A few weeks ago, Kenyans woke up to the news of the death of President Moi who ruled the country for close to three decades. It was clear that the country’s opinion was divided: Most people in my generation thought of him simply as a dictator, my parents’ generation on the other hand perceived his leadership with a bit more reverence. Despite all these, the controversy surrounding his leadership was irrefutable: From the corruption perpetrated by his puppets, the embezzlement of millions of dollars of government money, the sustenance of a culture of election fraud and violence, the years of human right abuse and tens of unsolved murders. As I watched the country react to the news from my dorm room, I couldn’t help but put myself in the shoes of the thousands of people that had fallen victim to post-election violence: A sight that has been familiar in the history of Kenyan elections.
Kenya’s elections have been marred by a history of violence: From the brutality orchestrated by the ruling party in the first “multi-party elections” held by the Moi regime in 1992 that claimed the lives of about 1,500 Kenyans, to the aftermath of the conflict-struck 2007 Kenya election resulting in the death of 1,133 people and displacement of more than 630,000 Kenyans. Our politicians have for so long played on the ethnic stratification that marks the country, and incited violence. Even though the country’s election history has been rather dark, it is important to acknowledge the strides civic education has allowed us make. On a previous paper published on Academia, I highlight how “civic education is crucial in elections because it not only enables citizens to become conscious of political players in the governance of their respective countries, but it also enables them to fully appreciate the values of negotiation, dialogue, good governance, participation, the rule of law, accountability, diversity, tolerance, and democracy.”
The youth have played an amazing role in “making the rule of law centre stage in our political systems” and de-ethnicizing our politics these past few years. From peace and civic education initiatives organized by African Leadership Academy alumni, Sophie Anunda and Eddie Oketch , the youth have been at the forefront of driving a revolution of Kenyan politics, and redirect the youth’s energy into more positive ventures. It is prudent that we embrace the role civic education will play on the evolution of African politics and guiding the African renaissance. I for one share Thabo Mbeki’s understanding of “African renaissance” as “the beginning of the journey towards the continent’s political, social and economic rebirth” and I most certainly believe that equipping the next generation of voters with the necessary knowledge to vote wisely would serve any country well. If we are to learn anything from this, it should be that It is time we took charge of our futures and work towards crafting societies where the rule of law are centre stage of our political systems.