From exorbitant gym membership fees and unusually priced pens catered for by our taxes to recurring scandals involving obscene amounts of money, it is very clear that Kenya’s leadership is pure pandemonium but there isn’t much agreement on why the situation is as it is. Is it that we keep trusting the wrong people or does the job transform generally good people once they are elected?
Let me tell you about the Stanford Prison experiment. In 1971 an experiment was conducted by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo where he simulated a typical prison. In this experiment, he got volunteers to play the roles of prison guards and prisoners. Each of these individuals knew that the roles they were playing weren’t real but soon enough they broke into the different traits associated with the characters they were playing. The “prison guards” became very harsh and brutal while the “prisoners” became quite rebellious with a few becoming hysterical, which is normal in a prison. The experiment only ran for six days but those were enough for the situation to become quite realistic. The volunteers completely transformed into the characters popularly associated with the roles they were playing, suggesting that a person’s situation has more influence on the way they behave than than their characters. People are more likely to conform.
Back to Kenya. I believe the larger majority of this great country’s electorate is mature and of sound mind. We vote for the people we perceive to be most capable of leading us but a few months in office give us completely different results. While there might be a few rotten potatoes who somehow get voted in, most of these people have relatively clean records. So who is to blame for the unending shenanigans?
From the very beginning of formal government, leadership has not been very angelic. The colonial government imposed positions of power on our unsuspecting forefathers and used these to terrorize and steal from them. Some good might have come from the situation, but this is heavily outweighed by the numerous loss of lives, land and unmentionable methods of instilling fear. Subconsciously, in the minds of our forefathers the idea that leadership involves mass looting and abuse/misuse of power was registering. When power and self-government was handed over to our forefathers they upheld these wrong ideals that were inherited from the colonial government. These have since been passed down to new generations who are eager to fill the nasty shoes of their predecessors, perhaps even outdo them. It is a legacy. A radio personality who is much revered because of her proper ideals was voted in as a Women Representative but the first statement she made in her new capacity was in support of an increment of her salary, the first of which she had not received because she was barely a month in office.
So here’s what we need to do. We need to transform the image politics and leadership has into one of mutual responsibility and integrity. We must emancipate ourselves from the expectations of leadership that were so unjustly instilled in our forefathers and handed down to us. Our former colonial master had quite a sound leadership system in their own country but they did not uphold the same here, so why should we copy this and sanctify it as we have?
It is time to change the qualities associated with leadership from corruption and impunity to justice, morality, integrity and responsibility. This is the only way to guarantee a sane generation of leadership with ideals worth passing down.