The Standard Blog

When dictators fear the people, it is time to quake

Published on 16/12/2008

By Kipkirui K’Telwa

Kenyans should fear when we see our government station anti-riot police in all parts of the country, including recreational facilities such as parks. We should fear more when journalists are barred from accessing Parliament or arrested and charged for putting on clothes that do not praise the government of the day.

Kenyans should fear when journalists are clobbered – as silent, approving dignified leaders hide behind newspapers – for writing and speaking about injustices in society, like it happened on Jamhuri Day.

Coming days after 25 MPs passed a Bill in 25 minutes to gag the media, the incidents confirm that this is not a government willing to engage its own people in a dialogue about what concerns them. It would rather suppress them.

It is only in Kenya where leaders call hungry, oppressed citizens ‘mad’ – and get away with it. In Kenya, like in a few other African countries, leaders who fear solutions to pressing problems find hurl abuse like it is the natural thing to do. “Wacha wapigane (let them fight on),” they say.

Fear, more than anything else, defines our political system. It has taken leaders hostage. Yet ironically – as I said last year – fear grips not only the ordinary Kenyans but also the “oppressive democracy”.

Several reasons inspire fear. People fear change when the status quo benefits them; when they do not know what would become of them once changes occur and or are already aware that proposed changes would work against them.

These fears emanate from signals sent out by those pushing for change. And those who know the forces of change are unstoppable quake in their houses on the hill when they hear the footsteps of peaceful wananchi.

Our government fears to be held to account for their actions and inactions. Politicians fear to be taxed and to account for their wealth. When crimes committed in their watch are exposed, they respond with the fury of a wild dog on Jamhuri Day.

“My arrest speaks a lot about this Government. This is a Government with dictatorial tendencies. We need a new Kenya, which upholds the rule of law and freedoms,” were the words of Mwalimu Mati on Jamhuri Day when he, his wife, other and journalists activists were arrested for failing to wear T-shirts written ‘Tawala Kenya’.

Political and economic deprivation, centralisation of power, exploitation and utter plunder of resources are the tools for reinforcing constant fear.

Bluntly, it is fear that informs Kenyan politicians’ dithering on the Waki and Kriegler reports, and disbandment of Samuel Kivuitu-led electoral body.

They fear that once out, Kivuitu will say too much. They fear it might lead the country to fresh elections, which they fear losing. This makes them quake harder than a squeaky plate compactor.

French scholar Frederic Bastiat in The Law warns that: “Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organised by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter — by peaceful or revolutionary means — into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of the two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.”

So do not be surprised when, after Kenyans killed each other from December to February, nothing changed and the liberators become tormentors.

Neither should you be surprised that a section of the society puts up a futile, if brutal, fight to stop change. No one should be shocked when MPs refuse to pay taxes, disband ECK but resolve in unison to make laws that gag the press and deny their citizens basic freedoms of expressions and speech.

Fear may sustain Kibaki-Raila-Kalonzo leadership, and possibly keep the current MPs until 2012, but change will ensure they get a sendoff.

Fellow Kenyan, let us quake together in the land of fear.


1. On Thursday December 18, 2008, 20:44 PM , Solomon Kendagor, United States wrote:

  I fully agree, but my question is how long will our people live in fear and threat by those whom they put in power and support with their taxes. I long for a day when Kenya will have a government that serves its people, seeks to restore respect, peace and prosperity for the nation as a whole. When will this come about? God help our nation!


2. On Wednesday December 17, 2008, 13:37 PM , Paul Nyamuti, India wrote:

  I totally agree with you. I believe that our leaders or if I may call them black govenors fear change, look at us my friend, our infrastructure, our political structures everything is Bad. We thought that this time around there would be Real change but I guess nothing good is coming soon. We need mid-term elections for our MPs after two and half years so that we weed bad MPs out.


3. On Wednesday December 17, 2008, 1:13 AM , Michael Ngeno, United States wrote:

  Well said Telwa! I can’t think of anything else, you mentioned them all man. My heart is crowned with joy that we got people of your example who are able to speak for those at the villages. God bless Kenya. Bring forth leader who would not uphold the values of to mistaken identity who swept the country in the name of bring change.


4. On Tuesday December 16, 2008, 23:18 PM , festus mbuva, United States wrote:

  Stalin was obsessed with his security as he send millions of his subjects to gulags if they were lucky to escape death in the hands of NKVD; due to paranoia, Idi Amin had eliminated 75% of Ugandan citizens from his army by the time of his demise. See the trend? Power can only belong to citizens. If not those who oppress becomes captives of their own creation. History is cruel to the ruthless.


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