Lucy Oriang': It’s time to end the madness and demand our country back

THERE ARE TOO MANY noisemakers running riot among us — and this at a time when Kenyans need peace and quiet to search their souls and come up with a new way of coexisting. We would ignore them if their careless words and actions were not the symptoms of a deep-seated problem.

Either they know something we do not, or they are enemies of the State and should be put where they belong: behind bars. The mystery is why the prefects — also known as principals for purposes of the national accord — appear unable or reluctant to put an end to the nonsense.

If we can establish the reason, we may get to the root of the burning question: Why is Kenya still in the woods when we have a coalition agreement that, unlike other memorandums of understanding, was signed in full view of the public?

That accord is very precise and reasonable in its key provisions. It may have been achieved by coercion as much as persuasion, but it is a good blueprint for setting the country on the path to a new understanding of democracy.

Yet the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement are playing politics as usual, and the men in charge give the impression that they have lost control of the peace and reconciliation process, and that they are too helpless to give us back our country. It is a scary thought.

Even prefects in primary school enjoy considerable influence. They may not have the authority to punish anyone, but they can book culprits, and just the threat is often enough to rein in those who refuse to stop disturbing others.

The noisemakers know authority when they see it, and they understand that there will be a price to pay if they persist in disrupting the peace.

There are only two men, President Mwai Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, who have the power to shape the direction Kenya takes. They both assure us of their commitment to striking a deal on a Cabinet that will serve Kenya well rather than the other way round.

Yet we have all manner of impostors trying to butt into a critical situation. They are not only making it worse, but there is a speaking silence from the men in charge.

There have been two major assaults on the peace process. The first comes from the threat of violence if ODM does not get its way. It came to pass among riotous youths in Kibera and Kisumu, who have made a sport of destroying everything in sight. They seem to take special pleasure in trying to uproot the railway line.

The greater danger lies in copycat riots, and tensions are already being reported to the west.

That they end up suffering the greater loss does not seem to matter. Nor does the fact that none of the violence has changed either their circumstances or the dimensions of the problem.

THE POOR ARE EASILY DISPENSED with and quickly forgotten. Every now and then, we suffer an attack of conscience over the internally displaced. But then lethargy sets in and we train our eyes on Harambee House, which never fails to disappoint.

The thing with terror tactics is that you can apply them only so often. The other camp soon anticipates your moves and comes up with an effective counter-attack. There were riot police camped strategically on Ngong Road, a good two days or so before the Kibera riots. It is that easy to read the minds of professional protesters.

The other group of rabble-rousers comprises ministers, MPs and other minor politicians who constantly hold press conferences and issue statements that are irrelevant at best, and suicidal at worst.

What was the thinking in the Party of National Unity parliamentary group when it declared that it was ready to stand by their man even if he broke up Parliament and called a fresh election?

I stand to be corrected, but would he not be deemed to have served two terms and thus technically out of contention? The Tenth Parliament will have run its course, even at a mere couple of months in office. We should be so lucky!

Bravado tactics — whether running battles in the streets or useless and unsolicited information from irrelevant politicians — will not help this country get out of the quagmire.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga need to reclaim their authority and put an end to the sideshows and arm-twisting that are distracting us from the task at hand.

To do this, they have to demonstrate that they are men of steel. That metal is hard and strong. But it is also very flexible, and is used to reinforce superstructures such as the spectacular bridges of the developed countries.

History has placed these two men in the prime position of undoing the wrong that has passed in Kenya’s politics. It is a challenge they play around with at their own peril.

They will not accomplish their mission as long as they cosy up to the hardcore elements in their camps.

Take a cold, hard look at this nation, gentlemen, and make a firm decision on what you want your legacy to be. Kenyans cannot live in limbo for much longer, and too many vested interests and unmet expectations can only lead to an explosion.

Three-and-a-half months of madness are enough.

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