I have lost count on the friends who have joined politics and wish to contest the August 2017 elections.
Surprisingly, virtually all of them need not bother with the rigours and headaches of politics as they are accomplished in various fields. These are not people looking for a job in politics.
Many are seeking seats starting from MCA (which has lately become quite attractive) all the way to governor.
I have not seen any going for the Presidency; the ‘lions’ at that level seem to basically remain the same.
But why politics? I have sought answers from diverse people of various calibres, different standing in society and diverse professions on this phenomenon.
A theme that kept recurring is that it’s part of human self-actualisation (going by a theory in psychology called “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 Theory of Human Motivation).
Others have posited that the phenomenon is driven by some who have gotten some kind of ‘dirty’ money and wealth and would want to protect it by getting political posts.
Whatever the motivation, the politics as played in our country leaves a lot to be desired.
To begin with, the demand for the politicians’ money by the electorate is too much. The demand for their time is also significant.
I have seen politicians forced to fork out hefty handouts cumulatively to be at peace with the electorate.
The numbers of problems they are supposed to solve for the electorate, some of personal nature, are enormous.
Hence the many reasons politicians are viewed as ATMs (automated teller machines) for the electorate.
Going by what I have continuously found on the ground, it is almost impossible to win a political seat without bribing, or almost bribing, the electorate to like you.
Forget those policies, manifestos and other dreams such as ideologies. Besides tribe and clans or such, plus the party euphoria, you need to literally warm yourself to their heart through money and goodies.
I’m also reliably informed that, in numerous cases, to even win nominations of popular parties you have to literally beat the numerous hurdles set by party leaders and also use a lot of money.
Yes, there are those who win popularly, but in many or most of the cases the ‘Benjamins’ (cash) calls the shots.
After winning, the cycle of handouts and development projects some meant to appease people has to continue.
In essence, people will demand development (rightfully so) plus tonnes or handouts.
Understandably, poverty is part of the driving forces of this habit. The other is the political culture perpetuated over time. It is no wonder reports or allegations of abuse of various funds are rife.
Yet many want to be in politics due to the pull and push factors. Besides fame and power, there are numerous other hidden motivations.
I have travelled with politicians and the madness you see can at times be scary. That notwithstanding, politics is an adored career in Kenya.
Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda, Nairobi