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The seed must die: wishing Kenya a quicker death?

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on July 25, 2009

By Edward Kisiang’ani (26th July; E.A. Standard)

Even though some people are devastated by the inevitable decay of the Kenyan State, I am not. I have been celebrating the fact that, soon, the political construction we inherited from the British will end.

This is because, as originally constituted at independence, the State has not only become tired and exhausted but has also failed to meet the public expectations. Thus, its decomposition need not surprise anybody who respects the veracity of scientific rationalism. This State is terminally indisposed.

Through the disciplines of history and political science, the modern man has come to appreciate that human societies are never transformed through witchcraft or superstition. Rather, changes come about as a result of contradictions, which are necessitated by conflicting interests within a polity.

As an intricate terrain of powerful social conflicts, Kenya is in the final stages of being remodelled into a new entity that will have little resemblance to the 1963 prototype.

In its 46-year history, the State has experienced profound social, economic, political, and ethnic and class contradictions that have come with their own pleasures and pains.

Besides making it possible for us to experience the birth of new men, women, ideas and perceptions, internal conflicts have also catalysed the irreversible destruction of the original State.

Over the years, the reconfiguration of the State has, on the one hand, been enhanced by the continuing struggle between the people and the Government and, on the other, the conflict among the various interest groups.

Critical to the various forms of antagonism, which have irreparably damaged the independence State, have been issues of governance, food, resources, tribalism and short-sighted leadership.

Unstoppable change

German thinker, Karl Marx, once observed that all change is a product of constant conflicts between opposites arising from internal contradictions inherent in all events, ideals and movements.

Marx developed the concept of dialectical materialism to argue human progress is only possible under contradictory, interacting forces called the thesis and anti-thesis. With time, the contest between the thesis and anti-thesis gives rise to the synthesis.

Marx reiterated that when the conditions for change are ripe, the wheel of history is unstoppable.

Although it was founded on the false premise that it would thrive in a social environment which perpetuates corruption, the State has, ironically, been destabilised by the turbulence occasioned by the endless contest between those supporting graft and those opposing the vice.

Soon, the combustion chambers will explode, effectively disfiguring the current State beyond recognition.

The issue of punishment for the masterminds of post-election violence is, for instance, a clear demonstration of the unhealthy heat within the state. Three opposing groups have emerged from this conflict.

Arguing that a local tribunal would be manipulated to acquit criminals, the first faction supports the move to try poll violence suspects at The Hague.

But driven by the urge to use local institutions to subvert justice by perpetuating impunity, the second faction proposes a homegrown tribunal.

The third group, with a similar objective as the second one, is of the view that suspects of last year’s election violence should be referred to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

With no end in sight to these contradictions, the issue of election offenders might just provide the most decisive energy to complete the final disintegration of the State.

The failure of the country’s national leadership to modernise the State we inherited from the British has been a costly affair.

It has meant that our education systems are inefficient and irrelevant; it has signified famine emanating from outdated agricultural practices; it has perpetuated poverty, inequality and insecurity. Evidently, this State has no capacity to deal with the current food, energy and water crises.

With little apologies to make, Kenyans will tell you they have no faith in the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature. Doesn’t this mean that our people are already tired of resuscitating a dying State?

Emergence of new leaders

But internal contradictions within the State have also given rise to a condition which Marx calls self-negation. This is the suicidal stage of an organism.

Under self-negation, an organism realises that because its ailment is incurable, it must submit itself to the fate of self-destruction to provide a fertile ground for a new, but more advanced species to be born.

Regrettably, however, most of the leaders within the political class have failed to read the signs of the times. Unless they accept the wave of change is unstoppable, these leaders will one day be part of the rubble and ashes from which a new Kenya will germinate. Let the State die.

—The writer ( teaches History and Political Studies at Kenyatta University.


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