Last year, a new word entered kenya’s political lexicon; Tugege. It is a word from the Kikuyu language that is plural of the name “Kagege”. A “kagege” is a person who is extremely confused to the point of gaping vacantly at the world around him. It comes from the word “gega” which means “stare in puzzlement”.

The word has been adopted by Kenyans into the political dictionary to mean a person who supports the government without question and who accepts everything they are told to believe even when the issue is an obvious lie. “Tugege” has therefor come to mean the mass of citizens who are possessed by government’s political charm.

So significant has been this new description of some Kenyans that there have been demands that the word be banned by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission as “hate speech”. The Commission has had to issue a public statement saying it had no such plans.

 To understand how the phenomenon of “Tugege” came about, one has to understand the hold the Kenyan government has had over Kenyans since independence. One must look at the psychology of its presidents and its effect on the minds of Kenyans.

Kenya’s presidents have managed to turn Kenya into one of the most docile societies. We can take anything. We are so compliant that whenever Kenyan presidents are cornered for their misdeeds, their modus operandi is to procrastinate and let time flow; because we shall invariably forget.

Human beings are not rebellious

Human being are actually not born as dissenters but as conformists. We conform because our training is based on control. Our parents control us. Teachers control us. For about a third of our life, we are under the direct control of our parents and our teachers.

We are, during this period of control, conditioned to do things in a particular way; how to wash our bodies, brush our teeth, make our beds, dress, calculate, read, etc.

A Noble Prize in Medicine winning psychologist in Russia by the name of Ivan Petrovich Pavlov discovered how this control and conditioning could be used to make people do things without thinking. He took a dog, now popularly known as Pavlov’s dog, and whenever he fed it he rang a bell.

Now, dogs salivate when they see food. Before long, Pavlov’s dogs began to associate the sound of the bell with food. After many repetitions, Pavlov began to ring the bell without feeding the dog. Every time the dog heard the bell, its mouth watered.

Pavlov came up with the theory that since man was an even more intelligent animal with better learning capacity, he could be conditioned. His intelligence and conditions could be reduced into a simple mechanical system of automatic response. You could condition man to think and feel what you wanted.

Enter psycho-politics

Joseph Stalin, the then communist leader of Russia, immediately saw the great political possibilities that lay in Pavlov’s theories. Under the Russian Academy of Sciences, he established a Scientific Council to study the theories of Pavlov. The mandate given to the council was to study the political applications of Pavlov’s theories.

The findings of the Russian Academy of Sciences became the foundations of what is now known as “thought control”. It is the process by which a person, an institution or a government, transforms a free human mind into an automatic – response machine committed to and serving a particular ideology.

The findings of the Soviets were taken a step farther in the 1920’s and 1930’s by the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse – Tung who was struggling to consolidate the communist revolution. After the successful declaration of the People’s Republic of China, he began implementing the soviet findings on Pavlov theories through what were called “thought reform” programmes. The goal was to make the Chinese people denounce their past political views and adopt new communist State approved political philosophies.

By the time the Second World War broke out, the political manipulation of people had become both an art and science. But while the Soviets and the Chinese were researchers and the developers of this art and science, it fell on one Adolf Hitler to test it as a fully developed political strategy in manipulating a country.

Hitler perfected it all

Nazism is remembered for its effective use of political manipulation. Using both soviet brainwashing tactics and Chinese indoctrination methods the two, Adolf Hitler managed to put up a political party, win a democratic election, develop one of the largest armies in history, conquer and plunder Europe, and with impunity exterminate over 6 million Jews. All these done by a once homeless, ex–convict school dropout who once desired to become a priest.

It is not the barrel of the gun that creates dictatorial regimes. It is “thought control”. It enables a power psychotic to manipulate a whole country to serve his ideals for his own selfish objectives.

Kenyan governments have craftily combined lessons from Russia, China and Germany to establish one of the most suave dictatorships in the world. Kenyan presidents are strong while appearing weak, cruel while appearing compassionate, selfish while appearing philanthropic, and shrewd while appearing dumb.

 The tools of manipulation: Brainwashing

The political foundations of brainwashing is that the country is one organism.  The citizens are just cells of that organism.  This is no different from man who though is one unit is made up of millions of cells.

But when some cells get sick, they have to be treated.  If they cannot be treated, they have to be destroyed.  To political manipulators, the State has to run on the same principle.

The theory of brainwashing says that in the State, some people operate as germs and viruses, attacking the population with disloyal ideals which spread to the rest of the body.  The political manipulator must eradicate the effectiveness of these “disgruntled elements”.

Use of force

 One way of eradicating the effectiveness of citizens who criticize the State is the use of force.  The most barbaric, unrestrained and brutal use of force, if carried far enough, invokes obedience.  Any government which has the spirit and courage to display inhumanity, savageness, brutality and an uncompromising lack of humanity, will be obeyed.

Mental Destruction

 For others, the State uses mental destruction. The “disgruntled element” is subjected to police harassment which induces mental collapse.  He is also slandered, humiliated and socially isolated.  The idea is to ensure that the person becomes severely mentally demeaned and ineffective.

Psychological destruction

 The “disgruntled element” is exposed to psychological pressures that will destabilize his mind and thinking.  This is done by attacking the things that are dearest to his mind.  Firstly, the State attacks the family. Then the State attacks the friends.  Friends are punished for associating with him or her.  Other friends are made to believe the “disgruntled element” has betrayed them.

The tools of manipulation: Keep the people poor

Political manipulators believe that when people are prosperous, they became uncontrollable.  Their minds are open and excitable.  In order to keep people under control, the people must be maintained in poverty.

The tools of manipulation: Keep the people under terror

The state must keep the people under tight control and under a state of terror.  It must always be ready to use terror to achieve compliance. The people must believe that the State can kill them at any time for any reason.

The tools of manipulation: Destroy the institutions of the country

The political manipulator must pervert and subjugate all the democratic institutions of the country. Every public agency that gives power to the people must be emasculated.

One of the institutions the political manipulators prioritise to pervert is the Judiciary. When the Judiciary is no longer independent, when the judicial process becomes a farce, the people become frightened and malleable.

The tools of manipulation: Destroy the Youth

The aspirations of a society are carried by its youth.  They usually have a mind of their own and are less afraid of the State.  For the political manipulator, their spirit must therefore  be destroyed.  The political manipulators promotes chaos in them.  They must be made idle and worthless.  The use of drugs and alcohol is allowed to flourish.

The tools of manipulation: Removal of ethical standards

Political manipulators deliberately recruit people who are depraved, financially and morally, and puts them in charge of the public, allowing them to openly indulge in depravity.  They are allowed to be lawless with impunity.  Once recruited, these people are used to execute destructive schemes against the people.

The tools of manipulation: Indoctrination

The second tool in political manipulation is indoctrination. This is where the political manipulators takes over the mind of the people and replaces their thinking with his. This is done in a few steps.

Attacking what the people believe in.

 The first step towards indoctrinating people is to attack what they believe in. Once the people are confused, they drop their mental defenses and the political manipulators can now invade their minds.

Isolating the people

 For indoctrination to be successful, people must be prevented from validating each other.  Using the police and intelligence agencies, the political manipulators make people mistrust each other. Lies are spread about political enemies.  People are arrested for their opinions or criticisms.  The society is filled with rumuor-mongerers and informers.  People stop talking. Without validation, their thoughts never become convictions.

Bombarding the people with love

 The confused and isolated mind has now to be made to concentrate on the political manipulator.  The political manipulator does this through “love bombardment”.  He continuously tells the people how he loves them.  He shows them he is like them, a part of the masses.  He pays attention to them and they fall in love with him.

Using propaganda to sell ideals

 The people are now ready to be indoctrinated.  The political manipulator now tells them what he believes in. He makes the people think like him.  Confused, isolated and in love with the political manipulator, the people will believe and do anything he says. He now molds them to serve him only and can manipulate them towards his selfish objectives.

 Eliciting collaboration by rewards and punishment

 The political manipulator makes it clear that co-operation will result in reward and opposition in punishment. The animal instinct in man will make him co-operate for his own survival. Punishment not only intimidates people but also deters those who may entertain the idea of opposing.

Using irrationality

 To maintain the people in this state of confusion, isolation and conditioning, the political manipulators use irrationality.

Adolf Hitler perfected the art of irrationality. No one could predict him.  He deliberately kept people guessing.  They were always in a state of confusion and upheaval.  If the people predicted him, he would do the exact opposite.  This art of irrationality confuses our logic.  Once our logic is confused, we are unable to think straight. This keeps the political manipulator in control of our minds.

The tools of manipulation: Propaganda

The third tool of thought control is propaganda. A French philosopher, La Rochefoucauld, said:

“A man is like a rabbit, you catch him by his ears”

Adolf Hitler understood propaganda.  He perfected the art of manipulating people through it.  From the day he set up the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler relied strongly on propaganda. He knew that fear and terror can ensure compliance but in the long run, propaganda was the best tactic of control.

But Hitler’s propaganda was not just about misinformation. Hitler used well organized rallies as propaganda tools.  Colorful ceremonies and massive collections of people were used to fascinate the people and get the leaders to make personal contact with them.  It also gave the people a sense of belonging to the State. Hitler held public gatherings for every possible reason.

Even official government work was used as a propaganda tool.  Government policies and projects were formulated, launched and implemented to further the name of the Nazi movement and promote the admiration of the people for Hitler.

Hitler also came up with the concept of “the galloping lie”.  This is a lie that was big and alive. It lived in the minds of the people and grew stronger every day.  It kept moving. It kept evolving. No one could pin it down. When it met difficulties, it mutated and continued.

 The effect of political manipulation on the citizen

The subjection of a people to political manipulation results in very negative consequences. Very few people have the strength of mind to resist. This is how Tugeges are born. But there are “Super Tugeges” and “Common Tugeges”. The following are the “Super Tugeges”.

The Get – alongers

The Get-alongers are those who try to balance between their own interests and those of the demands of the political manipulator. They do not agree with him yet they have too much to lose by resisting him. They therefore try to walk a thin line between keeping away and co-operating. Many State and public officers  and accomplished businessmen are get-alongers.

The Co – operators

They are those who help the political manipulator achieve his goals. The society looks at them as traitors. They agree to be members of the system so that they can exploit the situation for their selfish interests. They are individualistic and have no concern for the rest of the people.

Bored Intellectual

 They join the political manipulator out of intellectual curiosity. Their support of the political manipulator is an intellectual exercise and they get a chance to put their academic theories in practice.


 They have a low status in life and sometimes no financial success and cannot resist the chance to exalt themselves. The political manipulator provides them with an opportunity to impose themselves over a society that did not recognise them or respect them.


 They are also political manipulators in their hearts and minds. They believe in the same ideologies with the political manipulator. They also become small political manipulators within the regime.

And the common Tugeges ?

 After being manipulated, terrorized both psychologically and physically, and impoverished, the common Kenyan has gotten into a state of confusion that is akin to insanity. The common Kenyans have anger they cannot vent, ambitions they cannot fulfill, sentiments they cannot express. All these boil in their minds until they withdraw into themselves. They suffer from what Joost Meerloo in “The Rape of the Mind” calls “The Barbed Wire Disease”.

 “The symptoms of this disease is that the public surrender into a zombie like existence. It begins when the people have everything they believe in attacked and invalidated. Then they are isolated and made to feel lonely and detached from each other … Finally the people are bombarded with lies, rumors and ideologies.

 “… people retreat into the safety of themselves. They become aloof and apathetic … The choice is either to adjust and do what is required or withdraw as far as possible from it all.”

The common Kenyans have run away from the reality because the reality is too painful to face. They have detached their mind and gone into a mental seclusion. They have become dumb and unresponsive, almost insensitive. Nothing shocks them because they will not let their minds deal with it. The mind denies the reality and creates its own fantastic world where everything is okay.

People in this kind of state are very dangerous. Any major shock can trigger a break which can be extremely violent. A desire to react that is greatly suppressed and is realized all at once can be catastrophic.

Towards healing

The Kenyan society must begin to come to terms with its past. We must accept that we have falled prey to the machinations of shrewd political manipulation.  We must accept that willingly and unwillingly, we have played a part in our own degradation.  Sometimes we didn’t know what was happening.  At times we knew but were afraid.  We must agree to face the guilt and the shame of our cowardice.