The country has seen key developments since 2002 that have been built around what can aptly be described as a highly collectivist context.
Kenyan society seems to appreciate and place a higher value and worth in the idea of group membership in the robust and demanding competition for political gain.
We continue to see different ethnic or political groups at the county and national levels coming together in alignments clearly meant for the members’ eventual ‘political safety’ and empowerment.
The discourse of the ‘six-piece suit’ (an appeal to voters to cast their ballots for president, governor, senator, MP, Woman Representative and MCA on one-party ticket), which is championed mostly by the leaders of the major political parties in the August 8 elections, suggests that the goal is to work towards what is best for the group and not the individual.
These leaders would, of course, like to see their parties win as many seats as possible in the elections.
This, it seems, could, if heeded by the voters, seal the fate of the independent candidates in the various electoral races.
The quest by the independents to stand on their own and advance their individual goals is rather problematic for those who advocate the values of the collectivist contexts.
Even though the people may see great potential in their individual initiatives, they are conditioned to pledge loyalty to the building of a cohesive unit.
Therefore, there will be some areas where the people will outrightly not vote for independent candidates simply because they do not subscribe to the rule of group membership.
As determined or qualified as they might be, and thus glorious in all those good qualities, the context of the ‘six-piece suit’ will not accommodate the independent candidates.
It is because it has no bearing on what may seem as the promotion of personal gain at the expense of group goals.
In this context, the independent candidates are likely to fail miserably, and it is nothing personal against them, it’s just that they did not conform to the prevailing system!
Yet, ironically, in the other areas, this collectivist context could end up playing such a beautiful role in promoting independent candidates and propelling them to success.
It will, in essence, be the very elevator that will smoothly take them to the top!
In contexts like this one, the group members will, interestingly, be seen to have been tired and exhausted by the individualistic nature of the leaders they elected previously.
The expectation when they were elected was that these leaders would champion the collective goal of the group, yet during their tenures, they were seen to promote individualistic goals, whether their own or those of other individuals or groups, and this clear lack of conformity to the collectivist context will, in the end, be the cause of their downfall.
Where the incumbents were viewed to have been striving for their own success at the expense of that of the group as a whole, the independent candidates are more likely to carry the day.
And it is because they will be seen in the eyes of the voters as the ‘saviours’, who have the group’s goal in mind, but who might have been unfairly denied the party’s ticket and opted to run as independents.
Therefore, collectively, the group members will work towards electing these independent candidates so that they can continue to champion the ingrained need for collectivism, but outside the party whose ticket they were denied.
Ms Omukoba is a communication expert and a lecturer at Kenyatta University. [email protected]