Why Many Kenyans Are Still Politically Naïve and Uninformed

By George Gĩthĩnji Last updated on
Why Many Kenyans Are Still Politically Naïve and Uninformed

What does it mean to be literate? The common understanding is the ability to read and write. Yet, many literate Kenyans suffer from ignorance, brainwash, and herd mentality. They do not have the ability to think in certain instances that require them to do so.

In 2012, a group of rowdy youth in Kisumu beat up a man who boarded a Matatu with a book in hand. They seriously injured him, robbed him, and forced him to dump the book in a garbage site. Surprisingly, none among the rowdy youth had read the book.

They said they beat up the man because the book he carried “put Raila Odinga in bad light”.  That book was Peeling Back the Mask by Miguna Miguna. The man, a high school teacher, said he bought the book for his literature class.


Unfortunately, this is not a strange case coming from supporters of Raila Odinga. Some of his supporters are unruly and uncouth. The situation above presents a perfect picture. Where was the logic in beating up the man for carrying the book? Again, did he not have the right to read the book?

Poor reasoning leads to poor judgement

The unruly youth failed to think sensibly, which resulted in poor reasoning. They never questioned themselves if beating up the man was a sensible thing to do (of course it is not). Their claim that the book tarnished Raila’s name or put him in bad light is silly. None of them had read the book, which is a grave mistake. Failure to read the book meant that they could not prove if it really put Raila “in bad light.”

The gang of youth also obviously proved their hatred for the author of the book. Miguna Miguna was Raila’s personal advisor in the period before and after the 2007 general elections. They later had a bitter fallout that led Miguna to write the book Peeling Back the Mask. Many of Raila’s supporters felt that Miguna adversely mentioned him in that book.

They manner in which the gang of youth acted on this hatred by lashing out at an innocent man was disgraceful and cold-blooded. They believed fictitious sentiments about the book and its author without seeking the facts.


This behavior shows an elevated form of sycophancy. The gang of youth beat up the man thinking that they would please Raila Odinga. The matter did not concern them individually, but they became foot soldiers for a cause that they knew nothing about.

Ignorance leads to exploitation

The rowdy youth are like a pack of dogs running after an antelope. When the dogs kill the antelope, they guard it until the hunter arrives. The hunter selects the best meat and leaves the entrails and bones to the dogs.

The hunter wastes no energy in the hunting, but benefits at the expense of the dogs. However, if the dogs were enlightened, they could eat the best meat first before the hunter arrived. This way, the hunter’s appetite will not disadvantage them. By eating the best meat, they will be telling the hunter that they are not anyone’s dummy. They also deserve better and juicy meat other than entrails and bones.

Kenyans are politically naive

This incident proves that Kenyans are yet to mature politically. Many are still politically naïve. In 2013, majority of the registered voters cast their votes along tribal lines. They did not care about the person they voted for, or the issues that person presented in their manifesto.  As long as he or she came from their ethnic group and got endorsement from their political demigods, they became cool with it. The same will play out in the 2017 campaigns and general elections.

Many Kenyans are hypocritical. They pretend that sycophancy and tribal politics is a ‘new’ thing. They will lament how negative ethnicity is destroying the nation, but blame other tribes for their woes. The same people cannot take responsibility for their role in promoting the vice.

In fact, politicians in Kenya endorse tribalism, but none accepts to peddling it. As Kenyans fight along tribal lines to ‘defend our politician’ (sycophancy), these politicians are busy eating and drinking together and planning strategies to keep the masses uninformed.

Negative ethnicity and tribalism are an assortment of problems in Kenyan politics. As Kenyans sing praises to their ethnic demigods,they should not forget that they live in a vulture republic. They cannot ask their politicians to end tribalism and sycophancy. That will be letting hyenas to write a proposal on how to protect goats.

Therefore, Kenyans need to stop being gullible and ignorant as to believe everything politicians say without using common sense and logic. The ignorance of the majority is what is keeping the country from progressing. It is also the reason why Kenyans send home nearly 80% of their elected representatives every five years.

George Gĩthĩnji is a political and social commentator. Twitter @EpikKenyan
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  1. A lot has to do with the way they have been brought up & conditioned regarding politics. Many still think in terms of KANU & Baba Moi being their mother & father. Its such a pity as the nation has gone backwards in many areas since 1963. Nations that gained independence the same year are decades ahead of Kenya. Its citizens still don’t realize their potential, their rights or who really is Kenyan. We need to start all over, from scratch. New leaders, new institutions, new policies etc The current status quo are destroying what little is left. If things go wrong they will walk away with lots of stolen money, leaving the nation poorer.

      • Tribalism, impunity, open economic crimes & looting, citizens not knowing their rights, govt thinking they are elected to serve their own interests & more. If we don’t highlight these issues then we should not expect anything to change or be for the better. We disappoint the future generations by we being complicit & silent at what we see happening. Something has to be done & fast.

    • A majority do follow up on politics but they are uninformed to separate facts and truth from lies and propaganda


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