In Summary
  • The charge was that I was subtly campaigning for Jubilee and it was a new low for me when journalists are supposed to be neutral. Though I didn’t even notice his reflector until I got on — I would have hired him even if I did.
  • The coping mechanism I’ve seen employed by most people is to attack the speaker personally in a bid to discredit what they are saying, instead of making a counter-argument.
  • The usual suspects are well known and even when they call for violence in the name of their party leader, it is surprising that there has been no condemnation from within their ranks.

Stuck in the heart of Mombasa’s Changamwe neighbourhood and running late for my flight to Nairobi on Sunday, I hailed a boda boda and raced to the airport. The rider, an efficient, soft-spoken gentleman, was wearing a red Jubilee-branded reflector jacket. I posted the picture on my social media pages, where it quickly led to a firestorm of controversy.

The charge was that I was subtly campaigning for Jubilee and it was a new low for me when journalists are supposed to be neutral. Though I didn’t even notice his reflector until I got on — I would have hired him even if I did — Nasa supporters were offended that I was showing such open bias.

Our national conversation has dropped so far that an innocent ride on a bike with someone who got a free reflector jacket is seen as a political statement. Even if it was, the intolerance Kenyans have for people who disagree with them has always been ridiculous. I don’t know if it is a failure of our education system or our socialisation, but we are not built to consider opposing views.

The coping mechanism I’ve seen employed by most people is to attack the speaker personally in a bid to discredit what they are saying, instead of making a counter-argument.

The well held maxim “don’t raise your voice, improve your argument” is completely lost on some Kenyans.

Every good point goes to die on Facebook, but political rallies have become the new vehicles for particularly vicious ad hominem attacks.

These are the early days of the campaign for the fresh presidential election but politicians are ratcheting up the rhetoric in new and surprising ways.

Speaking before adoring crowds, leaders are taking liberty with the truth, playing fast and loose with facts and often just plainly lying without an ounce of shame.

This is how the game is played in Kenya but the stakes are higher now more than ever and restraint should be obvious for any responsible speakers.

Yet all we’ve seen are rallies where senior leaders in the country sometimes just make up stuff and shout it loud to the masses.

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