Friday, November 25, 2005

Oranges are BANANAS

If you’re peculiar, you may know that Africa is a continent, not a country. If you’re exceedingly strange you’ll know that there’s more going on in Africa than war, famine, disease, corruption. And if you’re positively irredeemable you may know that a referendum on the proposed Kenyan constitution was held earlier this week.
The draft constitution was years in the making but in the end it proved too contentious to be approved by parliament, so it was put to a national vote. The government threw its weight behind the campaign for its adoption while a few rebel cabinet ministers joined hands with the official opposition KANU in opposing it. The government staked much political capital on the outcome of the referendum. And as often happens when so much is at stake, the campaigns quickly took an acrimonious turn. But the referendum was carried out without incident. The draft constitution was rejected by 58.3% of those who voted. It might well be said that the government lost because it was arrogant and out of touch. One pundit, Macharia, says that draft constitution was rejected, because it was in effect a referendum on the government’s performance. A government that was perceived to be intent on producing a document that catered for its interests, to wink at corruption in its ranks, to have reneged on its pre-election agreement with coalition partners, blah, blah, blah. It’s all well and good but rather superficial. I know better; the government lost for two reasons: poor choice or emblem, and the failure to learn from the experience of neighbours.
The government choose the banana as the emblem for its campaign. A more ill advised preference would be hard to find: Had the yes campaign prevailed; Kenya would have been the butt of many banana republic jokes. Kenyans prize their country’s reputation for peace and stability far too highly to risk its being made fun of. Having sacrificed liberty, dignity, prosperity . .…. they cannot suffer their country being called a banana republic even in jest. At the end of the day the referendum was a not so much about the draft constitution as it was a choice between the orange, the no campaign’s symbol, and the banana as the national logo. In choosing the orange, the people also embraced the colour orange, the no campaign’s official colour, which is curious because Kenyan oranges are green in color.
That hurdle, however, could have been surmounted had the Kenyan government sought the advise of President Museveni of neighbouring Uganda, the man with the enviable record of never having lost an election or referendum; unconstitutional or otherwise. Had the Kenyan leaders picked the Ugandan president’s brain, they might have found out that one must make sure of the desired result before and after the election. Not by campaigning exhaustively and ensuring free and fair elections, dah! But by intimidating the wits out of your opponents and their supporters – inventing charges against them, throwing them in jail, whatever it takes – during the period leading up to elections, and on Election Day. And by stuffing ballot boxes, revising figures on Election day.

4 Comments:

At December 07, 2005 4:29 AM , Anonymous Grand Muffti said...

Turns out Muffti is peculiarly strange, but no more beyond that...

 
At December 07, 2005 6:59 AM , Blogger jinan said...

Ha?

 
At December 07, 2005 11:27 AM , Anonymous Grand Muffti said...

You said:
If you’re peculiar, you may know that Africa is a continent, not a country. If you’re exceedingly strange you’ll know that there’s more going on in Africa than war, famine, disease, corruption. And if you’re positively irredeemable you may know that a referendum on the proposed Kenyan constitution was held earlier this week.
Muffti is exceedingly strange. But not irredemable.

 
At December 09, 2005 8:26 AM , Blogger jinan said...

Good, there's hope for you then!

 

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