Since the eruption of the protests in Tunisia which toppled the former President for life Zine El Abidine Ben Ali there have been calls on twitter for Kenyans to take on streets and do something similar. Demonstrations and protests. To be precise some are asking why can’t Kenyans do the same thing, yet we have same problems as our brothers and sisters from the north. High unemployment rates, corruption, food inflation and many more. So the idea of Kenya Feb 28 came up, a day that people would go to the streets and demonstrate. I am not sure who started it but i know it failed without taking off. The reaction to it on twitter was fast and furious. Marked by name calling, insults, and it reached a point, i just had to log off from twitter. Yeah Facebook welcomed me back with two hands and even legs . So what really went wrong with the idea of KenyaFeb28? Here some of the reasons according to me:
1. Kenyans have been there, seen it all and done it all. Remember 1991-92, then came the big one where Moi was evicted from State house in 2002. When things did go as expected in 2007 again Kenyans were on the streets in 2008. So the notion that Egypt and Tunisia are having a sweeter protests and demonstrations is somehow misguided. Truth be told Egypt and Tunisia are 20 years behind Kenya.
2. Moi ruled Kenya for 24 years and he is the last do so regardless. Now we have elections after every five years and the current Government has only one year to go. If you are tired of whatever you are tired of when comes to the current Government then you just have to wait and vote them out next year. Now any argument otherwise is not making sense unless there is another agenda apart from democracy. The young people who think they can lead should come up with a plan on what they will do for people. What will be different, how they will eradicate poverty, how you will tackle corruption, how you will create jobs, how you will tax people and what you will do with it, the vision for schools, health care programs . Present that to the people and let them discuss the merits, refine and sell it, kama wewe tosha tutakupigia kura.
3. What is going on in Tunisia can easily be replicated in Egypt due to the geographical location, cultural inclination , religion and many others. The same can’t be said of Kenya. Look at the way it started in Egypt or Tunisia, someone burning himself on the street, who on earth can do that in Kenya? Forget about it.
4. You can never mobilize people with message of either you are with us or with the enemy. You know, the kind of it is my way or the highway. Bush tried it with Iraq and you all know how that went. Name calling and insults will never bring people together to do something big. Plus people must have that inner burning passion and there must be a clear well defined message. After 2008 people felt cheated and the anger was there. At least then it was easy for them to go to the streets. Egyptians want Mubarak to go after being in power for 30 years, full stop. How about Kenya, do we want Kibaki and Raila to go while they are remaining with only one year to share the fake powers? We also know that Kibaki will definitely retire after that.
5. Kenya is tribal nation, whether you want to accept it or not. That does not mean people are stupid, it is just the way they are. So before you tell people to go to the streets you have to explain to them who you are targeting. At the corner there you might look at Kibaki as bad leader or failed leader but people from his tribe will not see that. You might consider Raila a populist but people from his tribe have different opinion. You might look at Kalonzo as “kaloser” withuot any concrete position on anything, relying on the divine intervention but people from his tribe see a different picture. You might not want to associate with Ruto and Uhuru because of their shoddy past but to some of their tribesmen and women, it is a political witch hunt. So be careful
6. Twitter and Facebook in Kenya are places for the middle class, well educated lot and kids from well off backgrounds. These are people who are somehow comfortable on their skins and value stability over chaos. They may support the idea but in reality they will not take to the streets. If you want people to go to the street, get a way to communicate with guys in Kibera , Mathare, Kawangware, else Good Luck
7. If by any chance you were old enough and had owned a business in the year 2008 in Kenya then you seriously understand the repercussion of the street protests. It is important that we work to reform our institutions to avoid that happening again for ever and ever.
8. In Egypt and Tunisia the police is in the side of the people. May be not but at least they look like professionals who respect human lives. I don’t think you can say that about Kenya after what happened in 2008.
9. Yesterday i spoke to an old man in the same age brackets as the like of Uhuru, Ruto, Kalonzo and he told me they are the “old youth”. So the young youth have to wait because they are not mature enough. Plus to him politics is about who have the money. If the old youth want people to go to the street, the people they control will go. They have the money to ensure that happen while the young youth have nothing.