Emotions; the predicament to our development

In the market place of politics when reason and emotions collide, emotions always take the day. This is because we are always inclined with what we feel more than the real and true facts about a certain situation. This is evidently seen during the time for elections where most electorates vote by how they feel towards a certain candidate, their political party and lastly their policies or political manifestos. The emotions are normally pegged on certain characteristics such as, the ethnicity of the candidates, their gender, issues that surround him personally and which the electorates relate to, his/her age group, race and to some the “swag” that he has.

When Barrack Obama was elected on November 4, 2008 and sworn in on January 20, 2009 many analysts said that he won based on the policies he articulated during his campaign but the major influence was based on how the Democratic Party campaign team was able to capture the emotions of most electorates especially the youth and the African-Americans. He related to them based on age and race. The other percentage of voters, voted for him based on his policies (reasons). Thus both the reason and emotion played a role in his election but emotion was the major factor for those who voted for and against him.

To bring the argument closer home, the Jubilee government was elected based on the emotions surrounding the ICC issue. Most people couldn’t stand the fact that a Kenyan will stand trial before an International Court. Emotions played a major factor and reason was nowhere to be seen despite the fact that thousands were displaced during the 2007/2008 post-election violence and thousands killed. This doesn’t mean those who have been charged before the International Criminal Court are guilty or not but only stresses the point that emotions drive our Kenyan politics. Also when a politician or a leader is charged for corruption he/she runs to his ethnic region and incites the people that it is not him/her being targeted but the community at large. The aftermath is demonstrations from the community through protesting and barricading roads.

90% of the elected leaders we voted for during the last election were purely not voted in because we believed in their policies and manifestos or their track records of good performance. We voted based on who we felt had warmed our hearts. This was based on the status we envisioned a leader to have, the depth of his pockets, the tribe he comes from, and lastly what traits he posses such as dressing and the language he uses that we tend to relate with. As a country we have made crucial decisions based on our emotions and most of these decisions have come back to haunt us. For example when we voted for the constitution majority never had the time to read it but voted for it based on what their favorite politician was advocating for. Today the same politicians who were for the constitution are now advocating for a referendum because the constitution is not benefiting them as they thought it could. Sadly we still let our emotions cloud our judgement and again we follow the same politicians without asking each other what are the real issues they are advocating for and if we support the call for a plebiscite what benefit are we going to enjoy as a common mwananchi?

Our politicians have mastered the art of manipulating our emotions to their own advantage and this is why when the Supreme Court made a verdict against the CORD Coalition, its leaders started organizing rallies to criticize and tarnish the image of the Supreme Court arousing rage within their members that caused tension within the country. Also we are currently witnessing a wave of violence from our County Governments such as Makueni, Nandi and elsewhere where leaders who we feel we are emotionally connected to, incite us to wage war amongst ourselves yet we ignore the fact that they are simply playing politics and using us to settle political scores. A time has come for us as Kenyans to activate our reasoning gear and deactivate part our emotions.

We need to hold our leaders personally accountable to what is happening within our Country. We need to stop supporting the “thug” kind of leaders we elected and we’ve got to stop letting them manipulate us to support them yet all they are after is to enrich themselves alone.

We need to always ask ourselves, what will I benefit if I support a certain cause being advocated for by our leaders? Why should we demonstrate and what benefit will it accord me as an individual? It is time, fellow countrymen, to let reason prevail in our politics. Let us support our leaders by the content of their past and present performances and let us not allow emotions to cloud our judgement from now hence forth if we still want to achieve vision 2030.

Article by

Dennis Mwaniki

A political Scientist


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