Yesterday broke the news of the first papal resignation since the Middle Ages and also that the North Koreans had fired off a nuclear weapon. And yet such global events were overshadowed in our part of the world by the airing of Kenya's historic first presidential debate, that was simultaneously aired live on almost all the nation's TV channels and on the internet.
There had been many naysayers before this – many believed this would be an elitist exercise that would have little effect on already pre-determined voting patterns. Whether they’re right remains to be seen. However, I believe the 3 1/2 hour exercise was a huge win in our young (50 years old) nation’s slow but steady march to a stable democracy. In my opinion, some of the main wins were…
1. Kenyan politicians were publicly and on live TV put on the spot for their policies, something completely inconceivable a few years back!
2. Kenyans had an opportunity to practice agreeing to disagree amicably – the hashtags #KEDebate13 and #Debate254 trended worldwide during the debate and I was rather impressed by the gracious online sentiments expressed by fellow citizens.
3. Kenyans watched their politicians debate maturely, disagree amicably and still remain on smiling terms afterwards – and hopefully learnt to ask themselves ‘if they’re not enemies, why should we be?’, a point well driven home by several beautifully conceived and shot commercials that aired during our nation’s equivalent of the superbowl!
4. We had a chance to witness the power of the media to positively shape a nation’s outcomes – clearly, media is not just a passive reporting tool but has a huge role to play in whether we become paranoid and fearful or patriotic and confident as a nation!)
5. And lastly, Kenyan’s got some much needed dietary advice (‘if you want to be healthy, eat only when you are hungry’) and other pearls of wisdom from school-teacher ‘Mwalimu’ Dida, who taught us not to take everything, including ourselves, so seriously!
All in all, I believe the real debate winners were the 40 million Kenyans and the many others who call this great country home!
What did you think were the main wins in yesterday’s debate? (in case you missed it, you can catch it online here)