This is an open letter to pre-2010 politicians from Siaya County (to those who actually will read or give a damn, that is). If you are a pre-August 2010 politician from Siaya County, this letter is addressed to you. If you are reading this and thinking it doesn’t/can’t apply to you, think again: it does.
I do not pretend these words represent more than my own, negligible angry voice. But they might. That is why I will risk using the “I” instead of the “we”. So here it goes.
I’m fed up with you. All of you! Whether you’re a second liberation hero or a pre-independence hog or something else in between… Whether you are secretly corrupt or openly robbing us… Whether you are doing nothing or pretending to actually work… Whether you are the son of someone or the son-in-law of another… Whether you are a woman or a man… Whether you are young or old (now that we’ve a 52 year old man in State House who claims to be a youth)… Whether you act as if you listen to us or show us that you don’t care… Whether you are living in Siaya or hiding in Nairobi…Whether you imagine that you are decent only because you wear a tie, or speak and act like a street thug… Whether you know how to fake a smile or are convinced that you are persecuted… Whether you are arrogant or genuinely believe you are a victim… Whether you have loads of money or are dying of poverty after squandering you tax free loot amassed during your tenure in parliament.
In short: Whoever you are, whatever your family name is, however you portray yourself in the public gallery, whatever the so-called values that you are fighting for are called: if you are part of our political life now and has been for the last 50 years, then I’m fed up with you.
Know this: you are nobody if it weren’t for us. We voted for you. You work for us. Let me rephrase: you are supposed to be working for us. And yet you continue to work for everybody and everything except for us: you disregard our needs, our struggles, and our rights. You disrespect our pain, our intelligence, and our ambitions.
Some of you are content to be the puppets of some external power, and/or the heirs of a feudal family that guarantees you what your own merits surely don’t. You shame us and this county. Because of you we are getting more desperate and poorer by the minute. Because of you we are accepting what should be unacceptable. You rely on the tribal and clan instincts of your followers instead of relying on qualities and virtues that you do not possess.
You are the spoiled successors of some father, some grandfather, some uncle, some father-in-law, some distant cousin or some local pre-colonial chief that has decided to buy you in exchange for a stupid title and a fat bank account. You have no integrity, no decency, and no humanity: and I am not generalizing one bit here. I am not disregarding the good at the expenses of the bad and the ugly: For there is no good anywhere to be seen in the decadent bunch that you represent.
Siaya people keep on talking about the hill of problems that they face daily; poor state of the roads, dwindling education, poverty and disease et al while they should rather be talking about the stinky dump that you, our political class really have become and brought us. Obviously, I’m to blame as well. If not first and foremost
You are crooked, ignorant, and fraudulent, and yet I vote for you. You make no effort and yet I vote for you. You lie to me on a daily basis and yet I vote for you. You are sectarian, and yet I vote for you. Most of you are involved in the dilapidation that is our life, and yet I vote for you.
Why do I vote for you? Because I, like the majority don’t think… Because I, like the majority don’t care… Because I, like the majority lack a minimum sense of dignity. Because I, like the majority enjoy being bribed than to have the whole county liberated from what and who is keeping it from stepping into the 21st century.
You sink me into cheap political patronage that continues to gulp our county’s development thanks to you cheap propaganda. You enslave me in political parties that have nothing in return but cheap verbal rhetoric with no meaningful developmental agenda.
A lose walk down memory lane gives me enough evidence that Siaya County has always voted “ODM/CORD of the time”. We have always voted for parties that we believed were the best to serve our interests, not because we knew so but because we were told so by individual political kingpins.
If we’ve been in the right parties all these time, one question begs an answer… WHY HAVE WE BEEN LEFT BEHIND IN DEVELOPMENT? I hate to hear the cliché answer of “we’ve always been in opposition”. Beat the crap, between 1963 and 1991; Kenya had a one party state hence all parliamentary representation was made up of members of KANU. So STFU and forever hold your silence with this “we’ve been oppositionists hence were overlooked in development”.
The truth is simple, we have always elected leaders based upon one man’s direction hence we have never really had a chance to have development oriented leaders. Our county headquarters remains with the same pre-colonial buildings, the roads withing major townships in our county remain untarmacked, health centers across our county are among Kenya’s worst equip and our education system is becoming a pale shadow of its former self with only Maranda High School still standing on the national map.
Siaya heads to a by-election once again and let me compliment all of you as your faces are once again chocking me and a host of Siaya County voters. You all look like a bunch of lost sheep when you sit on those plastic chairs while Anyang’ Nyongo, with his ten kilograms of brains and half a tone of beads make pronouncements on your behalf, never mind the fact that he personally can’t believe that he is still politically relevant.
By the time your hirelings get to inform you of this letter, you are all probably in your respective constituencies, going around telling the masses of the importance of voting ODM/CORD and having a specific candidate elected into office. You’re probably tired. You’re probably sick of wearing the same orange colors day in and day out, after all, you’ve been wearing the same colors for close to three years now and will probably be wearing them for the next five years. You’re probably shaking hands with people whose names you won’t remember tomorrow, taking advent of their naivety to poison their minds on why development plays second fiddle to party politics.
This letter is not about political dynasties, neither is it about a criticism on personality politics that you are embracing as you head out to Siaya with those weird political propaganda you will carry with you to my beloved county. This isn’t a letter of criticism at all. What use is it to criticize what’s already present, existing and never ceasing, as much as I would like to fight these issues, I believe it won’t take me too far but I’m ready to face the consequences… I’m more than happy to brave the insults that will come out of your political slaves and I’m not bothered hence won’t lose any sleep over it, neither will I keep looking over my shoulder.
Let’s admit it, 99.9 percent of you are members of the elite class, you all probably have a top of the range car, you probably go home to a gated community, you probably have maids and aides ready to address your basic needs, you probably have children in private or international schools, and you probably have your own pieces of luxury items. Again, I’m not going to criticize, its fine. It’s fine if you live this way. Who am I to judge you? I will not condemn you for living such lifestyle. I just wanted to ground these assumptions so that we’re on the same page.
I’ve already used the word “probably” more than ten, times from the beginning. You might as well be annoyed for my lack of a more diverse knowledge of words. The reason why I keep on using the word “probably” is because I’m describing your life, a life foreign to me, no matter how much I imagine what your lives as politicians are, I will never be able to know what it is like to be a politician. I can use my imagination and sympathize, but I can never empathize. The same goes for you when you are elected. You are obliged to voice out the problems of millions of poor families in Siaya County, and let’s admit, your way of living is quite far from their own.
You will probably use the word “probably” as well in describing their lives. “Probably they have nothing to eat,” “Probably they’re hopeless,” “Probably they’re not educated.” To a certain degree, you have an idea of their situation, as much as I have an idea of your situation in describing your lives earlier. But this is not enough. As their representatives who hold great power in the some party called ODM, why not better the service you can offer by doing more research. And I’m not talking about statistics, but this is my proposal to all of you; to understand their conditions better by immersing yourself into their lives.
Keep the fancy suits for a day and wear a typical pair of jeans and a shirt. Go around your constituency and commute, disguise yourself not to attract attention. Ride a boda boda and understand how cramped it gets to commute from Ndori to Kogelo. Eat Matumbo at Dak Tek Hotel along the streets of Bondo Town and see the food quality served to majority of your constituents. Take a shower on River Yala and listen to the problems of the butchers, the cobblers, the touts, and the boda boda riders on a next to you. Line up in government offices without the VIP treatment and feel the inefficiency of some offices in giving simple documents. Have something treated in a public hospital and experience the kind of service of a public institution. Just for a day, live the life of majority of your voters and you’ll get a better perspective of their problems. Be one with the people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sadist who wants to make it tough on you but I just want you to open your eyes to our realities. To the realities you may not have been seeing. Do not separate your lives to ours. Do not rely on assumptions or create our stories in your minds and merely sympathize and speak on podiums on our behalf. If you dare speak on my behalf make sure you know what you’re talking about. They say experience is the best teacher, then come and do this research. Certainly doing this for a day will not give you absolute knowledge on our conditions but it can give you a better insight on the public you’ll be shouting your voice hoarse to vote ODM/CORD instead of a leader simple because your ODM/CORD leaders needs numbers to negotiate their retire benefits… So that he can have seven fuel guzzlers at his beckon, fueled to capacity by our money while the few lucky ones in our midst who have cars have opted to park their own vehicles as they cannot fuel them and put a decent breakfast on their family tables at the same time
So before this campaign ends, before you give me those silly reasons why ODM/CORD is more important that a promise of Siaya District Hospital getting a new CT Scan machine or the urge to have a fish cooling plant at Uyawi beach or a passable link road between Wagai and Maliera, go and walk around this county, pay attention to the worn-out buildings around the townships, weak grandmothers laboring on the farms with hopes of getting their orphaned grandchildren something to eat, rotting foot bridges and puddled potholes in the 40 year old road that knows no tarmac. See the things you saw before seeking public office but ignored immediately you got the ticket living in your elite world.
See this, feel this, experience this because this is the Siaya County. The majority does not live as comfortably as you but they most certainly deserve a life as comfortable as yours. Go out and do your research so that when you’re finally get your ODM candidate elected, his face plastered around the county will be the face to change and answer these problems that we trusted you to sort out but have developed amnesia for.
My hope is that you let me, the Siaya voter, the same who has voted for parties for the 50 years, be. Let me make this one decision that will be unpopular with you but guarantees me that which the parties I’ve religiously supported over the years have failed to offer me. Allow me to vote a leader who will see to it that I get a bearable road network, a deserved harvest from my days of toil, a health facility worth smiling about.
This is might sound like a plea, but it actually is a demand….
Allow me to exercise my right to a better life as enshrined in the Constitution that you viciously campaigned and convinced me to vote for.
Kohadha Roy Ogolla