Kenyans suffering from political Amnesia

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By Kenya Confidential Medical Desk, Nairobi – April 9, 2022

As August 8th 2022, the date for Kenya’s political destiny to elect a new government rapidly approaches, millions of Kenyans led by their leaders appear to be suffering from political Amnesia.

Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, past information and past experiences. Though forgetting your identity is a common plot device in movies and television, that’s not generally the case in real-life amnesia.

Instead, people with amnesia — also called amnestic syndrome — usually know who they are. But, they may have trouble learning new information and forming new memories. That means their brain blocks new facts and memories of past events.

Currently there many Kenyans who cannot remember the sad events of 2007-2008 Post Election Violence that involved burning human beings in a church (of all places) because they allegedly did not vote as expected. That is history that can repeat itself this year.

Amnesia can be caused by damage to areas of the brain that are vital for memory processing. Unlike a temporary episode of memory loss (transient global amnesia), amnesia can be permanent. Political amnesia leads to self-denial of past experiences exposing one to the risk of repeating painful socio-political mistakes.

There’s no specific treatment for amnesia, but techniques for enhancing memory and psychological support can help people with amnesia and their families cope.

Political Amnesia symptoms

The two main features of amnesia are:

  • Difficulty learning, understanding or accepting new information following the onset of amnesia (anterograde amnesia). Many youthful Kenyans do not understand or cannot accept information on events that took place two decades ago when they were young.
  • Difficulty remembering past events and previously familiar information (retrograde amnesia) as is the case with some Kenyans when it comes to the brutal Dictator Daniel arap Moi repressive government or the more recent 2007-2009 Post Election Violence in which over 1,500 innocent Kenyans were killed, 3.2 million Kenyans turned into IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and brutality visited upon Kenyans in the Rift Valley.

Most people with amnesia have problems with short-term memory — they can’t retain new information. Recent memories are most likely to be lost, while more remote or deeply ingrained memories may be spared. Someone may recall experiences from childhood or know the names of past presidents, but not be able to name the current president, not able to tell what Mau Mau was all about or remember when Kenya became a republic.

Isolated political amnesia memory loss doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence, general knowledge, awareness, attention span, personality or identity. People with amnesia usually can understand written and spoken words and can learn skills such as wheelbarrow pushing or church piano playing – or compiling songs of praise for politicians.

They may understand they have a memory disorder but call it memory lapse.

Amnesia isn’t the same as dementia. Dementia often includes age-related memory loss, but it also involves other significant cognitive problems that lead to a decline in daily functioning – that may need a helper.

A pattern of forgetfulness is also a common symptom of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but the memory and other cognitive problems in MCI aren’t as severe as those experienced in dementia. Many political MCI victims never remember what they have said or done in the past – very common with Kenya top politicians, some who have declared interest in the presidency.

Additional signs and symptoms

Depending on the cause of the political amnesia, other signs and symptoms may include:

  • False memories (confabulation), either completely invented or made up of genuine memories misplaced in time – very common in political rallies declarations particularly during current election campaigns.
  • Confusion or disorientation – that leads to repetitive naked lies without any iota of shame with claims of projects and political feats they never were part of.
  • False promises made during populist public rallies.

When to see a doctor

Any politician who experiences unexplained memory loss, head injury, confusion or disorientation requires immediate medical attention. However, many politicians prefer seeing witchdoctors and wizards to be exorcised.

Some politicians run to their tribal elders councils to be declared elders or chieftains in order to cover up their shortcomings.

A person, especially politicians, with amnesia may not be able to identify his or her location or have the presence of mind to seek medical care. If someone you know has symptoms of amnesia, help the person get medical attention.