It’s been so long since I had a say on the power structures of my community (East Africa). Many have risen up to say power is military supremacy; others have worshiped money and wealth. I guess they are correct in their own right based on what they have settled to believe as portrayed by those holding power. Today, it’s families of influence and great wealth leading nations, individuals with a great command over the military asserting their great played role in the security of communities, sometimes based on true heroic acts of liberation in creating stability as an anchor to hold power. Others succeed power from power holders just because they would provide a cover and sense of continuity after they hand it over (power) so as to maintain interests of their similar circle-mates. But we are reminded, times have changed and are changing, just like power as right by birth in the monarchy system back then changed to just prestige, so has security. It is no longer a privilege but a human right, not a tool for power but rather enforcement of the people’s will as expressed in words like many other rights. We cannot afford to stay ignorant of the power structures nor measure our abilities to hold power based on these ancient beliefs of wealth or military might but rather understand the strength in our words. Our power is that glowing center in all of us as humans. It’s what makes us speak up about an injustice when that injustice does not personally affect us. It is what makes us aware that we are better off if our fellow human beings are better off.
My favorite African witter once said, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person but the ability to make it the definitive story of that person.” Why then do we the thing we do if not for our fellow human beings? Why do we represent people’s voices if we won’t put their story first but rather selfish personal agendas or controlling wealth or people? Anybody entrusted with power, in our case as East Africans through elections… is also entrusted with the ability to tell our story. That way they learn what we need and farther we are informed of what we are entitled to as the people. Hence a people-centered kind of service is produced as a result. However, this is not the case today. A famous poet from Russia once said, “If you want to dispossess the people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with secondly.” Our leaders today have decided to speak their own version of our story and put us second. They say they need resources to get us out of poverty, educate us, house us, build good roads for us, create decent jobs for us, they even collect money from us through taxes but when it comes to their turn to say a word to act towards our situation they start with themselves and secondly reach the people. They have yielded to corruption, greed, and selfishness. We have been depriving of our truth, mental safety against the fear of war or conflict, decent jobs, accountability, transparency as to what EXACTLY our power is used for by our leaders. We cannot let such people tell our stories because they have biased the media too, we cannot depend on small people to tell the mighty story of a great people of our nations. And if we cannot let them tell our stories, then we cannot give them the power not even through an election. They will steal their way to having the power but we won’t give it to them because we can choose to tell our own story. Every voice against their mischief is every single bit of power collected back.
Therefore, we ought to know that we all live in an information era and that means we all have a chance to use the power we have. As citizens, our voices can be heard beyond not just through institutions such as security organs, media house, the legislature, judiciary, religious houses, cultural institutions, media houses, etc. But through citizen collective efforts; With our Facebook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube, Instagram, Whatsapp Sound Cloud radio, television station, SMS, telephone and more; Lets raise words not just voices, information not just data, truth not just speculations, facts not just rumors, have legislation, not just conversations, decrees not just warnings with the people, for the people, and by the people. Let us make sure the right people tell our stories, and if they don’t we rise to our own rescue.