OPINIONPeople Daily

Politicians light fires, ordinary people burn

The skirmishes reported to have occurred between Kericho and Kisumu, sparked by attacks on public service vehicles, are alarming. It turned out that a few vehicles plying between the two towns, or crossing from yonder, were targeted in the crossfire, prompting retaliatory responses.

This is unfortunate indeed, as it has the hallmarks of perceived political rivalry turned awry. I am referring to it as “political” but it clearly assumed other unfortunate dimensions because what came out was something of ethnic posturing disguised as political friction.

For lack of a better word, this conflict arose from political events, more pointedly, the deportation of lawyer-activist Miguna Miguna. I know he would want to fry me and ask me where I went to school for calling him a lawyer when he insists he is a barrister but he can feel free to call me names.

And that makes it a story for another day. It is unfortunate that political events happening in the capital can shape occurrences in the counties. And for what? Nothing! If you ask me, how would the fate of Miguna affect the lives of folks who may have never set eyes on him in their lives? When will Kenyans refuse to see political events without wearing ethnic blinkers and open their eyes for once?

Let’s put the question another way. How does Miguna’s arrest, or indeed deportation affect the life of, say, the village cobbler or tailor? Don’t folks have enough problems putting food on the table? More broadly, what did the residents of the targeted villages have to do with events back in Nairobi?

One would like to believe that in this age of enlightenment, such thoughtless acts as attacking each other having lived as neighbours for eons belong to the movies. But no, some gutless folks must put a spanner in the works.

My take is that politicians should carry their own cross and folks back home should live their lives (emphasis mine). Period. Expand that argument somewhat and what are we saying? That the fate of politicians is not intertwined with that of ordinary folk in the village.

Anyway, not enough to cause social strife. I know for a fact that the political class thrives on making the supporters believe that everything that happens to them affects the latter. Folks must learn to think for themselves and reason, rather than allow leaders to shepherd them like sheep.

If they did this, events such as what transpired in Kericho and Kisumu would not occur. I would like to believe that security apparatus have noted the potential for flare-ups and taken steps, both literally and figuratively. Politicians or not, we remain one nation. I rest my case. —The writer is Assignments and Special Projects Editor, People Daily

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