By Koigi Wa Wamwere
We just had an election to give us the best man or woman to be our president for the next five years. Though elections are central to democracy, I feel more apprehensive than celebratory over it. What can be wrong? In Kenya, elections are done more to promote dictatorship than serve democracy.
For 13 years I was incarcerated and detained by one party dictatorship of President Jomo Kenyatta for 4 years and for an additional 9 years by the dictatorship of President Daniel Arap Moi.
In the detention of these two dictatorships, innocent Kenyans were subjected to torture that included, denial of medical treatment, solitary confinement for 23 and ½ hours daily, untried and indefinite incarceration that can range from one day to 27 years, raw food spiced with spiders and snails, exposure to mosquitoes, denial of family visits, deprivation of privacy, ensuring you have no bed or beddings etc., etc.
To perpetrate these injustices upon Kenya, both President Kenyatta and President Moi used Executive and Ethnic dictatorships to oppress and emasculate people, and used one party parliamentary majorities to justify and legitimize dictatorships.
When I went to parliament in 1979, I thought I could use parliamentary immunity to fight for and liberate people. Unfortunately, I was shocked to find that parliament could not be used to liberate people because it was itself held captive by Kenyatta and Moi Executives.
In the days of KANU one-party dictatorship, KANU majority in parliament used National Assembly to make oppressive laws that legalized and legitimized dictatorship like Section 2A of old constitution. Parliament was also used to legalize and legitimize detention or imprisonment of innocent citizens indefinitely, without charge or trial.
One party dictatorship also governed the country with fear and silence, routinely rigged elections and assassinated anybody who criticized the president in any small way. It even punished dreams that made people kings.
Executive dictatorship emasculated Parliament by using police terror and detention to ruin, destroy and assassinate outspoken MPs like J.M. Kariuki, Martin Shikuku, Mark Mwithaga, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, George Anyona, Koigi wa Wamwere, Achieng Oneko, Wasonga Sijeyo and many others.
Through fear, presidents emasculated courts by giving judges instructions, taking away their security of tenure and possibly killing Chief Justice Kitili Mwendwa.
When we see signs of dictatorship we tremble because we have been there and know history is repeating itself. It is therefore time for patriots and those who have courage to warn the country before it is too late that dictatorship is knocking at the door and must not be allowed in.
Already we have heard leaders like Ndindi Nyoro and David Murathe ask President Uhuru to be a dictator in order to save Kenya. Yet we know from history and the Bible that dictatorship has never developed a country, made a country great or transformed society harmoniously. Rather dictatorship is ruinous and destructive to society and unity of any nation.
Those who are clamoring for dictatorship suffer from the ignorance of German people when they were chanting “Hail Hitler”. They lack the knowledge and experience of those whom dictatorship has detained, tortured, maimed, destroyed and killed sometimes en masse.
When after the death of King Solomon, people of Israel went to young King Heroboam asking him not to oppress them as his father King Solomon had, he asked for the advice of elders who counseled him to grant them their request but he refused. Instead, he listened to young people who counseled him to oppress the people even more brutally than King Solomon, advice that he accepted and communicated to people and ten tribes who were shocked and forced to secede from the rule of King Heroboam.
However, instead of learning from the Bible how to avoid dictatorship, many Kenyans that are hypnotized by tyranny have added parliamentary dictatorship that they call “tyranny of numbers” to ethnic and Executive dictatorships. With these dictatorships, oppressive laws are passed with no resistance because opposition in parliament is too weak.
In particular, ethnic dictatorship ensures that communities have only one political ideology, one political party and even determines how communities vote to choose leadership. It is also ethnic dictatorship that ensures that leadership from outside the community is never embraced within any community.
Without much notice, dictatorship also ensures that jobs, services and development are accessed not because citizens are tax payers but because they are politically correct and loyal.
Finally, dictatorship is slowly eroding the independence of Judiciary, forcing it to align its decisions, rulings and judgments to dictates of political leadership.
People may ignore all we have said here, but when dictatorship is fully in place, we shall have lost all the freedoms and rights that took many years to secure from the tyranny of one party state.
President Uhuru, it is better to be a democrat than a dictator. You should resist all attempts to tyrannize you.