What Did You Expect From The #VPMeetUp?

I didn’t attend any of the events with the PM or the VP. I can’t really remember what I was doing at the time, but I didn’t bother to sign up either. Call me unpatriotic or less concerned. I’ve been accused of calling other so. I’ll take it well. I promise.

I however kept myself updated following live tweets on my TL. And just like that Mindspeak meet-up with Museveni, I waited for the postmortem detailed blogposts. And yes, here they are. For what it’s worth, I think we should have some more. They’re quite entertaining and in a sense, therapeutic.

Therapeutic because, it appears quite a number of tweeps had their hopes high up there like I hope of owning a G5 aeroplane. Really, tweeple, what did you expect?

  • That you’d crack the VP bad-cop style?
  • That you’d ask a question so tear jerking that would leave the man stuttering and running for the fire escape?
  • That you’d get the time and chance to tell the man to his face all the things we say on the TL?
  • That you’d play truth or dare with him?

Granted, we who have a voice on the social media should regard ourselves different, a unique niche of the wider electorate. It’s easy to assume that we think and act different from the folks that occupy the 4th estate and other actual experts. And by thinking of ourselves as different, perhaps we believe we should be treated different, even with a little more respect.

But honestly, what is this one question you’d have asked, that the man wouldn’t have side stepped? Of all the pro-journalists who may have interviewed the man or will interview him someday – Julie Gichuru, Beatrice Marshal, Linus Kaikai and for good measure, let’s throw in CNN’s David McKenzie – wouldn’t he sidestep them too? Wouldn’t they be left as high, dry, wasted, entertained and complaining like they had just been to the Nairobi Show?

From the depths of my whereabouts that day (can’t still get my coordinates), I noted with pride those who attended the VP meet. Like you took a pilgrimage to a land known to produce watermelons, hoping that perhaps this time round, by some miracle, you’ll find mangos. And if you’ll still find the melons, you’ll mash them to pulp until they turn into mangos.

It was worth a try. But sadly, the flock of our politicians are not about to change. Like the saying goes, why fix what’s not broken? The VP’s over two decades in politics have been so successful for him using a self-designed strategy that will baffle any 10 year old. Why should he change it then, just because he was sipping drinks with a few KOTs? The sadly smart man figured: Why don’t I gather these peculiar lot around, sit them on my lap and try to figure them out without letting them figure out my psyche.

So what’s next, some may ask? # MugukaWithSonko #KufyashNaTuju #CigarsWithUhuru #MilkWithMututho

The possibilities are endless.

But here’s what I would do. I’d ignore them all. The same way they’ve ignored my plight, my voice and my very existence. Because there’s nothing more powerful than ignoring someone who has the power to insult your intelligence.

Oh, how I long for the day when a politician will call for a political rally at Uhuru Park and no one shows up. The message couldn’t be louder and clearer. We’re tired of the same old bull. Take the hogwash and false promises to the birds.

But no, we’ll always go. And they know it.

Like people suffering from battered-wife syndrome, we will always be there to attend to their every need. We will come up with campaign strategies for them and offer to print t-shirts, caps, posters and banners for politicians who’ve just realized we exist. For people whose track record we question even after they’ve painted it for us, in all shades and colours of the rainbow.

Yes, we are the same folks who admonish the media for paying too much attention to our politicians. Look at us now? We can’t ignore them. They have us by the nuts and they’ll come up with all sorts of products and sell them to us right at our doorstep.

And if they can’t package it as a political rally, they’ll throw in a few prosperity-gospel preachers and call it a prayer rally. If that’s too expensive, they’ll gladly attend our pomp-filled funerals and sell their agendas on our forefathers’ graves. We are so duped, so yearning for their 0.02cents worth. We’ll give them our time, our expertise and everything we’ve got, but they won’t let us in on much.

What would it hurt to ignore them until they start working? Until they pay their taxes, until they hire some more teachers with the same ease they pass bills like they are selling them at a kiosk.  Why do you have to keep hooking up with someone that pisses you off when you can always say: “Sorry dude, I’ll be doing something less important at the time. Like oh, I don’t know, watching flies on a wall.”

If at all the revolution will be tweeted, then we tweeps need to stand out from our fellow brothers and sisters we see on TV. The ones chasing after politicians’ motorcades like they’re now gathering around that Equity caravan like they’ll be given loans by winning a dancing competition. If we consider ourselves different then we need to act different. Value ourselves differently. Weigh every beck and call before approaching that finger saying “Oh come all ye faithful!”

Perhaps it’s time to adopt a new strategy like Ignore, Don’t Show Up or Walk Away, especially if the mangoes we demand are not forthcoming.

16 thoughts on “What Did You Expect From The #VPMeetUp?

  1. “What would it hurt to ignore them until they start working? Until they pay their taxes, until they hire some more teachers with the same ease they pass bills like they are selling them at a kiosk.”

    To answer this question, Nittzsah, I think it’d hurt us a whole lot. The problem here is that political/election fever is checking in, and none of us are exempt, much as we’d love to be.

    The way I see it, these meetups, and ‘ins’ that are being presented by these politicians and camps ought to be a post 2012 strategy. Like you say, we do need to stand out. Like I said, a lot of sycophancy was dominant, especially at the VPMeetup. The possible advantage presented here is that we know those who’ve been hired/contracted to run these ‘social media gimmicks’. We have channels of accountability, and it’s time we saw them for that. It’s time to start demanding those responses we want on crucial matters, through the media that have presented themselves.

    Ignoring politicians, or political matters, in my opinion, is like putting one’s head in a paper bag, and convincing self that it’s a breath of fresh air!

    Thanks for the pingback by the way.

  2. I think that for KoT who attend these events, at least speaking for myself, it’s to get an actual first-hand account of actual statements. The 4th estate has many times distorted statements for their own agenda. Also, we need to be more pro active in our politics as opposed to reactionary ie. politicians misbehave and we ignore/riot. The problem lies in being reactionary to issues..

    • Positive way to look at it – the idea of being pro-active instead of reactionary. To carry on this discussion:-

      1. In being proactive, how ELSE can we stop a politician from misbehaving other than meeting him personally and getting a 1st hand account of his political agenda and his general worldview?
      2. How can we extend these pro-active solutions to the larger reactionary populace that rush to these rallies without a 2nd thought?

      • I’d like to know, why do you think you meeting a politician will make him feel more accountable to you, and not to the millions he interacts with everyday?

        If the sight of children starving doesn’t move them, a smart ass tweep won’t. Ok. I will shut up now.

      • @RookieKe you misunderstand my motive for going, it’s simply to hear it from the horse’s mouth with my own ears. Unedited by the biases and preferences of those looking for news.

        @Nittzsah the suggestion on being pro-active, it’s looking at problems we have as a country and trying in our own small way to help. This is a better approach in my opinion than ignoring the one of the causes of our problems which is vehemently YES our corrupt and immoral politicians.

        We all know that they have their shortcomings, but we also need to look at ourselves and what we can do to make things better. Which I think, feel and believe is a lot more than we’re doing now. We need to stop pointing fingers and start using our hands, minds, money, any and all available resources we have, to collectively improve our lot.

      • Forgive me for eavesdropping on your response to @RookieKe. I find it rather doubtful coming from someone who’s had a brush with a media house as a TV host. But if you’re now speaking for the other attendees who may have never come close to a news editing suite, then your response holds some water.

        As regards the next response, I must clarify that it is NOT about ignoring the problem but rather the politician. And those two can be separated. How? Let’s take Kenyans for Kenya for example. To quote you: we “stop(ped) pointing fingers and start(ed) using our hands, minds, money, any and all available resources we have, to collectively improve our lot.”

        We didn’t waste time trying to reach out to our political class. We didn’t bother knocking on their doors, asking them to heed to the rumbling stomachs in Northern Kenya. We didn’t even ask them to change their attitude. We forged ahead. And see how much we accomplished without their rhetoric. What then are we looking up to them for?

      • “In being proactive, how ELSE can we stop a politician from misbehaving other than meeting him personally and getting a 1st hand account of his political agenda and his general worldview?”

        This one is tough, and yes I do agree somewhat with the ‘publicity blackout’ train of thought. Perhaps it is to go to the meetings hard facts at hand, ask your questions, if you feel they are not sufficiently addressed then, write a post analyzing in-depth why. For example, I admire this kind of watchman initiative by Ory Okolloh http://www.mzalendo.com/blog/ even though it’s not spawn out of meetings such as #mogakawithKalonzo . Perhaps it’s to create an online environment that truly and completely differentiates itself from our fourth estate, by being the media in which hard, unbiased fact and analysis can be found.

        “How can we extend these pro-active solutions to the larger reactionary populace that rush to these rallies without a 2nd thought?”

        The future is the internet, the near future at that. I am an avid believer in this. Online content is quickly claiming the crown that print, TV and radio once had. Build slowly, build it well, expect the blood, sweat and tears and yes one day they will come.

      • .., and they certainly will. And as self-styled content creators and gatekeepers of the .Ke twitter and blogospheres we should not allow ourselves to be compromised to the extent that the media has. We should act differently if we’re going to bring about the change the institutions we’ve trusted in the past have failed to achieve. The question is then, what are these things we can do differently? What will set us apart in a way the publics that look up to us members of the 5th estate can count on us to deliver. We have the resources. We’ve claimed our place. Already, people are looking up to the likes of Okolloh, you and maybe me as well. How can we ensure we don’t fail them?

  3. I like the innocence with which people go for these meet ups. Who hasn’t heard Raila speak at a rally? Or Kalonzo? Do you expect him to say something different because you’re special?

    Ignoring them will make them think of maybe a different story. One that involves actual work and a track record, something that speaks for itself. Like I said on Twitter, unless you have a clear agenda that meeting a politician will help you pursue, you’re wasting your time, they’re trained liars.

  4. @rookieKE, I must ask, where has that school of thought led us? True, politics in this country has nothing but a negative connotation to it, but even as @nittzsah pointed out how Kenyans rallied behind k4k, please remember that they’ll only ever be one body that caters to public interest, however abused that body may be. And said body is: THE GOVERNMENT.

    We have to be conscious and cautious about our sentiments and reactions to politicians and all matters politics. Apathy is what you describe, ignoring their ‘gimmicks’ and moving on to the next order of business. Do remember that they come from the very same pot of stew we are brewing in, to put it metaphorically. What you see in these people is not a reflection of who we are not, let’s just face that.

    I, for one, haven’t attended either forum expecting to wake up to a better Kenya the following day. One simple question I always ask myself, and others: in your actions/inactions, in your words/silence, are you part of the problem or the solution?

    • I’m not just part of the solution, I have also proposed an alternative solution. And one that’s not been tried before. Though it’s a hard sell, I think it’s worth a try. I doubt boycotting rallies is illegal. It is also not inaction/ silence. By boycotting their classrooms, teachers are not being silent. They couldn’t have spoken louder at this time.

  5. @Nittzsah you speak for the both of us. @Msupastar I still don’t see how listening to a politician is helping the government function better. Honestly, I don’t. Let’s do citizen driven civil education, lets do voter education, heck let’s pick placards and march down the streets etc. The government is in trouble because the voting masses are uneducated or don’t care, and attending a political rally, no matter how elitist won’t change that.

    For example, what did you learn about Raila you didn’t know? What did he say he hasn’t said in the past? What impact did you make on his manifesto, campaign strategy or the fact that as a PM he was an enabler of Anglo Leasing and many other scandals by attending his session? By meeting you, is he a better leader? I doubt it. *shrug*

    Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about focusing on what you can do instead of worries over which you have no control, and talks about the two circles, circle of influence and circle of concern. In my opinion, casting your vote, or educating the next person on how to vote right would be working within your circle of influence if you believe in our democratic system. . Attending a political rally to listen to rhetoric, is one of those other things. Ok, I rest my case on here now.

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