Principles of Democracy



There is no one universal definition and practice of democracy. Indeed, Democracy as practiced by USA, Britain, India and all the other great democracies in the world differ a great deal.


However, there are two basic tenets upon which democracy hinges, viz:


1) That all the members of the society (citizens) have equal access to power.


2) That all citizens enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties


In a democracy, access to power is mainly through voting. Thus, ‘equal access to power’ implies an assumed equality, in numerical terms, among the various groups of members of the society competing for the same. Any numerical differences among the members of the society leads to feelings of marginalization of the smaller groups which may ultimately be exploited by some people to cause strife … the second principle will not be worth the paper its written on, the assumption being that once a group is denied ‘equal’ access to power their freedoms and liberties will be tramped on by the bigger group.


Herein lies Kenya’s political and social problems.


First, the members of the society competing for power have numerical differences, so that there is this all pervasive notion that the political process is not fair; especially when it comes to the highest political office in the land, namely, the presidency. With the kikuyu at 22% of the Kenyan population and Turkana at about 1%, it’s understandable. This will always be used by politicians as an excuse to sow hatred amongst the various ‘marginalized’ groups, as it happened in 2007/2008.


Secondly, Most Kenyans equate power with the presidency.  Full stop.

Even well educated people in the society such as political analysts will be quoted in the media exhorting the president to do this or the other to save the country, never mind the fact that Kenya also has an executive prime minister as well as other leaders who could, and should do something about it.


Thirdly, the curse (some might call it a blessing) of Kenya’s ethnic differences (cultural diversity) and its attendant numerical differences. However, one should be cognizant of the fact that homogeneity might not necessarily be a solution to Kenya’s political problems: A case in point being Somali, with citizens of same tribe and religion and endless political conflicts.


An ignorant citizenry which “eat, drink, talk and sleep politics”


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