Jill Cottrell Ghai and Yash Pal Ghai
17 Sept 2017
Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet cursed the warring families (we might say tribes) of the Montagues and the Capulets and their meaningless feud that was killing him.
We suspect many Kenyans feel like this as they read their news media, printed or social, and wonder if it has to be so. Yash Ghai thinks not. The first part of this article is his.
When I was a graduate student at Oxford, the College regularly invited distinguished politicians, ministers and civil servants for discussions with staff and students on topical issues.
I paid particular attention to politicians (as Kenya was about to become independent). I met politicians of all three major parties. I used to provoke Tories, because I had the notion that they were the imperialists, and had soft corner for the Labour members because they were on the side of freedom. They, naturally, had all different things to say and presented different points of view. They also expressed these views at election times and were judged accordingly. And if they were elected, you could see their policies resembled what they had promised the electorate. That was an important lesson in democracy.
I was also very impressed at a personal level. They all seemed very earnest and were prepared to sit into the small hours defending their policies and listening to us. Since Ali Mazrui was a fellow student, you can imagine that we gave the Tories a hard time. Most parliamentarians invited us to meet them when we were in London for further discussions and to see the proceedings of Parliament, after lunch in the parliamentary restaurant. There was no pomposity.
Some research showed me that they all had a distinguished career of one kind or another, which had given up to go into politics, where they earned much less. Most attended Parliament regularly and went to their constituencies over the weekend, where they were available to be consulted, or complained against, regardless of their party affiliation.
Elections did not cause much expenditure. I knew of no example where elections bankrupted the government! Government did not have to launch a bond on domestic or foreign markets for 'necessary' funds.
It was extremely, extremely rare for a politician to change political parties and then only for policy differences not for money. Voters had a real choice of policies, for each party offered a distinct set of priorities... Click here to read the full article.