THE SOOTY SIDE OF CAMPUS POLITICS……DENNIS OMONDI NYABADE

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2014)

 

When Jesus refused to be a political leader of the Jews, I wondered why. But when Pastor Pius Muiru vied for the Kenyan presidency in 2007 and lost, I got my answer!

Politics has been branded in several quarters as a dirty game. As a result, humanity has tried to make a distinction between leadership and politics. Whereas “leaders” are seen as being responsible and caring, “politicians” have always shouldered the negative attributes. What many fail to grasp is that there is no clear-cut difference between politics and leadership.

It is evolution that binds the two. Politics is to leadership what Homo sapiens sapiens is to Egyptopithecus. But unlike Darwin′s apes that became less hairy and more upright with time, leadership gathered soot and more soot that ultimately broke its back. Then politics emerged, darker and dirtier than its predecessor with a limping gait that betrayed its manifesto.

The tentacles of politics have gripped the globe with its latest “catch” being institutions of higher learning. Even the University of Nairobi has not been spared. As a freshman in campus, I followed student campaigns with insatiable fascination. I came to realize that campus politics was just a microcosm of national politics with the key distinction that it was dirtier than the latter.

It is often said that engaging in campus politics builds one′s leadership skills. In all sincerity, has campus politics lived up to this mandate? If arrogance, violence and negative aggressiveness are by any chance good leadership skills, then campus politics has excelled aboveboard.

It has also been touted that campus politics is necessary for students′ representation in university administration. What remains unknown is that some students contend for political posts so as to abridge disparities between HELB loan allocation and the reality of campus spending. Where such contenders have been elected, theirs has been a case of gluttony and representation of their own stomachs.

During the campaigns that preceded the SONU elections, the writing was clearly on the wall: Politics is dirty. First was the anti-Mututho policy. The contenders organized parties and meetings where alcohol was the de facto food, serving as the appetizer, main course and dessert. It was said that the votes one can attain was directly proportional to the litres of alcohol one gave out. This created a tyranny of “litres” and in the end those who caused many to stagger won by a landslide.

Next came the anti-democracy policy. Students were bribed to influence their political allegiance. This came in the form of food and money. Being towards the of the semester, it helped quench the monetary thirst in most students′ wallets. It however failed to quench the thirst for good leaders.

The final policy was the “anti-admin” policy. Abusive language took centre-stage as rationale flew out through the window. The office of the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice Chancellor Student Affairs came under verbal attack as some contenders claimed that their opponents were admin puppets. Consequently, any political contender who was perceived as pro-admin was the subject of ridicule and political molestation.

Jesus insisted on respect to leaders: Insulting university administration does not make a good leader. Jesus spoke against corruption: Bribing students is no exception. Paul warned against drunkenness: Using it as a bait to solicit for votes does not make it right. However, just as a mushroom sprouts out and maintains its cleanliness despite the dirty surrounding, Christians can still be successful in politics without being dirty. Even then, one has to be cautious of the Swahili saying: “Mchezea tope humrukia.”

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