Two Cents on Political Involvement – By Philomena Irungu

Do you know that even if you do not vote, the elected leaders do rule over you with their decisions entrenching themselves onto the very details of your precious life? Yeah, check how much VAT you pay on your next supermarket run, or the power token taxes imposed. Let us not even get to COVID, the KQ plane that came in from China after cases were confirmed and the COVID millionaires who are still living free and large with a government in place to take action.

Funny how we all long and yearn to turn 18 and thump our chests that we are adults. Sometimes I wonder why it never sunk in that I am being given a passcode to decide my future and my children’s future, in terms of whom I want to oversee our community resources. Funny how all I could see is that I just ceased to be a minor. Oh, I hope it is not too late to start over. I hope it is not too late to make my voice count, to speak out on issues that are of concern and importance to me and my people. 

I have come to agree that bad leaders are outrightly elected by the people who do not vote; those like me who have had a huge disinterest in politics. It was for understandable reasons you know, don’t judge. Tuko wengi, I am sure. For instance, saying political engagements are messy and dirty, oh what do we gain, yet they will rig the votes, ninahustle or I will be resting without using my leave days! Let us not get into the lingering question of queueing under the unforgiving Machakos sun without Githeri man for some bitings and entertainment. Clearly, I have a plethora of inexcusable excuses that simply display politics and governance as too adversarial to meddle into.

The Awakening

Have you heard John F. Kennedy’s wise words, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all” 

Now you know. You see that person who is already swearing that they will not and cannot vote, they are already exercising their power over you.

The disaster is that the elite who have figured that out, hardly take time to reach out to fellow citizens to pour out their brains and ideologies. What do they do instead, they bury their heads in the sand and pore over books to gain more educational qualifications, advance in careers, take their kids overseas, and simply divorce the whole political situations. After all, does it not make sense to exert more efforts in areas that produce tangible material gain? Maybe just to calm the inner conscience, an occasional tweet or a half-hearted comment on Facebook will do. Most of the time, without even verifying the validity of the statements reposted. Maybe over drinks with friends, the issue of who will be voted in next comes up and it is all banter about people and not policy or progress made by the leaders, a little whining on how times are rough follows.

I do not mean to put somebody in the spotlight, this is the plain truth of vitu kwa ground. What we fail to see is that, once bad governance is in place, we will all face the consequences. We will all pay heftier taxes, use the bad roads and watch our leaders pocket the change, painfully lose a loved one due to a broken healthcare system, watch the education system crumble even with our big ideas in our minds, watch as insecurity increases due to desperate times that push our youth to the brink of survival, get tired of corruption scandals but most of all, continue feeling disgruntled of the status quo.

The good thing about democracy is that every vote counts. Even the uncast ones. Voting is not your right only, it is your power, it is your power to decide. It is your ticket to a better future, to your children’s future. Yes, it is time for new prospects and optimism. It is a time for a paradigm shift in how we view voting engagements and politics. We need to get out of that cocoon where we lie to ourselves that politics has nothing to do with me as an individual. Voting is a right but also a responsibility, do not be a deadbeat who does not meddle in the murky political world. It is about that time that we realize we hire government officials to work for us, sio serikali saidia.

Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world.” – Roald Dahl.

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