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Post-Kanu Kenya & The Way Ahead – republish

Core Elements for Fundamental Change in Kenya for the 21st Century
2003 KCA Conference, Jersey City
, New Jersey; July 4-7, 2003
By Matunda Nyanchama[2]

Last December, our country underwent a landmark transition. In the 2002 elections, our people spoke with one voice. With that, they delivered the message of change. And for the first time since our independence, Kenyan leaders read well the mood of the country; the stark yearning for change has always been with us, considering that in the elections of 1992 and 1997, our people overwhelmingly voted for change. With the Narc victory, our country’s hope for a better future was revived. The transition empowered our people in effecting necessary change.

I would like to applaud our people for their persistence and no-wavering agitation for change — our people faced death, torture, detention without trial, persecution! they endured! They won! We won! Remember that as it is said: good will always triumph over evil!

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Among us in the conference are key members of the Narc government to who Kenyans awarded victory last December. I would like to thank them for reaching out to Kenyans Abroad! Let’s show appreciation for them and all other Kenyan leaders for their role in making the change happen in our country. For once, these leaders put their ambitions aside for the sake of change; they learnt to cooperate and with that gave our people the opportunity to realize change!

Although they took ten years to learn the necessary lesson, it is always better late than never! The tragedy, as it is said, is not with making mistakes! Tragedy lies with failure to learn from the past!

As all of us know, the task ahead of the government is not easy! I am sure that many are learning that it is easier being in opposition than on the other side.

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Our people are a patient lot as we all know; they have in the past endured the indignities of government and its security forces. They have watched as their tax money was squandered, roads run down, public property grabbed, political activists arrested, hospitals pillaged, jailed and (some) murdered. They bore the brunt of suffering as the economy stagnated; many died from hunger as famine, once unknown to us, became a norm.

We watched our country’s stature diminish in the regional and international arena; once a thriving and promising country of hard-working people, we became an international laughing stock as we retrogressed to times unknown. In that journey going backwards, we won the award for one of the most corrupt countries in the world[3]!

Poor governance saw the decline of key development (quality of life) indicators: infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy, access to clean water, per capita income, and general income distribution. Agriculture output declined. By the year 2000 coffee production had fallen by close to 60% of its 1980 output! Tea suffered a similar fate as did maize and wheat production. Not only were we earning less money from cash crops but our food production went down the tube as access to agriculture financing “died”, literary. There was hardly any advance in industrialization to speak of!

As a boy, I grew up believing the government’s promise of access to clean water for all Kenyans by the year 2000! Year 2000, came went, and we are miles from that target. Year after year, in budget statements, the government projected high, single-digit growths! That has come to pass too. And Kenya was supposed to be an industrial tiger by the year 2020! That is 17 years left to go and one more lie will be added to previous ones. There were promises, promises and more promises. This is at the time when government project completion rates were a paltry 3%! It was also a time of “see through” lies. For example, even when the economy was shrinking, numbers were fudged to suggest growth. And we went around the globe begging as if we had a right to do so. Former president Moi’s remarks as he left office were telling. His Excellency to this day blames the western donors for our economic woes! It is as if his rule was without blemish! What a shame! I doubt he has learnt that donors, the World Bank and the IMF have no obligation to develop Kenya! And that developing our country is our (us Kenyans!) responsibility!

Heh! But change has come! So why talk about the past? If you are asking that question, then you are in good company. D. H. Lawrence[4] also wondered thus: Why doesn’t the past decently bury itself, instead of sitting waiting to be admired by the present?

We know the answer: the past, present and the future are woven into a continuum. Without the past there cannot be the present; nor can there be a future without the present. There is more! A lot of people in the political arena today were there in the past, they continue to dominate the present and would to be part of the game in the future!

In our dissection of the past, let us reflect upon what went wrong so that we can make it right today and in the future; As Chinua Achebe would say: we need to understand when and where the rain started to beat us! Moreover, old, tested wisdom has it that those who forget history are bound to repeat it for, as one writer said: everything that has happened once can happen again![5]

Today, our people yearn to see the fruits of their struggle; they seek benefits of their endurance; they want to make for the losses suffered over the past three decades! And they are in a hurry! The warning to the government in Nairobi is that results must start happening soon, lest our people’s patience starts to wane. In the words of Kwame Nkrumah:

“We are running out of time in Africa, not only have we to eliminate or eradicate the deficiencies of our past, but we must also, in the shortest possible time, attempt to catch up with modern techniques of our time.”By Kwame Nkrumah

The rest of the world never slept as we retrogressed. In fact, the rest of the world made leaps and bounds in all spheres of development. Not only must we make for lost time, we must also do catch up!

But we cannot catch up without fundamental change in the way we do things. Our strategic direction must be clear and new; it must inspire our people’s trust and confidence that we can achieve; it must lay a sound foundation for a better Kenya, now and in the future.

Addressing these heightened expectations will be a challenge to the government and our people, especially following close to four decades of political mismanagement under the Kanu regime. These challenges are political, economic and social in nature and must be faced head-on if, as a country, we have to make a turnaround, capitalizing on the existing goodwill

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All of us have an obligation to work towards a better Kenya for the future, including speaking out; and by us I mean Kenyans of all walks of life as well as well-meaning global citizens. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that [quote]: “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter; he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” That has been the KCA spirit since the organization was founded; it is a spirit that we must live up to as Kenyans no matter our vocation in life.

In speaking out, however, we must be practical, talking the talk and walking the walk. As much as we may deconstruct others’ deeds, we must also propose constructive ways for making improvements. I strongly believe that we have the wherewithal: intellect, diverse training, experience, commitment, and more, that allow us to make a positive and meaningful contribution to our motherland. And that contribution can take many forms: ideas, material support, influence, lobbying, name it!

I am taking it upon myself to select what I call core elements needed for fundamental change in our country. In my view, work for the Narc government is cut out! In many cases, all that is needed is to do things differently from how Moi and his team would have done it!

That said, though, we must do better than we have done past; we must aim high if we have to make for the lost time! As some may say, we need a quantum leap. Indeed, for there to be fundamental change, we must go beyond an anti-Moi approach.

The core elements I present here are just a sample. In fact, we I to be more comprehensive, I would touch on each and every government function. However, I have selected a few that I think are critical to national revival.

A common theme running through these core elements:-

  • Restoration of confidence in the running of public affairs; our people, our neighbours, the international community and ourselves need to have confidence that things are running well by government; this touches on transparency, war on corruption, justice and fairness to all mwananchi, transparency in government business, including appointments to public office;
  • Repairing past damage, including the economy, education, health, agriculture, national security, infrastructure, relationships with Kenyan people, our neighbours and the international community;
  • Investment in the future: restructuring government, reforming &rebuilding institutions, investing in education, research, industrial development;
  • Freedom of expression, movement and flow of ideas; the nation must be a vibrant laboratory of ideas, idea sharing and experimentation. A free press (radio, Internet, television, etc) is essential for diffusion of ideas and knowledge sharing; a free press is essential for nation-building.

Of great important here is the war against corruption, institutionalization of public accountability and transparency in public affairs. This has internal, regional and international dimensions. It impacts the economy, security and the ability to attract investment.

To implement these ideas, the government needs to come with a strategic plan, complete with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which will form the blueprint for the road ahead. It is unfortunate that six months into the Narc administration, we do not have this strategic plan. Ministers continue to do pronouncements and act as if out of tune! In many cases, members of cabinet are going across the country, doing roadside policy-making and acting like a discordant choir! This is the Moi way! It must change: every minister needs a strategic plan that would benefit Kenyans. It is suggested that the President and cabinet take a three-four day retreat to hammer out such a plan. How else shall we measure their success?

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National Security
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Growing up in our time was a joy, although there are those that would say that things have become better. The security situation in the country was good. Today, it has become intolerable. A few weeks ago, in some rural part of the country, a gang raided, terrorizing the residents and robbing them as will. The gang asked for money. The victims remembering stories of people being killed for resisting such attacks chose to cooperate. They searched for money they could find and handed it over to the criminals who went on to ask for the car keys. These too were dutifully handed over. They then locked the victims away in one room, retaining only those that could help with loading stuff into the car. One by one, they carted away whatever of value they came across. Once the car was full, the thieves locked the “helpers” as well. And off they went!

Although pained by the loss they incurred that day, this family counts itself lucky considering no one was injured in any significant way. Others have not been as lucky. Those who have resisted such attacks have been murdered mercilessly; some killed in the presence of their kin!

It used to be that crime was urban. In many towns there are places that are “no go”; venturing therein will sure result in a robbery, murder or some other physical crime of some kind. On the other hand, petty crime such as small break-ins was all that one found in the rural areas. Now there is little difference. It is everywhere: farm, countryside, small town, big city, etc. It spares no one and nothing; in the dark of the night thieves steal crops from shambas, raid homes, rustle livestock and murder. Causes include influx of guns, high-levels of unemployment, income disparities, and more! Evils that must be tackled now!

Social studies suggest that investment in education cuts down crime substantially. The money spent in educating a population has a huge downstream impact that pays in terms of less policing, better economic participation, enhanced participation in the democratic process, and in all, better citizenry!

The government, as a matter of urgency, needs to focus on fighting crime! They must invest sufficient resources in securing the safety of our people! And as long as crime is pervasive, economic improvement will remain a mirage; tourism will remain in doldrums and no investor will give Kenya a second thought and economic development will be stifled! The minister for internal security is trying. However, there does not appear to be much progress on this front! In Kisii we say that gakiaborire ‘nchera rogoro, kerigerie ‘nchera maate! Government must change tactics considering that current approaches are not working!

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The Economy: Management & Investment
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Sometime in the year 2000 the Hon. Raila Odinga (now minister for Public Works & Housing) in the company of Hon. Najid Balala, Hon. William Ruto, among other visited Toronto. Raila took issue with KCA for focusing on the politics of the nation. He wanted us to include promotion of investment as part of our objectives.

My answer at the time, as it is today, is simple: do the politics right, enforce proper public management, ensure accountability and investment will follow: tunajua kwamba chema chajiuza kibaya chajitembeza. Unless we do our politics right, all manner of economic policy will remain just paper policy!

To date, the Kenyan economy has been managed for the benefit of a few rich. The collusion between those in government and business is almost diabolical. The privilege to do business as well as hold government jobs has been abused to an extent unknown in the modern world. It has meant that civil servants can preside over decisions in which they have an interest.

A recent song tells of the woes of corruption starting with an officer of government, the policeman on the beat, the caregiver in hospital, and so on. What used to be 10% kickback is no longer the case. We hear of cases where officers managing tenders ask bidders to double the value of their bids and pass the bid equivalence to the bid arbitrator. People born as corruption entrenched itself have grown to believe that one cannot do anything without bribing!

The genesis of corruption in Kenya dates back to the Ndegwa[6] Commission recommendations of mid-sixties that allowed civil servants to engage in business without preventing conflict of interest. While the Commission was well-intentioned, transparency checks and balances should have been implemented in tandem. Neither code of ethnics nor a means of its enforcement were put in place to facilitate transparency. Recently there have been calls to bury this report! I say bury it! However, in doing so, let us ask ourselves what we have learnt!

Efforts to fight corruption have been futile because of lack of credible crusaders against this scourge. In recent remarks at 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Seoul, South Korea, Minister Kiraitu Murungi, observed that the war on corruption has failed largely because we Kenyans have acted as fools, “sending hyenas to roast meat for us”!

The Narc government’s anti-corruption crusade is commendable. Actions like appointment of a Permanent Secretary for governance and ethics form good first step. The crusade needs to go further. It is said that influential Kenyans from the previous government have stashed millions, upon millions of dollars abroad.

There is more. We need genuine efforts to repatriate money stashed away in foreign countries. This money belongs to Kenya and should be brought in to aid the ailing economy. The initiative should have started on the day the government was sworn in. The question in many people’s minds is: When is the government going to start pushing for repatriation of Kenyan money stashed abroad? What diplomatic initiatives are underway to ensure this happens? What kind of cajoling, persuasion and pressure is planned to force those that continue to keep our money abroad to bring it home? In other words, when is the government going to start bringing our money back?

I would also like to suggest that the government takes seriously matters of economic policy formulation. In the past, such policies emanated from pronouncements at roadside, Harambee meetings, private parties such as weddings, and so on. Economic policy needs to follow proper process of formulation, adoption and implementation. One way to enhance this is investment in policy think tanks like the KIPPRA and IPAR. Policies need to have sound theoretical and practical basis before they are implemented.

A country is like a human body whose health depends on the proper functioning of its major organs with a healthy blood flow nourishing and cleaning up those organs. The national lifeline, akin to the blood system is the national infrastructure. Priority needs to be given to roads, the airlines, telecommunications, buildings, industrial parks, etc.

Invest in sectors that matter: roads, telecommunications, housing, agriculture, the cooperative movement, agriculture financing.

Of course we cannot do much without sound fiscal and monetary policy, complete with the necessary discipline to see policies through to implementation.

And how about the Auditor General reports that have gone unattended all these years that Kanu has been in power? A good first step is to start acting on these reports and bring to book the culprits. Their prosecution should be a major deterrence to the continued mismanagement of our economy!

In doing all these we shall be serving our country and mwananchi. It is like a new beginning and a renaissance. In the words of South African President, Thabo Mbeki:

“The African renaissance is about creating a new Africa, about ending poverty and oppression, regaining dignity.”By President Thabo Mbeki

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Reform & Restructure Government Business
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The need for a new dispensation in our country has never been more urgent. History has given us great opportunity to reshape our nation for the future. If indeed our national interest includes placing the country on a new, a development friendly footing, then we need some dramatic, far reaching steps to usher into place fundamental changes in how our country in run. Restructuring will radically redistribute state power sending most of that power to the grassroots.

We have never been confronted with greater opportunities to restructure the business of governing the country. I say restructure deliberately rather than incremental reforms that have been the subject of debate throughout the 1990s and early part of this decade. In this address, I offer three examples (there could be more): the Policing of the Country, Provincial Administration and Local Government Management.

The current government structure is far from democratic. Five-year elections do not a democracy make when power is centralized in Nairobi and exercised through a centralized unelected power structures such as the Provincial Administration and the Kenyan Police. If indeed democracy is government of the people, by the people for the people, as Abraham Lincoln said, then we have a long way to go before our country becomes a truly democratic nation.

Is the provincial administration democratic? Is the management of local governments from Nairobi democratic? How about the election of mayors? Is centralized policing of Kenyan people democratic?

Restructuring must be both bold and far-reaching. As profound as it can be, restructuring needs to be meaningful and engender positive long-term impact for our people. Restructuring must, in long term, support democratic development.

A. As a first step towards decentralization, and in aid of democratization the government, needs to dismantle the provincial administration. This is one thing that they can do without going through tedious constitution negotiation. Here is a sample process:

  • Cabinet take the decision to do a way with provincial administration;
  • The Attorney General is instructed to table a bill to that effect;
  • Parliament debates and passes the bill;
  • A task force is appointed to carry out the decision of parliament
  • Etc.

My sense is that making the decision, debating the bill and appointing a task force should be a six month process. The implementation process should take a maximum of four years. In that time, power that is currently wielded by the unelected provincial administration will pass to elected organs such as local authorities.

B. In the same spirit we must decentralize the Utumishi kwa Wote. There is absolutely no reason why the country must be policed from Nairobi. This approach is neither friendly nor effective. Policing needs to be a local issue, managed by restructured local authorities.

Police issues world over remain matters of local concern. The police deal with the day to day matters of crime and keeping the peace. In its present form, the police come in as an occupying force, have little time to understand local law-related issues and end up being a burden to the communities they are supposed to serve. Because they lack roots in communities they police, the police invariably engage in local crime, extorting the populace and colluding with criminals in the exploitation of mwananchi.

C. There is more. Local authorities happen to be the closest form of government to the people. Yet these have been emasculated by the central government with Local Government ministers exercising an inordinate amount of power over elected councils! And while we appreciate current attempts at local government reforms, they appear to be a kind of “tinkering”, rather than fundamental change.

There was once a promise of change when parliament passed Hon. Kijana Wamalwa’s (now Vice-President) private members’ bill for the direct election of majors. The government of the day balked at implementation. Now that Hon Wamalwa is in government can he embark on this realization?

Scrapping the provincial administration, decentralizing policing, empowering local authorise, among other things, will be close to revolutionary. I am hoping that the Kenyan leadership has some revolution mettle in their bones. Kwame Nkrumah tells us that: “revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought.” President Kibaki and many on around the cabinet table are men of thought! They need to demonstrate that they are men and women of action.

On constitutional reforms here is what one writer said:

“We rest our hopes for too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies, there is no constitution, no law, no courts can save it; no law, no constitution can even do much help. And what is this which must be in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless unbridled will; it is not the freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to it overthrow. A society in which men and women recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of a savage few.”

For those that have staked Kenya’s future on the coming constitutional reforms, I have bad news for you. Constitutional changes are not a panacea to our problems as a country. Experts agree that if the existing constitution had been implemented and followed to the letter, the country would have attained substantially more than it has! A constitution is a number of words written on a piece of paper. It is meaningful to the extent that we adhere to its word and spirit.

While proposed reforms are laudable, I am afraid that the fixation on personal, short-term power struggle will taint the final document. The lessons from the 1960s should be informative. The fixation with issues of the day caused reforms that violated the spirit of the constitution. These include: detention without trial, enactment of the one-party state, etc. We continue to live with the legacy of this fixation!

Finally, our search for a democratic and just society must be tempered with realism. No society in the world has ever attained a fully democratic condition. The words of Winston Churchill, British wartime prime minister that democracy is the worst system of government ever devised by mankind, except for all the others ring as true today as they were more than 50 years ago!

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Education, Science & Technology
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In the 1970s the government embarked on an initiative to build colleges of technologies across the country. These colleges were intended to complement training offered by polytechnics, universities and other mid-level colleges in manpower development for the country. In that period we saw the establishment of such institutions as Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology (RIAT), Western College (WECO), Kimathi Institute of Technology, Gusii Institute of Technology (GIT and many others.

This was a positive development. I do not have the numbers but my sense is that these colleges have contributed substantially to the development of our human resources. They have equipped individuals with skills useful for earning a living, contributing to the economy and being good citizens in our land.

Under the past regimes we have also seen new universities in Egerton, Maseno, Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology, among others. There are also private universities such as USIU, Baraton, Catholic University and many others.

At the same time, more Kenyans are seeking higher education outside the country more than ever before. Kenyan student populations continue to grow in such countries as the USA, UK, Canada, India, China, Poland, South Africa, and many more.

The demand for higher education has never been greater. In proportionate terms, higher education facilities are meagre and their state wanting. In fact, the neglect of the past regime seemed intent to reducing these academic institutions into glorified high schools. In collusion with the IMF and World Bank, the government starved these institutions of funds for facilities, books, academic and other staff.

President Kibaki has taken the a good first step in appointing separate chancellors for our institutions. However, more needs to be done. Here are examples:

  • Universities are still fixated on undergraduate training; where is the research and development?
  • Focus has been largely in the social sciences (arts); where are the sciences, entrepreneurship and the likes?
  • There is low collaboration with industry to turn academic knowledge into products and services; where are the paths of knowledge flow into the common society?

Some innovative considerations:

  • Research & Development tax credit for academic-industry partnerships;
  • Financing for ideas that look promising;
  • Invest in new technologies; embrace Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and other technologies that would jumpstart the economy;
  • Investment in culture, arts, etc. – the Hollywood phenomenon! Cultural exports, richness of African culture, indigenous knowledge, etc.

Kenya can borrow from the Indian experiment of national institutes of technology. Established soon after independence in 1947, these institutions have faced national challenges of that country through innovative research and development; the linkages with industry have generated tremendous benefits for that country through commercialization. Here are some noted results:

  • A few years ago it was reported that one in every three companies started in Silcon Valley was associated with an IIT graduate from India;
  • India provides the largest offshore software development for the IT industry;
  • Outside of United States and Europe, India has some of the largest technology services company;
  • And more …

There is value in investing in a few, high-quality institutions that are premised on research, development and industry-academia-public sector partnerships.

Caution: investment in education will be futile unless qualified people get opportunities to serve in positions in which to utilize their expertise!

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The Nation’s Health
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The vitality of any country depends on its people’s health. There is direct correlation between the way health of the people is managed and economic output. The reasons are simple: sickness impacts productivity. Lack of access to healthcare means that we have fewer healthy workers in the farms, factories, schools and offices. The health of a nation must be taken more seriously than has happened in the past.

The cost-sharing scheme needs to be revisited. This makes health services beyond the reach of many people. On documented cases in Zimbabwe (where the circumstances are similar to Kenya) it was found that people come to the hospital at terminal stages in their illnesses! Caring for terminally ill is much more expensive than providing them with universal primary care. This care, of necessity, must be preventative.

The government needs to explore ways of creating a universal health insurance scheme that all Kenyans can afford. In the past the National Hospital Insurance Fund has acted as a cash cow for many corrupt hospitals, something that must be stopped forthwith through proper controls to ensure that funds are used for what they are collected for.

A key component is retention of doctors and health workers in a competitive global economy. If we ever hope to hold our own against this onslaught, we must offer attractive packages for these individuals that sacrifice so much to ensure we have a healthy nation. The past altercations where doctors’ concerns were arrogantly dismissed must stop. (Incidentally, if I were to choose who to award a pay increase, I would choose medical personnel ahead of politicians and their fat cheques!)

Our national population continues to grow and health management is becoming more complex; it is important to invest in health management. Aids and HIV continue to impact our people. This scourge, that should have been tamed at its infancy, needs more attention than it is getting. And while the president has taken a good lead in this score, more needs to be done, especially in rural Kenya where 70% of Kenyans live.

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The Politics of the Nation: Unity of Vision and the Creation of a Kenyan Nation
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Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed. – Chairman Mao Tse-Tung[7]

In the past we have played our politics to our national detriment! Instead of doing politics (war without bloodshed) we have made it war (politics with bloodshed). How else can we account for past assassinations, detention without trial, political jailing, ethnic cleansing and political persecution? Clearly, there is something fundamentally wrong with the picture of incarceration of individuals simply for speaking out! In any case, we also know that wisdom has never been the preserve of a single individual; and a diverse nation offers diverse points of view.

Development happens when there is progression from anti-thesis to thesis to synthesis, which means that even when we may have diametrically opposed views, we can always find a common ground upon which to work. Our politics must be predicated upon cooperation and compromise. Too often in the past, we have been governed as if others did not matter. Let’s remember that in Kenya no single party, no single individual, and not even a single ethnic group can sustain the Kenyan nation by pursuing purely selfish interests. Our challenge, therefore, is to define the “national interest”; once defined, it is our duty to behave, speak and act within the context of national interest.

We have a diversity of languages – more than 40 of them! Our 30 million strong population boasts of cultural diversity as depicted by our languages, our songs, our dances, our initiation ceremonies, our food varieties, our worship! We have a range of occupations of survival including fishing, farming, doing business, being pastoralists and many more! And that is as a nation should be. This diversity enriches us and forms the core of our strength in that I can stay in Nairobi and depend on the fishermen in Kisumu or Lake Naivasha to deliver fish for my dinner. I can live and work in Nairobi and depend on the farmer in Meru to deliver tea or coffee which will employ someone else in the processing, marketing and sales. I can be the privileged consumer of this coffee as a worker in Nairobi, Mombasa or, for that sake, Toronto, Canada and still be proud to be Kenyan.

There are more examples: I can be the privileged recipient of Gidi Gidi & Maji Maji music, abroad or back in Kenya, where I can enjoy the creative talents of our people, no matter their ethnicity, their age, religion, name it!

So what is the solution?

As a boy I loved listening to Radio Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. I loved their Kiswahili language and the poetic nature of the broadcasts. The philosophical nature of Kiswahili music was one of the most entertaining and thought provoking I have ever listened to.

There is another reason I loved Radio Tanzania: politicians there spoke of Tanzanian nationalism, Tanzanian independence, and Tanzanian nation-building. Schools taught elements of citizenry and the unity of the Tanzanian nation! Today, researchers tell us that Tanzania is perhaps one of the most cohesive nations on the African continent.

The unity of vision for a country, the definition of common interest and the dedication to the country does not happen in a vacuum! It is a deliberate effort and process that must be enunciated and delivered by the political class, the school system and businesses?

We have duty as a people to learn to be Kenyans, even when we are Kikuyus, Luos, Merus, Akambas, Kisiis, etc. We need to learn from countries that have succeeded as multicultural nations. Examples are Tanzania, Canada, United States and others.

Let’s create that unity of national vision and the fan everywhere in the country, preaching it in pulpits, public meetings, weddings, funerals, political rallies, schools, etc. Let’s create drama, song, dance, and poetry to celebrate our Kenyanness. Let’s celebrate our Kenyanness in stories we tell each day! Let’s live and breathe our Kenyanness.

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Some Closing Thoughts
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There are many core elements that need to be addressed. The discussion here focused on specific examples as an illustration of what we need to do. The suggestions offered can be applied to other areas of government.

I would like to leave you with thoughts of some great men of the last century. Nikita Khrushchev said the following about politicians:

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.” – Nikita Khruschev.

Charles de Gaulle also speaking of politicians observed thus:

“I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to politicians.” – Charles de Gaulle.

Finally, the words of Bill Moyers speak directly to us all. Addressing “Take Back America Conference”, he said thus:

Ideas have power – as long as they are not frozen in doctrine. But ideas need legs. The eight-hour [work] day, the minimum wage, the conservation of natural resources and the protection of our air, water, and land, women’s rights and civil rights, free trade unions, Social Security and a civil service based on merit – all these were launched as citizen’s movements and won the endorsement of the political class only after long struggles and in the face of bitter opposition and sneering attacks. It’s just a fact: Democracy doesn’t work without citizen activism and participation, starting at the community. Trickle down politics doesn’t work much better than trickle down economics. It’s also a fact that civilization happens because we don’t leave things to other people. What’s right and good doesn’t come naturally. You have to stand up and fight for it – as if the cause depends on you, because it does. Allow yourself that conceit – to believe that the flame of democracy will never go out as long as there’s one candle in your hand. – Bill Moyers

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for lending me your ears!


[1] Speech to the 2003 Kenya Community Abroad (KCA) Conference
[2] Founding President of KCA
[3] According to Transparency International reports.
[4] Webster’s Dictionary of Quotations; subject: The Past
[5] ibid
[6] Duncan Ndegwa headed a commission that recommended that civil servants can do business even as they held their positions in government.
[7]Webster’s Dictionary of Quotations; subject: Politics and Politicians.

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