Beware of fear mongers as elections near

Posted: December 19, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in World
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By ABABU NAMWAMBA (a Kenyan Legislator).
Finally, a rare voice of reason in an political landscape otherwise littered with demagoguery and every form of idiotic rigmarol/diatribe and just downright naivety–Submitted by thegreatest
Among the countless gems in Florentine thinker Niccolo Machiavelli’s masterpiece on political intrigue, The Prince, is his observation that “men are so simple and so much creatures of circumstance that the deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived”.

This truism has nourished and shaped the art of propaganda through the ages, making the careers of famed spin-masters like Josep Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propagandist par excellence.

But while the world of make-believe and twisted logic has become part and parcel of modern-day political mobilisation, it has nonetheless transformed the political chessboard into a virtual shark-infested cesspool with mortal risks to social order.

It gets worse when persons who enjoy considerable public sway choose to religiously pay homage to Mark Twain’s warped counsel that “truth is the most valuable thing we have, so let us economise (on) it”.

Some deliberately close their eyes to all truth, electing instead to build their entire political strategy on lies, distortion and misrepresentation.

They remind one of Winston Churchill’s description of three-time British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin: “He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened”.

Others perfect the game of ringing alarm bells for the most sinister intentions, a living manifestation of the Aesopian fable of “The Boy who Cried Wolf”, that everlasting tale of a shepherd boy who tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock.

He raises the alarm so many times that when the sheep are actually confronted by a wolf, the villagers do not believe his cries for help and the flock is destroyed.

The moral is that the ultimate reward for liars is that even if they tell the truth, no one believes them.

But this has never deterred the fear mongers who are masters at the game of creating imaginary ogres, demons and vampires, which they deploy with callous dexterity to whip up fireballs of virulent sentiment in sections of the populace.

The Kenyan political airspace is infested with more than its fair share of Mark Twain disciples, Stanley Baldwin types and cry-wolf super-cons who seem betrothed to the alchemy of cynical fear-mongering and spicing up lies into the mirage of a sumptuous meal.

Depressing constant

Indeed, one depressing constant about the skirmishes that have repeatedly blemished our electoral contests over the past couple of decades has been the backdrop of incitement, distortion and deliberate scare-crow tactics of rallying ordinary folk against each other.

Yet we just never seem to learn, fatally repeating the same mistakes over and over again in a manner not dissimilar to the behaviour of the deranged.

For doesn’t insanity entail repeating something over and over and expecting different results? And so, quite predictably, we are again getting busy on the spindle, spinning yarn after yarn of new and recycled lies, fears and myths for the sole purpose of gaining cheap political advantage.

Among those being peddled with frenzied excitement include “not another Kikuyu at State House after Kibaki”. This is solely targeted at scuppering Uhuru Kenyatta’s second stab at the seat.

It is the creation of crafty rivals who, well aware that the son of Jomo bears all the hallmarks of a formidable presidential candidate, have deigned to torpedo his bid by this myth that has absolutely no constitutional backing and is anchored on the irrational.

The same illogical spin has also been pointed in the direction of William Samoei arap Ruto, with the hilarious argument that 24 years of Nyayo rule is still too fresh in the national memory for the presidential motorcade to head back to the land of Kitwek. Silly, silly, silly again!

But, as has become the Kenyan political custom, the most lethal fire is always reserved for the enigmatic son of Jaramogi – Raila Amollo Odinga.

For him, the spinners just never stop running the spindle, and the yarn runs into miles upon miles, on a scale that is as melodramatic as it is innately risky.

Raila is accused of virtually everything under the sun and below the sea, by rivals who seem terrified by the mere thought of confronting him on the ballot paper.

The rainmaker

Apparently, if it rains too much in your neck of woods, blame it on the rainmaker from the Lake, and when drought strikes, he surely must be responsible too … if your cow does not calf, the Lang’ata fisher of men must have visited a spell on your herd … Yes, even that frequent spat with your spouse could just be the work of this indefatigable spellbinder!

And as we near d-date for the next elections, this crescendo of myths is bound to hit record decibels as efforts are made to compromise his “favourite” tag.

Samuel Croxall asks, with reference to political alarmism: “When we are alarmed with imaginary dangers in respect of the public, till the cry grows quite stale and threadbare, how can it be expected we should know when to guard ourselves against real ones?” The answer lies in your heart and head!

namwambaa@gmail.com

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