible things and heard horrible tales. I have inhaled quite a bit of teargas and my reflexes to sounds like gunfire have to be seen to be believed.
- I still go out to Mukuru even now. I tell you its one thing to see these people on TV and it is quite another to talk to them and share their experiences.
In fact that is what I think every man and woman of goodwill who is serious about helping should be doing. Personally I think we’ve had enough of these bullshit conferences, press briefings and what nots. Enough of them. The same things are said over and over again. What new things are said? People just go there, make the same old same old bleating for peace, then get into their 4x4s and drive to their cushy estates. I no longer attend these things because I fail to see the value that they add. There comes a point when you must stop talking and start doing.
You can’t appeal for peace on TV. You must do it face to face. So please, spare us these media briefings and press conferences. We can only get peace by making people see sense one at a time. So the more of us that do it, the sooner it will be done.
Some time back I shared my concerns that perhaps the youth have had a hand in the morass this country is currently in. Watching the footage of events in Nakuru and Nyahururu leaves me in little doubt.
Granted, this was started by politicians. The elections were just the flint that set alight the situation. However I refuse to absolve the participants of the mayhem of their share of the blame. The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day you must take responsibility for your actions.
If you threw stones, hacked people, burnt houses or looted then you are also to blame.
If you didn’t throw stones or hack or burn or loot but you spread hate through your blogs, your text messages, your emails and your conversations, please believe you are just as bad as the panga wielding youths. You are equally to blame.
It was absolutely chilling yesterday to watch footage of rowdy youths pulling men out of matatus and proceeding to lynch them.
I have for a long time been opposed to capital punishment. But now I ask myself would I really shed a tear if these murderers and looters in Eldoret. Kisumu, Nakuru, Naivasha, Molo, Kuresoi etc were strung up? I doubt it.
What I want to know is
- Where is the President? Mr Kibaki cannot have it both ways. If he insists he is the duly elected president then it is incumbent upon him to act accordingly. He must not only do something, he must be seen to be doing something.
- Where are our MPs? Why are they all here in Nairobi, and it is on record that they have only done a single day’s work? All MPs should be on the ground in their own constituencies doing their bit to ensure that this madness ends. We’ve had enough press conferences from comfortable hotels saying the same thing. Mr Kibaki should be in Othaya. Mr Odinga should be in Kibera. All their lieutenants should be at their constituencies moving from door to door campaigning for this foolishness to end. I won’t buy any arguments about government having to continue. What is there to govern?
- Where is the Church? I’m not impressed at all by any of the churches in Kenya. The Catholic Church, The Anglican Church, the Islamic community and the Independent churches have been very lethargic indeed. What happened to the men of faith who did not hesitate to speak for the people in word and in deed like Bishops Muge? Okullu? Gitari? Why are their successors so quietly lethargic?
- Why wasn’t the Army deployed in Eldoret 3 weeks ago?
- Kenya is an oasis of peace. Is it now?
- Kenyans are a deeply religious people. I find it difficult to reconcile this alleged deep devotion to The Maker, the innumerable filled churches and mosques and the images of brother turning against brother with crude weapons. It is bandied about that Kenya is 70% or so Christian. If this is so I can see much in the phrase “Jesus wept”.
- Kenya believes in the right of law. The ODM refuses to challenge the elections in court. While I understand their reluctance, it is also scoring an own goal because it can be argued that they are not going to challenge because they know they lost. Impasse right there. Also the PNU allege the ODM also committed electoral malpractice. Why have they not gone to court either?
Fueling The Fire
My attention has been drawn to an online equivalent of a pissing contest. My response is exactly what it was before. There is nothing magical about blogging that absolves you from the responsibility to check your facts before you post them. There is nothing magical about it that makes it okay for you to say as you please without repercussion. Everyone has their own opinions on what blogging ought to be. For some it is a means to diary their exploits. For others it is a cash cow. For others it is a means to build castles in the air. For others it is an opportunity to be big fish in small ponds. For others it is a way to purge their souls. For others it is a way to express their creativity. For others it is a ticket to yet another blogging conference. For others like me — it is a way to express what I happen to be thinking.
But make no mistake about it. Whatever your reasons it is still incumbent upon you to be responsible with whatever you blog. My idea of responsibility is that if you are purporting to be speaking as someone telling people authoritatively what is happening on the ground, you’d best have your facts right as you write. Hoping that it turns out to be true later is not good enough. Hiding behind innuendo is not good enough.
Buzz words like ‘citizen media’ and ‘one man publishing press’ do not change a thing. Neither does pontification from behind podiums at conferences. At the end of the day bloggers are still human beings and must still be held responsible for their words and actions. Whether or not bloggers choose to get lost in their grandiose delusions of grandeur does not change a thing.
A WordPress installation does not exempt you from this any more than a calculator exempts you from knowing how to add.
A cursory glance at blogs today speaks for itself. Just read some of the blog posts that have been written over the past month. A good number make my skin positively crawl. What defence do all the authors of those ridiculous ‘letters’ have? Freedoms are not absolute. They have responsibilities as well.