In Praise of Feelings by Godwin Murunga

There are two statements I heard in the last several weeks that simply are infuriating. The first one has been that whatever happens, all Kenyans have won. Well, I did not win anything. They won and I lost and they don’t care about me/us or our feelings.

The second one has been the call to keep peace. It felt like that old notice at the door of a boardroom declaring ‘Silence, Meeting in Progress.’ Joseph Ki-Zerbo reframed this into ‘Silence, Development in Progress.’ Today in Kenya, it feels like ‘Silence, Peace in Progress.’ In the end, we have traded peace for justice and convinced ourselves that the two cannot co-exist. This trade-off also happened five years ago. But hidden behind silence are people with conflicting feelings.

Now we are postponing feelings. We say let’s wait for the full ruling because the court was not mandated to rule on the basis of feelings. I agree; the SCOK has no room for feelings; it has a mandate to rule on the basis of the law. They ruled and confirmed my right to be disappointed. It is their ruling that fuelled feelings, feeling of victory and loss. I have the right to feel disappointed with their ruling and, in spite of their reasons, express my feelings of disappointment.

The same applies to those who feel they won; they are entitled to feel victorious and express those feelings even to the point of mocking me. Not only have they mocked me, they have also told me that they are guaranteed another ten years; for, as one professor said of Kibaki, it is bad manners in Africa for an incumbent president to lose an election.

I refuse to suppress feelings, postpone them until I can engage in rational discoursing around the full SCOK ruling. Right now, reasons suck. I will rationalise as an intellectual exercise later; much, much later. Right now, I want to challenge the tyranny of numbers. Dismiss them through my feelings. Numbers alone never built a nation, quite often they dismantle nations.

I want feelings to gush like crazy, I want to vent where I can and to simply wonder how come, from my uninformed perspective, the court reached a verdict which is generating such feelings of deep disappointment.

I do not want answers now, answers also suck. I want this to remain a question, with a huge question mark. If I could, I feel the question marks should be posted on the door of the SCOK. But I can’t; they say that even this innocent act is hate speech.

I want to express feelings, feelings that suggest to me that my vote does not count and will never count any time soon; that I have no business voting again because the owners of this country have it by the, you know what I intend to say; and while they can allow me to vote, they will decide if to count my vote. They even say that the result is the voice of God.

I want feelings that say to me that I am better off taking a job, as Shrek would say, far, far away. In any case, I am a citizen of the world. Kenya can do without me; after all, I am inconsequential to the wider scheme of things in Kenya and I know that only too well after two general elections.

I, of course, will wonder later why these feelings come when it is the same me who packed my bags only two weeks after defending my thesis to fly home because I could not wait to make my contribution. I couldn’t even wait for the graduation ceremony and have never since put on a doctoral gown.

It is seven years down the line and I have had the feelings of quitting twice, the first time in January 2008 and now. How come these feelings overwhelm me now? Why do I think that years of struggle are wasted and useless; that when next time the feelings we are being encouraged to bottle up decide to explode and consume the country, I should simply stand up and say, I told you. You should have unleashed those feeling then.

Let feelings prevail, we will talk about the ruling much, much later. After all, the ruling was brief, sharp and final and left no room for discussion.

Godwin Murunga