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Friday, July 30, 2010

The 'Galileo syndrome'


"[Every week], I sit at my desk and bang out the first draft of [stories, or as I call them analyses] that I will then agonize over and rework and rewrite and read aloud for days before hitting send. And then (because the confessional memoir is all the rage) I will go into the “Sent” portion of my e-mail account and re-open the document that I have sent out into the world and I will worry about it until it’s published.

And then I will wait. Not for accolades or notes of congratulations. I wait for someone to tell me I am wrong.

Part of this is because of the way I was raised. I was surrounded by a strong extended family that was there to be measuredly proud for our successes but also to remind us who we were and where we came from. Often. And loudly."

That's not me. It is Tom Avila writing in one of my favourite websites. I recommend that site to all Kenyan journalists, including editors who've ever written a story.

For real! I agree with him one hundred per cent. It's like he is just somewhere inside my thoughts, telling me how similar our backgrounds are. How our struggles are. And that at least, I still have a conscience. And that I am still Kenyan

You know, since the Constitution-making debate began, I have been reading voraciously just to find out what it is that I missed. I have attended all Parliament proceedings discussing the document, I have read and re-read the document, listened to everyone, looked at the unbelievable opinion polls and even spoken to my dad and mum about my stand.

Being a religious fellow, I have spoken to two Catholic bishops, dozens of lawyers, doctors and all that. But, I have not changed my position. I am just at a cross-roads wondering, like my colleague Mutahi Ngunyi (we're both obsessed with the worst-case scenarios) would ask, "what if I am wrong? Why am I voting 'No’ if almost everyone I know is on the opposite side? Is there something I am missing here?"

But then, I am just angry with the Committee of Experts and the changes that were introduced after the MPs --the people's representatives-- had edited the proposed law. I have tried to tell myself, "get over it, the country has to move on and this is the only chance", but I have been unsuccessful.

There's the naive part of me that is used to being cynical, very cynical, and it can't just let go. I keep on asking, where on earth did the media, the government and the civil society push a single agenda in the belief that they were right and everyone else was wrong?

I'll ask again, back in the day, I was told, the Church was against that great scientist Galileo Galilei he agreed with his Greek counterpart Corpenicus that the earth, like all other planets, revolved around the sun. The church branded him a heretic, ostracised him and he finally died. But later, he turned out to be right and Sir Isaac Newton (he of gravity fame and the laws of motion) and Albert Einstein (E=MC squared) agreed with him.

so, in that context, am I just that one confused soul that thinks it is right?

But all said and done, I have one vote which I hope to use. If I am wrong, too bad! But if I am right, I'd have done my duty pretty well.

That's just about it for now.


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