It seems fitting that a Kenyan should lead this Unit, not because we have perfected democratic elections, but because we strive for democracy and openly struggle with its practice. On October 26th, our country held repeat elections to correct irregularities of the first. We are not alone. In many countries from Latin America to Africa to Asia, fragile young democracies exuberantly launched face a cynical reality today. Let's be honest-- how far have we come? How much farther do we need to go?
I am a scholar of Security, Peace and Governance, a political activist, and equal opportunity advocate. I am the executive director of SOWED Kenya, a leading health, gender and social justice organization working in Kenya. I have been an outspoken critic of the violence surrounding Kenya's electoral process.
Understanding democracy gets back to the questions "What is fairness?" and "What is dignity?" These can't be understood as a textbook list of procedures and offices. Opportunity, voice, transparency and accountability are systems and attitudes. So are nepotism, intimidation, kick-backs and cooking-the-books. How to transition from one system to the other is the dilemma of our time.