It’s election season and the talk in town is politics, and more politics. The greybeards, ambling young men and women convene in the ‘jobless’ corner benches across every major town in Kenya and share views on which candidate is best suited for the top job. Back in offices everyone wants to pull an intelligent motion on candidates who are bound to win and we have our own polls to discredit candidates who are not our preference. Now more than ever everyone is a political analyst, everyone is a peace advocate, everyone is concerned about Kenya’s future and more so we are all watchdogs of change.
Through time I have come to realize that change belongs to those in power and that democracy is a term we use to satisfy our need to have those we want in power stay in power. My take, quid pro quo is the relationship we have with our leaders. Who is failing the other?
In the book African Intellectuals byThandika Mkandawire, he paints a picture of how African intellectuals and more so the leaders, are failing the continent. He talks of how majority of Africans remain mired in poverty and development continues to elude Africa, despite talks on democracy and renaissance. Our fore fathers fought for independence and the need to have sovereign African states, free from the white regime, they took themselves to schools in the west so that they could level up in challenging the white man’s ideologies on ruling our continent. Did going back to school help? My opinion, it did help and thank you to Airlift Kenya which helped to channel a way for the pioneers of this country’s independence get good quality education. But going back to ‘African Intellectuals’ I feel that our current leaders who are well blossomed with degrees of prestigious certificates are failing us.
Should Intellectual wealth be a blueprint to the success of African states, politically, economically and socially? Most states are busy rioting and having military stampedes in their own lands. A case of Kenya, post election violence, Tana delta clashes, Baragoi police killings etc are a result of lack of communication and different ideologies amongst members of a society. Some argue that these wars are propagated by the so called learned African leaders. I might not get down into the details of Kenya because cases are still pending in international and local courts, but take a case of Lurent Gbagbo a professor of History who refused to accept defeat in 2010 and a bloody civil war descended in Ivory Coast, such leaders in our continent show that there is irrelevance in struggling to bring change because if ideologies differ the end result is war.
A recent and ongoing conflict is one of Egypt, where this learned leader with a bachelor’s and masters degree in engineering from Cairo University and an additional PH.D in material science from the University of South California wants to extend his powers and be above the law. Morsi’s decree has sparked protests by Egyptians demanding a reversal declaration of the constituent assembly, he is hardly five months old in presidency after the removal of Hosni Mubarak from the top seat. Again are these scholars failing our continent?
YOU SCRATCH MY BACK I SCRATCH YOURS!
Yes we are all advocates of change, yes we are encouraging each other to go and vote, but we are our own worst enemies. I read a commentary somewhere that, we as the voters fail our continent. Our leaders may be loaded with intellectual wealth but with each democratic vote we decide the future of our country. Most of us are lured by titles, money and favours and that is why even as we approach the ballot box and exercise our right to vote, we do it for all the wrong reasons, because we gain something from it. If things go wrong, if our vote does not put the leader we want in power, we take to the streets and kill each other, forgetting that the leaders we are fighting for are laid back at the comfort of their couches waiting to see the outcome of the violence. Hardly do our intellectual leaders come out and preach peace and if they do, they do it to gain something from it, not because they are concerned about our welfare.
Like an Ox grinding its hooves into the floor and a cloud of dust billows up from beneath it, we move back to give it way, just as we react with our political leaders…as they busy draft their manifestos and tell us of proposed changes they will do in our country, we give them way to bring change. But most of us are bribed into it so as to tag others along for our preferred candidate because we gain something from it, say maybe money or a political post. My question, who should educate us against this rioting culture that has become the new method of solving issues in our continent? The intellectual? We who consider ourselves scholars and learned have let Africa down.
George Ayittey in his article ‘Academics, Scholars and Intellectuals have let Africa Down’ quotes “We of the intellectual community are lost; we don’t know where we are going. We are way behind the curve, late to struggle for democracy in Africa and are only playing ‘catch-up’. We are hopelessly blind to the equally heinous injustices committed by African Leaders against their own people. Too many of us sold off our integrity, principals and conscience to serve the dictates of tyrannical and barbarous regimes.”
Does it matter if we elect leaders who are only learned? Does it matter if we have members of parliament who have never set a foot in a class, the pedestrian? Do learned leaders play key in making a state better? We who term ourselves as intellectuals and learned people, do we matter when it comes to sensitization of the naïve and easy politically tempered? Then who should lead a country?
“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” William Arthur Ward