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Nyamira County & Choice Ahead of Us

Our Collective Role in County & National Development[1]

click here to download a.pdf version of this document

We have an opportunity of a life time!

Accept our greetings from Canada where, unlike Kenya at the moment, we are in freezing winter temperatures. Like Mogusii said: ‘ngongo n’ibere.

I am glad that you have convened in the name of our recently formed county, one among 47 mandated in the recently promulgated constitution. I join you in this journey of development and hope that as we lay foundations for the future of our county, these foundations will be based on collective common good for us all in Nyamira, Gusii and our country Kenya.

Your commendable efforts are similar to those of our youth, working towards a Nyamira County Youth Forum, which will be a voice for the young people in the development of Nyamira, Gusii and our country Kenya.

I congratulate you for this effort. I know that many challenges lie ahead of us but with focus and determination, we will succeed as we move ahead.

As a county (and indeed as a country Kenya), we stand at a crossroads with respect to development; we can choose the path of progress and a better future for us all; we can also choose the other obvious path of stagnation and retrogression. The choice is ours as a people of Nyamira and Kenya.

I will explain.

At independence, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta asked Kenyans and the government, as a matter of priority, to tackle poverty, ignorance and disease. More than 47 years later, we are faced with the same problems as we faced at the time, this is despite the great strides made, efforts invested and amounts of money poured into tackling these issues. We have rampant poverty, disease that could be manageable continues to debilitate families and communities; and we wallow in a lot of ignorance about how to do things, despite the number of people we have educated and the amount of money that has been poured into the education system.

Why?

I posit that it is because since independence, we have done things one way or the other, the results of which we live today. Those results include poverty, ignorance, disease, unemployment, corruption, tribalism, clanism, crime and many, many other ills.

Of these ills, my view is that ignorance has a disproportional weight. It ignorance that tells us to discriminate against each other on the basis of clan and ethnicity, the latter breeding tribalism; it is ignorance that teaches us to focus on unproductive competition for resources (even killing each other as happened in the post-election violence of 2008) when the world out there is larger than can meet everyone’s needs. It is ignorance that tells us to vote the same way we have voted since independence and hoped that results will be different; it is ignorance that keeps us divided rather than realizing we would be much stronger when united; it is ignorance that …, fill in the blanks.

Someone has defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, the same way, and hoping for different results. And I know we are all sane and hence must not be seen to repeat the mistakes of yesteryear over and over again, hoping that things will turn out differently; we must take responsibility for our destiny in our hands and work to make the future different.

We have experimented with ways that have resulted in the current mess of poverty, ignorance, unemployment, corruption, tribalism, clanism, crime and many, many more ills.

It is time said enough is enough; we deserve better! And as Mogusii says gakiaborire ‘nchera rogogo kerigerie ‘nchera maate. The choice ahead is clear: we continue on the same path we have followed since independence and we get the same results (perhaps worse!); or we do things differently in order to realize different and better results in the future.

Those better results we seek include good education for our children in Nyamira and across the country; better access to hospitals, medicines and medical care for our people; good infrastructure that allows us ease of movement our produce and other goods to markets; security that leaves us at peace so that we can conduct nation-building in a peaceable, secure manner; jobs for schools leavers and college graduates (and yes meaningful jobs that offer good returns that can support families); better prices for our produce like tea, maize, coffee, …; better outputs of our produce like tea, maize, coffee, …; name it! We all want things to work better for all of us.

As elders in Nyamira County, let’s understand how best these problems can be tackled so that we can achieve better standards of living for our people. To do so, we need to understand the root causes of our current challenges.

For example, what causes an entire county to take fewer students (barely 100!) to university than one school does as happens in some instances? Why do our children schooled in Gusii fail at a higher rate than in other parts of the country?

Experts tell us that some of the root causes lie in clanism, for example where we protect teachers because they are our own – ‘kebe ‘nkia monyene, we say; forgetting that those that fail are also ours. Religion is yet another: we protect and defend those from the same religious organization as us to work in schools sponsored by that organization. Thus good teachers may be rejected just because they don’t profess in the religious organization sponsoring the school. We are also are building too many schools with too few students, making meaningful competition nought! We forget that eng’areka nero yagerete bokayia; in the process we end up with wasteful use of the meagre resources at our disposal.

Parents also need to be more dedicated to supporting teachers in the education of their children; indeed, as a community we need collective commitment to educating every child we are blessed with.

As with education, I would like to challenge us all today to reflect on each of the problems we face and their root causes. Then, in our plan for the future, we can tackle these causes systematically and ensure that we don’t remain in the same spot we have been all these years.

We need to understand why poverty persists even when we have some of the best land and many, many people to work the land; we need to understand why ignorance persists despite the may educated people we have and the many channels of information there are; we must understand the causes of unemployment even as the economy keeps expanding and could expand even more; we must ask why clanism and tribalism are our mantra in Kenya, even when it hurts us all as a people and nation (for example: a clansman in parliament does not guarantee our development nor does a tribesman in State House); we must ask why today in Gusii crime is rampant and getting worse than it has ever been, and more so, why this degree of violent crime; … and so on.

Today, we in Nyamira County, like the rest of the nation, are lucky that we live in times of global flow of information. The government no longer has the monopoly of information and cannot control its flow; thus we can seek the knowledge we deem necessary, including how other countries have managed to stay ahead economically and allowed for their people to prosper, resulting in high standards of living. Today, we can learn without impediment about other democracies across the world and how it works for the people of successful nations.

We are also lucky in another way: we have a pool of educated people, many of them seasoned professionals, many that have traversed the world and have a wealth of experience that we could tap into. We are lucky that many of them still treasure our origins and are willing to share these experiences and knowledge in the development of our county and nation.

We are also fortunate in yet another way: we are blessed with a large healthy population that forms a large pool of labour for anything that we may wish to do, even as Mogusii says that abange ‘mbaya ‘mbariete ‘kiane ‘nkaigwa bororo. Many hands are good, although it also means that there are more mouths to feed. It is better when they are working for they can feed off what they produce as opposed to the current situation where they need to be fed when there is NOT enough for them to do! Now imagine that everyone in this county and across the nation gets fully engaged in working! In other words every man and woman, able-bodied and disabled, were able to be properly employed and giving their best? Just imagine!

There is more: in Gusii we have some of the most arable land that, used properly, can feed more than several provinces in the country; we just need to be a little smart about how we use the land to increase its productivity.  That is yet another blessing we can count.

We also live in better times! What with the recent promulgation of a new constitution, of extended liberties and decentralized decision-making!

These are opportunities galore! We must not waste them!

Our challenge as elders is to lead the way; we must demonstrate our understanding of where we have come from, where we are and where we would like to go. We must learn lessons of the past and ensure that these are applied to the way we conduct ourselves for the sake of posterity. We must be good examples for the youth and those around us so that we can positively influence their thinking and decisions. (In this respect, we must shun, in word and deed, ills like corruption, nepotism, clanism, … etc.)

As we think of the future, remember, no challenge that we face is impossible for what man has done, man can do. The development we seek has been achieved by others in other parts of the world; we can learn from them. These lessons include how to run a good education system; how to run an effective healthcare system; how to run matters democratically; how to suppress discrimination, be it based on clan, gender, ethic, etc.; how to create employment so that our youth are gainfully employed and not living lives of crime and extortion; how to mobilize resources for business and economic development and removing the dependence on donors and central government; how to ensure transparency in public affairs, devoid of corruption and embezzlement; …

We have an opportunity of a life time – let’s make use of it for the better of those coming after us. And when we finally come to the end of our journey, we can look back with pride and say: we left a legacy and a better county and country for future generations.

The journey ahead is long and we must continually compare notes to make sure we are on the right path. The meeting today is in line with that process. And it is through such interaction that we can banish ignorance; it is the ultimate civic education for us all even as we embark on educating others. Civic education is the ultimate cure for ignorance!

I leave you with the words of John F. Kennedy

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!”

Let’s continually do what we can do for our country and people rather than keeping asking the country and others to do things for us.

As I said to the youth in sports forum a few months ago, remember that:

“If you have the will to win, you have achieved half your success; if you don’t, you have achieved half your failure.” David Ambrose

Signed

Matunda Nyanchama (Matunda@matunda.org)

January 30, 2011


[1] Speech to Nyamira County Council of Elders Meeting – Nyangoge Primary School – January 30, 2011

 

Comments

Comment from Shem Bw’ageta
Time: February 2, 2011, 2:54 am

Greetings Daktari and this is very well said. Nyamira County has its share of problems and gone through every teething problem that accompanies self discovering and self invention. When all is said and done, on the face of a changing world we find we are faced with one option: adapt or perish as did the dinosaur and other primitive species that are now extinct, and that is where the Youth of Nyamira come in. To me youth is not passe’ a chronological index. It is more qualitative than just how old one is. It has more to do with the ability to understand the problems at hand and together, with others, reason what best need to be done (Since no single person is able) to save Nyamira that has sank into the rot created by misuse because of ignorance so that the people of Nyamira are misused as they applaud their exploiters masquerading as benefactors. We need to create avenues for information flow. We need more meetings we need……. oh yes we are needy. Ensinyo Mana Gokwanwa bobe, Mbamura etabwati.

Comment from melchizedeck
Time: February 2, 2011, 4:27 am

the dream of our founding fathers still lives on.it is not how many miles away we are from achieving it but how many miles we are ready to go to achieve the dream.if it was done somewhere else,it can ba done here-me and you and they

Comment from john Nyaga
Time: March 2, 2011, 1:46 pm

Your Schools are doing better than Other Counties Mr.Matunda.
You must be doing something very important or your challenges are getting managable Sir.How are you Boss?Long time no Hear.How is the Business doing?

Comment from Matunda Nyanchama
Time: March 3, 2011, 1:01 pm

Bwana Nyagah, thanks for your comment.

Education in Gusii counties is perhaps as low as any can get; as an example, there were ~46 university admissions from West Mugirango in the last intake! And that was, I am told, improvement over the past years. Consider that in other places, one school can have as many as 100 students qualifying for university. I suggest you look at the data from the Ministry of Education and reports on http://www.gusiieducation.org.

Life is ok otherwise; but we must work hard to make it good for all of us, regardless of our stations in life.

Shukrani

Comment from Tweya wycliff onsoti
Time: May 26, 2011, 6:31 am

hallo Daktari.it is to my delight that at last i have gotten to know you through a close colleague of mine..Daniel Bundi.Your views and observations about our county Nyamira are very true.we are facing quite a big challenge and this is retarding our progress.But we thank God that we at least have people like you who share in our cry to change the present pathetic state.we are ready to work with u hand in hand to help our people.it only needs our courage for..COURAGE is not the absence of FEAR but the presence of FEAR and the WILL to overcome it.I believe we can do it.

Comment from Matunda Nyanchama
Time: May 30, 2011, 9:27 am

Wyciff

We will get to know each other better and in the process realize our collective potential.

We have a lot ahead of us as a country and nation; we must give it our all to make it a better place for present and future generations.

NB: inbox me @ matunda@matunda.org; or via facebook.

Regards.

Comment from steve mogaka
Time: June 1, 2011, 6:27 am

Aye Matunda O’Chierusa amo nabande I salute you. Inche Sitibini Mogaka omwana O’Milka Kemunto nagokwanirie. Talks about our village, our constituency, our County or indeed Nation sound to me as talks about doomsday…………….Omotwe onyatirie, n’omogongo onyarire………..

I sometimes wonder whether Prof Okoth P’Bitek was not prophetically right so long ago when he wrote in his poems titled “Song of Lawino & Song of Ochol”. He poured out his tears and a near curse to His God “………why was I born Black…….”, Tata oito ore igoro ninki gaki torakore obucherie omogusii ominto obomo no’bwanchani?

This rekindles in my memory the Biblical suggestion to Job to curse his God so that he may, as it were, be taken away! Matunda Ominto We have written, spoken and even quarreled in countless fora of how and why things do not work out in our nation and our social substrata. “Obokonyi bwaito gose n’egetunia borarue! But we have so many ebitunwa bia Gusii from whence we have not had eyes to see any obokonyi.”

The tragedy is…”we talk as they die;and when they die we still talk..!” oh yes we do!

On my part I am making my small initiatives just as you are to get it right or at least to have some attitudinal shift and ignite self drive in all spheres for our people. The challenge I appreciate is that ESAIGA mentality of our respective individual initiatives by everyone everywhere every time has confirmed that while”Nguba emo tekoira ngombe roche”, discordant voices will never form any music;only noise.

We also know that our solution lies in political emancipation of our people but we pretend that preoccupation with diagnostics will provide solutions. We are reading the result of our collective malaise; a rot that has accumulated. We never learn t that prevention is better than cure. We acknowledge that we require curative therapy and sometimes amputation. Yet we are scared of losing the patient who in any event it is a matter of hours> If I was to be the man who will take the first dive, so be it. Short of that am sorry it just wont work.

Our God Given small county is quickly being rendered nonviable as all public appointments overfly this “micro-county” to politically more awake counties. Abaminto, “basacha mbari kobisana mbara,” Let us be candid with one another. We need a united front to correct the political equation in our county and country so as to to push for the proportionate share of the national cake and have it equitably distributed. Let us all go to the schools we attended and make them a reflection of what we are in society. Let us use our intellect to impact on our people when they are alive. Let us have modern public infrastructure within our Counties and stop marveling at what is coming up on the Thika Nairobi Highway.

For what does it benefit anyone to have all the knowledge and only be eulogized as one who only had enormous potentiality. “Toroisie amatanga aito ekero tore moyo”.

Above all I thank this forum and its subscribers. However like Our Lord Jesus Christ told that disabled man on his crutches all his life “………..throw away your crutches and walk……..”. Shall we all?

Steve Mogaka
Parliamentary hopeful West Mugirango

Comment from Matunda Nyanchama
Time: June 1, 2011, 10:30 am

Aye Steven Bwa’Elkana Mogaka Nyaboga na Milka Kemunto korua Nyabite, Siamani Mwanyabende.

‘Ntogambe; kweli ‘nguba emo tiyana koira ‘ngombe roche.

We are team players and will work with those that desire to work with us; and I doubt that the pertinent strategy can be designed over the internet on a blog like this. We have ongoing intense consultations and will team up as may be necessary.

One note: we are coming back precisely to serve and give back to our precious communities that made us be.

Matunda Nyanchama
Kiongozi Mtarajiwa – Kenya, Nyamira County, West Mugirango.

Comment from walter misire
Time: September 7, 2011, 7:05 am

Aye Matunda, inche Momanyi o’ Misire nagokwanirie.

Qualities of a governor in Nyamira spelt out:Credibility beyond reproach ,a good track record in leadersship and sound management, goodwill and willpower, in dealing with the hickups of a country ethically, and a profound capability in acad…emics and professionalism coupled with the all the key elements of a role mod, as seen from the grassroot societal interpretation; are some of the basic qualities to look for in choosing a governor in the county soil in my humble view point.The rationale to this and or justification is that Nyamira is a fast growing county that requires humble, committed leadership which is rich in local and global vision and strategy and of course a balanced person who is not greedy , a negotiator, peace maker and need to have international market taste and or cross cultural experience. An international expertize and or bias is key as the world has now become a global village and there are multiple forces to overcome if the county has to move on progressively with the same or a better pace than it is moving now- with the current classical economic oriented leadership. Education always pays dividend as it creates a capacity to filter and withstand many pressures. A governor needs to have a minimuim qualification of a good degree and above, coupled with bountiful experience in management/ administration and or any other noble private or public experience in any relevant challaging field. The calibre of Mr. Mishuki would do , the only impending factor is his age now.Let us have someone with substance in public sound delivery, accountable , honest and transparent, and Nyamira will never be the same. Wisdom in this game will count and shape the destiny of the county.

Momanyi Misire Jnr,
Senatorial hopeful,
Nyamira County.

Comment from Brian matara
Time: January 12, 2012, 12:43 pm

Nyamira couty need professional experts to a good strategic plan.

Comment from kennedy moindi
Time: April 13, 2012, 5:09 am

aye matunda, sitibini mogaka, walter and others who understand what a blog is pokea salute yangu.guys am proud of you becouse you have decided to give back to the community,we expect you to share with us your rich experience and help educate the people of nyamira county what is a head of us.our biggest problem is that we want people who can give us hand-outs like matunda ,but if you give us today and you dn’t give us kesho matunda is no more please please if we want to build our county lets first kill and bury the culture of hand-outs then we are ready for the county and all its matunda’s

Comment from ruskin
Time: October 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

The ever increasing number of unemployed youth should worry county residents. Unemployed and lacking any meaningful skill to be gainfully employed(self or otherwise). The lack of good schools to give the innocent child at the bottom of the pyramid a fighting chance to live a meaningful life. Our education system emphasis is all on learning by rote. Creativity and curiosity are not part of the package. What we are setting up ourselves for is failure; in which insecurity shall be the norm; without guaranteed safety then why would I or anyone else invest in the county? why would I risk lives by ‘appearing’ rich? Think About It. [No I am not seeking an elective post.]

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