The Kenyan Liver has been protected!

By James Shikwati

Airport rushOne of the ruling elites in Kenya once equated political leadership with the action of juggling with a fresh liver. Whereas Kenyan voters werebusy casting their vote, a few elites were busy juggling with the liver in their board rooms; delaying result-tallying and making otherwise efficient election officials to disappear for three days. The resultant effect of liver juggling as opposed to democratic results that each one of us was waiting for is now in the open for the World to behold.
Kenya as well as Africa’s reformist global position has slipped. We have backtracked to 1988.

I was in a Kakamega restaurant following the election drama on Kenya Television Network (KTN) when within minutes of what appeared to be a video taped announcement of a presidential victory was followed by a hurriedly arranged swearing-in ceremony. It looked very much similar to documentaries on military coups in Africa, only this was more of a liver coup over democracy. Within minutes of our restored president signing himself to office, somebody rushed into the restaurant and warned all those with cars to be careful on how they will drive home. This being my rural town I ignored this warning but chose to drive away immediately. I came face to face with a new Kenya I had only read about!

James ShikwatiMy car hit the tarmac for less than 2 meters; the first bunch of protesting voters let me through after scrutinizing my identification documents-the second road block within a meter sent warning missiles towards my car and indicated they had no patience to check my identification. A Good Samaritan pointed at a dusty, dirt road as the only escape hutch. With adrenaline rushing, wondering which Kenya I was in, I accelerated and off I was on a bumpy road! It was now dark. I found another bonfire deep into the sinuses of remoteness, but the group let me through without much fuss.

After making several wrong turns, I finally landed on the familiar Sigalagala Butere road. I started answering calls, happy that I was finally home. What? On reaching the Bukura Institute of Agriculture gates, I saw a huge fire towards the direction I was driving, a policeman in civilian clothes waved me down and advised that I should not proceed. This is my village; this is where I grew up, who will stop me? I defied him again. Stupid me! Warning missiles flew from the direction of the bonfire and I turned and took refuge in the agricultural college. I drove home the following morning. You can guess what went through my proud African mind.

In a nutshell, the flawed Kenyan electoral process that ignored the logic of why results were always announced at the polling centers demonstrated that we are yet to internalize democracy in our system. Democracy is simply a tool for liver jugglers to determine when, and who ought to be in power. Liver juggling has set in motion forces that will reverse the few gains Kenyans had attained. Destruction of people’s property, total disregard of rule of law and abuse of the same, tribal witch hunting and class struggle are now in motion.

James Shikwati's carI am now held hostage in my village, I am unable to drive back to Nairobi because voters from different parts of Kenya have blockaded highways in protest of liver juggling democracy. It is unbelievable to see basic commodities disappear from store shelves because delivery trucks cannot move. Pump stations are dry, the famous cell phone industry is slowly grinding to a halt because no one is able to deliver the credit calling cards. Every evening I see lit up horizons. When I tune on the radio, I simply hear appeals for prayer and wonder loudly whether Kenyans and Africans should replace democracy with prayer!

James Shikwati is the Director of Inter Region Economic Network