The Mugendalets are at it again. This time, they’ve effectively crossed the threshold from being a reprehensible minute institution full of primitive energy to being an international (I blame this on Thika Road) institution still full of primitive energy. Their primal nature has never shone brighter than when students are getting ready to elect their next leaders.
I have no problem with students’ right to vote; Democracy is imperative. What gets my goat is the inculpable nonsense that passes for campaigns in Kenyan institutions of higher learning. Our campaigns are malignant, uncouth, morally distorted and – get this – cursed with an evil eye.
I am an environmentalist, and the way these politicians and their dissident sycophants plaster campaign posters left, right and center really chaps my shorts. Placards, banners and leaflets are posted on every spare square inch on campus, causing untold harm to our eye sights. And as if that is not enough, the maniacs never bother to clean up their trash. Wangare Maathai’s ashes must be very furious wherever they are. Common sense ideals like disposing a politician’s manifesto into a dustbin (where it belongs) have gone the way of the dodo. The once clean and green environment is now but a garish hoarding intrusive to our eyes.
Tribalism is another anathema that has gripped campus politics. No matter how good your policies seem, there are people who will shy away from voting you in simply because of the accident of birth in a certain group. Politicians know this, and that’s why they play the trump card to manipulate the voters. Just the other day, a popular candidate vying for school presidency mounted the rostrum only to disappoint students by addressing them in his mother tongue. Some even take the filth to social media where they spew hateful and abusive vitriol. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Sometimes I get convinced that whoever came up with the expression ‘Politics is a dirty game’ must have been an observer of campus elections. I almost shed a tear the other day when I came across a phalanx of comrades harassing bodaboda operators by forcing them to stick campaign posters on their motorcycles. Hired hooligans run rampant across the campus, acting like raving fools on a mid-term break from the Mathare Institute of the Mentally Profane. Another card from the bag of tricks is bribing their rascally drink-loving comrades with beer. When did we sink this low?
Am not suggesting it’s impossible to find a candidate who plays nice. Lightening has been known to strike the same place twice. But being the nice candidate, sorry to say, won’t earn you any votes.
When did brazen lies start being paraded around as policies? Some of these lies are so blatant that you have to be high on crack so as to buy them. Don’t believe a word of that “I’ll solve the missing-mark issue when I get elected” street talk. It’s nothing but red meat for display on manifestos. The good news, however, is that nobody has the time to read through the mendacity in campaign banners.
But sometimes I think all it takes for people to vote you in is good looks. If you aren’t easy on the eyes, I suggest you shelve any ambitions of ever being a student leader. Take note to Photoshop your pictures while designing your campaign posters. Do not waste time in formulating policies. Instead, work on getting a set of artificial hips so you can display a geometric figure on the posters.
I wouldn’t finalise my litany without pointing out the foolhardiness of candidates who spend prodigious amounts of cash on the campaign trail. They parade around campus in rented limos and hired buses with a goal of bamboozling the electorate with their affluence. Some of them have god-fathers who fund their campaigns to the tune of millions; stupid ones have applied for youth loans. I am worried that with such kind of spending, a few of my comrades might have just incurred the type of debt usually associated with third world countries.
They’re asinine politicians; these comrades of mine.