Communication at This Time of Great Trial

Communication is a process that involves the exchange of ideas and opinions through a means that can be effectively used by parties involved to achieve a common understanding. It can also be defined as an exchange of meaning between two or more people. It is a process and as such has obstacles. For communication to be effective these obstacles must be identified and remedial measures undertaken.

The political impasse in Kenya is due to a failure to communicate. The protagonists are unable to articulate their grievances to the opposing camp constructively and in a manner acceptable to both parties. Subsequently no meaningful exchange of ideas or opinion is undertaken, thus the impasse. This is ironical since both sides are composed of politicians of wide experience in governance and are highly educated yet they cannot create an enabling environment through which dialogue happen. This leads me to draw conclusion that each side is either completely arrogant or has too much to lose by making concessions. Either way it is at the expense of the entire country regardless of political affiliation.

This apparent lack of resolve to solve the political crisis has lead to the artificial erection of barriers to the communicative process by the two protagonists. These barriers include preconditions to negotiations, flexing of political muscle, solidifying existent mindsets in the local and international realm, violence and intimidation, blame games and attempts to divide the unity of opposing camps. These barriers can be viewed as pre-conceptions, defensive attitudes (and measures) and a holier than thou approach before and at the negotiating table.

The cessation of violence is the single most important factor to facilitate communication. Violence completely leads to a breakdown in the communication process. Constructive dialogue is impeded. The government, direct and indirect victims of violence and like-minded Kenyans find it impossible to negotiate while killings reminiscent of the Rwanda genocide are taking place. To them they must prevent, stop the killings, resettle the afflicted and dispense justice accordingly. These matters unlike the political impasse are an immediate threat to the right to food, shelter, clothing, education and most importantly life and property. The impasse is a threat to future economic and social policy. An exchange of meaning would thereafter be impossible under such circumstances.

In addition, violence redirects the attention of the government, business community, religious leaders, ordinary Kenyans and the international community. They try to find an immediate solution to the problem. This means making concessions and accommodating opinions that they may otherwise decline to do so. These include acceptance of the status quo, re-tallying of the presidential vote, re-run of presidential elections, international mediation, formation of a coalition government, suspension of the constitution and due legal process. These actions have direct political effects on the protagonists in addition to far reaching effects on the socio-economic landscape of the country future and present. It is because of these effects that the people might ordinarily accept or forego an action but chose otherwise, just to end the carnage.

A fundamental question as thus arises, one that may be directed towards me by those with alternate views. Which is a condition for the other? Is justice a condition for peace or peace a condition for justice?  The answer to this question can be found in the words of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat in an address to the UN security council. “I have an olive branch in one hand and an AK-47 in the other. Do not let me drop the olive branch.” Violence is never justifiable. Violent resistant is only acceptable when all peaceful means of seeking justice have been completely and undoubtedly been exhausted. What is happening in Kenya and especially in the Rift Valley is criminals in the pretext of political activism meting out VIOLENCE innocent women and children by criminals in pretext of political activism.

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