Monday, August 20, 2007


Philo Njeri Ikonya, is the future of leadership in Kenya. I will use Philo’s political leadership as an example of how she engages many people on many different economic, social, and ethnic levels in a dialogue on a very explosive topic. Philo’s leadership skills and ability to listen, understand, and lead people affect all areas of her life. Leadership does not mean forcing one’s opinion loudly and intimidating. A truly effective leader should be able to listen, dialogue, and then engage those around one to take action. I have seen her grab the attention of all those around her and effectively engage them in constrictive conversation. She interacts and dialogues with people not by force, or yelling, but through grace and a gentle nods.
Kenya is in need of a drastic change in the dialogue of political power between the leaders and the people. This dialogue must begin with leaders who can engage a dialogue about leadership and power at all social levels. The elite group of leaders in Kenya have not fully used Kenya’s vast amount of resources—intellectual, agricultural, labor, entrepreneurial spirit. As long as the wealthy and connected men continue to remain in power, Kenya will not be able to excel in development and rise above its state of financial, social, and gender inclusive poverty.
In the past two and half months I have accompanied Philo to her constituency in Kimbaa, I have attended political rallies, political party and civil society meetings with her. I have seen Philo interact with politically and economically powerful men and women, and men, women and youth at the grassroots level. She has amazed me with her ability to connect with people, regardless of their social class. She can engage the village chief, the local banana seller, the leaders of political parties, and competing politicians in a dialogue about a what political power should bring to Kenya and Kenya’s many possibilities. At the grassroots level, you can actually see people start to question their situation. You can see them trying to understand that instead selling their votes for 50 shillings to buy one meal, they can improve their life by voting someone to power that will be a servant of the people. Even at the grassroots, politics is about power, for everyone involved. A candidate can buy a poor farmer’s vote because for one brief instance, the farmer feels like he has power over the wealthy politician. What is starting to change in Kimbaa, because of Philo presence and lessons, is that voting for someone who will serve them is the ultimate political empowerment. Philo’s leadership is not just about politics, she is changing the way people imagine their future. She is bringing them hope, a change, and a new view of power.

1 comment:

  1. you are the leader that Kenyans need to emulate.You are a role model to my two little daughters.