I really enjoy reading George Orwell, even though many people would say that he often wrote about dismal societies, one would think that his works were kind of depressing. But they show a reality and sometimes a reflection looking at what is happening in our country, I cannot help but think about his book 1984. He wrote this book in the late 1940’s about what the future of society looked like.
In summary it speaks about a young man who lives in a society where, you are not permitted to socialize. People work to make a living and not ask questions most are young, the older generation are very few and no one is really sure why. All media is controlled and there is a narrative spread throughout the country about their history, which is false. There is also the presence of police in tankers, just everywhere to intimidate you not to go against the grain they are called the ‘thought police’. You are not allowed to think differently or ask questions, anyone who did suspiciously went missing.
After quite a laborious election a few months ago, there are still remnants of tension when it comes to the political discourse in Kenya. After August we witnessed large civil society organizations being intimidated to silence, and several cases of riots and police shootings. Some reports demonstrate as high as 35 – 50 people lost their lives during that period in the hands of the police and to this very day no one has been held to account for those deaths.
The nullification of the August elections, forced us into an unprepared election in October, which birthed a resistance push for reforms in the electoral process. Taking a naïve approach, there appears to be two sides: one begging for the country to move on because of the economic ramifications the elections caused. The price of maize flour almost doubled, high cost of fuel and even electric power.
Statistics demonstrate that there is inflation in the country. The economy was slow during that period and business terrible. Then on the other side of the divide there is another begging the country to reform systems for the sake of democracy for the good of all. To have systems in place that tackle historical injustices and promote equality for all citizens in the country.
When Mr. Raila Odinga chose not to take part in the October fresh election, most of his supporters chose not to partake in the event. Afterwards, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) led by Mr. Raila Odinga was created and used as a mechanism to call for more transparent, fair and credible elections, by taking economic actions such as boycotting certain products.
However, the movement slowly dwindled and quickly became an opposition tool and anyone associated with not voting in October was branded to be opposition. January 30th, Mr. Raila Odinga took an oath as the People’s President and the following day, CS Matiangi announced that NRM was an illegal group.
Major television stations that covered the event live have been off air since now and no one is quite sure of when they will be back on air. There are reports of journalists threatened with arrest and individuals involved in the oath being arrested. Yet, here we are going on with life as though there is nothing major in our country. Frankly, people do not know where to begin. What do you say? What can you say? Or what can you do? So rather than worry that we are slowly slipping into a dictatorial nation and freedoms are violated once in a while, we behave as though nothing is happening.
Back to our 1984 similarities, in relation to the ‘thought police’ that I spoke of, we see a certain message constantly being repeated, that the President is focusing on his big 4 agenda. “The big 4” it has been drilled into our heads, that he will be focusing on universal healthcare, affordable housing, manufacturing and food security. We see puppets sent to continuously mention the big 4 in every press briefing, or opinion leaders to mention it in their columns of the kind of legacy that he would like to leave behind in his second term.
And that everything that the government is doing is for our own good. 1984 doesn’t have a good ending, as several of George Orwell’s books. But something stood out, many people go through life mindlessly, and like sheep the government is proud to control the mind of the people. However, if those sheep knew they were sheep, that realization is the first step toward change, otherwise we will die sheep without knowing we were sheep to begin with.