The Seasonal Illusion of “Siasa” and the Struggles of Everyday Life

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Presently we are in the middle of two seasons – the cold season and the election season. If our climate patterns are anything to go by, a warmer season will come after the colder season. It’s more difficult to predict what will come after this election season though – a prolonged election season courtesy of a court ruling, a new administration, who knows? But maybe there’s a downside to looking at our politics – which is usually conflated with elections in our society – from a seasonal perspective. While trying to avoid a repeat of the election-related violence of 2007-2008, various election stakeholders are saying to the citizens “Siasa itaisha na maisha iendelee” (Politics will come to an end and life will go on) effectively depoliticizing the harsh realities of everyday life for the masses. Politics does not end at the ballot.

Admittedly, however, the word “siasa” does not embody the encompassing meaning of the word “politics.” It’s a more cynical, insular, and even ephemeral substitute for the word, particularly in this context. But as Rawbar from the group Kalamshaka suggested in his verse on Ni Wakati maybe this is not supposed to be our context, “…Na philosophy yao kwa hii society, man eat man, man can’t plan white man society…” This is probably a discussion for another day.

However, it is what is given is that the people will still experience oppression after (and during) the election. Consequently, there is a need to pay attention to politics – publicly and personally – beyond electoral cycles. Regardless, elections are a reality of the present and our writers have provided a range of opinions that speaks to some of the realities of the season. Maureen Kasuku looks at the politics of tokenism and gender in the selection of one of the political coalitions’ running mates. Gathanga Ndung’u highlights the common denominators in Kenyan elections. Lena Anyuolo decries the futility of using our present political system with its players as a means for liberation. As far as life after the elections is concerned, Gitura Mwaura’s tone is more optimistic – the election might not be perfect but it will be calmer compared to 2007-2008, the period he calls a “watershed moment.” Our tenth edition might be a special edition in the sense that it speaks to the present election season but we remain steadfast in our mission to connect the struggles of the marginalized which are realities of everyday life going beyond electoral seasons. Enjoy!

Mwongela Kamencu

Assistant Editor

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