When Victory is Defeat
For some reason when it comes to politics some people seem to believe that they have psychic capabilities, that they possess the ability to derive adequate generalizations from intuition alone. Apparently, the diversity of human thought, will, beliefs and motivations don’t allow for nuance; and are reducible to short position statements. Alternatively, it is a willingness to deceive, to give a false impression for the sake of their cause.
This mindset takes an interesting form in Kenya’s current election cycle. It blinds the people to what they have lost in having won. What do I mean? Brutus and his fellow senators won their war against Caesar, but that win lost them the republic, the very thing they wished to have.
So, the ruling Jubilee party is adamant that it won the election. They however seem oblivious to what they have lost. I can surmise this based on the public statements the leaders and their supporters have made.
Uhuru Kenyatta has taken a conciliatory tone since, and apparently there is a need to move on to heal the country. Statements such as “Kenya is bigger than one person.” “A competition must have a winner and a loser.” “It is time to heal the country.” “it is time to move on and build the country.” “We must respect the rule of law.” “The country needs a loyal opposition.” occur daily on TV and the newspaper. It is as if they are unaware what the declaration of victory means? Contrast that with the statements that were made prior by the same individuals. Contrast that with the activities in parliament in prior times; the tone of the lawyers during the trials. It is hard to believe that the same individuals have a plan and a vision for the future that involve a Kenya bigger than one person, or organization.
There are similar events in other countries that would help us visualize and help have a wholistic view of the conflict that is unfolding. Hopefully, the contrast between the two countries will serve to clarify what the issues are. Unlike Kenya, this country had entered a period of economic boom so things were better; corruption was not an issue and the police had a great reputation. It had well. Like Kenya there was an ideological conflict with what they considered extremists. There was a grand plan, projects that would take the country to the next level, to aid take it to the next level and make a better country. There were also historical injustices, laws had been adjusted to help avoid those things happening again, and its constitution was considered quite good. A section of the population was however dissatisfied with how things were going and the direction it was taking. They organized protests, boycotts and other forms of civil disobedience. They ended up with a country divided. Of course, there were those who told these agitators that they were harming the country and the economy of the country. This country was the United States of America. The agitators were the Civil Rights Movement.
Now drawing this comparison might draw others into pointing out the differences between the American situation and the Kenyan situation but that is to miss the point of the comparison. It’s about the conflict and the responses to the conflict. “Look at the laws.” “You are reopening old wounds.” “You are agitating people.” “This all happened in the past.” “Things are better now.” “This country is bigger than one man.” “We need to do things according to the constitution.” “We are not the ones that did those horrible things.”
How does this tie into a victory that is a defeat? If the mission is indeed move a country forward and build a nation then they have failed. If the goal is to unite and prosper the people then this victory is a defeat. If the goal is to unite a nation then the victory is a defeat. Several factors tie into this characterization of this victory as a defeat.
The first factor is the number of dissidents. There is a significant minority of the entire population who are on board with the project of the opposition. They believe what they are doing is morally right. They believe they are victims of injustice. They believe that this injustice hurt their parents, is hurting them and if they do nothing will hurt their children.
The second is the state of the institutions. There is the matter of corruption.This means that generally people don’t trust public officials. The Kenyan police being ranked third worst in the 2017 in the World Internal Security and Police Index report vindicated their claims about the police and it’s violent crackdown on protesters. The supreme court decision vindicating to some degree the opposition claim the electoral process was flawed and the internal memo detailing the internal conflicts within the IEBC lends support to those who make the case the institutions are compromised.
Third the government response, after all the horrible things that people suffered, they insist that people have to move on. The same government that broke several collective bargaining agreements. They insist that the country is bigger than one man, as if the dissidents are mindless puppets, and their anger, and sorrow are the product of one man or for the sake of one man.
So they have lost the dissidents, dissidents who expect the use of state machinery to be set upon them; much like the civil rights movements suffered; much like the Zimbabwean opposition suffered. The American Revolution has about 24% support from the population. These dissidents see the government as hijacked by thieving, tribalistic, murderers; and since the supporters of these “criminals” know this, they are somewhat complicit. Traitors who wish to thrive on their pain because of the quality of life they have inherited. I don’t see how a person seen as corrupt, tribalitic and murderous can win support and trust from society that loathe those traits.