Sunday, April 29, 2012

For a Lady or Lord of the dance in Kenya: It is time for change!

Once, he said, the Thembu the Pondo, the Xhosa adnd the Zulu were all children of the same father....the white man shattered the abantu...Long walk to Freedom

In 1969, Norway from where I am writing, discovered oil. Before that, it was among the poorest countries in Europe, second to Ireland. In 1969, I  got an offer to go to a good primary school on account of my mother having been a good student herself and very much by luck, been among some of the early Loreto nuns trained girls in Limuru. Education was the oil of our family.

My parents like many others put in their lives and souls into our learning to read and write. Character was emphasised. I can say today that we are not poor. Today, Kenya is poor, however, even if she does try. Today 2012, Kenya has at last confirmed oil is within her borders. But still the eyes of the hungry child meet mine - They haunt me. They are many eyes. They include those of the youth. What is the meaning of having one or two dialysis machines in Kenyatta National Hospital? Doctors and teachers are frequently on strike in Kenya these todays too.There are many types of famines.

Still the promises of independence in1963: elimnation of poverty, disease and ignorance are relevant. Of course one cannot eliminate all disease and ignorance but much of it yes. Poverty overcome actually means these two other forces really dwindle. Oil. But in countries that find oil in Afrika, often comes a curse. Resources kill Afrika. Aid kills Africa. Aids kills Africa.  We are seeing it in action now in the two Sudans where one cannot but be sorry watching innocent women, children and men lying in hospitals which are not even equipped for daily sicknesses taking in victims of unacknowledged bombings. Who will lead young people in growth in larger principles? Who hold up bigger images of humanity so that they do not support corrupt leaders and instead stand up for justice? It is encouraging to see Lillian Ikal's efforts. And to know, it can be done! She cheers us up!

Lillian Ikal Angelei: Winner of the Goldman  2012 Prize  for  environment

We know that 60% of Kenyas population is young, below 18 years of age. It is very important then that young people know and love democratic principles. It is key that they see this reflected in the lives of their elected representatives. They are ones paying them. In Kenya, Members of Parliament take the second most highest salary in the world. The President earns even more, as do cabinet ministers.

I remember the moment in the film Invictus when Mandela receives his first payslip as president and he is so surprised at the amount! It is too much. He immediately says he will contribute to some projects. His concern to bring races together without leaving out Afrikaaners after apartheid is overriding. He leads. A rugby match becomes vital. Who is watching for what can unite Kenyans across different ethnic groups? Who is telling them that this tribe thing is not us? That it came to us for the purposes of power? That the beast created does not fit into the description of any ethnic group we know? Why do we not like JM Kariuki speak more about the deprivation of resources that hits all people across and divides us into the poor and the rich, the class struggle more than tribalism? Why do we not get lost in issues rather than be cheated that it is our wonderful diversity of culture that is killing our nation? Greed?

In Kenya, breaking the trend of highly salaried politicians has been impossible for Kenyans. Until recently Members could raise their salaries after a simple survey by a judge whose procedures the public were hardly privy to. Today this is still a concern. Read this link for more.

So that 60% of the youth we are talking about are mainly in the poor bracket as must be true if we say 90% of the population is poor and that Kenya's wealth due corruption patterns is held by 10% of the population. The way of the elected representative is not the way to go! The lack of good distribution of resources is one of the reasons why people will die to see someone who shares a name and a language get to power. And these people do not lead the people not to think that way. They say if their own is in power, then they will eat the national cake together. This is a continent where blood ties are very valued. It is easy to make people corrupt in the practice of nepotism, corruption and the elimination of the other who is seen as an enemy.

Yet those whom we pay to lead the nation do not want to acknowledge their failures in the past and in the present since they seek to continue in office at higher or same levels. The distortion of tribe has occured and what exists in the mind of many is tribalism not differences and similarities of cultures and Ubuntu. This is used in favour of those who seek political power.

I heard that to my surprise the younger people who are even on social media and advanced in use of present day social tools are not less easily vulnerable to negative ethnicity to my surprise. But why should I have been surprised if negative ethnicity is nothing but  a result of dictatorships? Am I expecting power hungry people to want to that democracy that truly believes in the voice of the people?

It has come to this. President Kibaki believes that all these young people and the rest of the nation will only be safe in the hands of a leader from one part of the country. This is obvious to most of us inspite of the fact that Uhuru Kenyaata stands indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. He and William Ruto another politician, Francis Muthaura, then Secretary to the Cabinet and Joshua Sang a radio journalist, hoped that the Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo would not find enough evidence for their trial but he did. The trial must commence soon.

The young people concern me because they more than anyone else should be changing the way they view Kenya if we are to hope for a better country for our children and theirs. There has to be a way out for Kenya. The two Sudans, Somalia and Ethiopia are weak neighbours in terms of understanding of freedom and cohesion as nations.

Reading history and reflection calls us to deep conscientization.  Many politicians were to blame we have seen. But how is it that the good people and the good politicians are not able to turn all of us to greater good and virtue when they so easily turned us to hate? How is it? Is it as they say that it is harder to build than to demolish even in the making of a happy and achieving nation? Why is it that we cannot hear one another, at least some of us and not so few of us, across certain divides? What makes us not realise that in a real sense, there are only two divisions. Those who have, the rich, and those who do not have. For the people who have and are busy with their businesses, even in politics rub shoulders with anybody who helps them reach their goal of achieving more. The people who do not have, do not care who their boss is in terms of ethnic origin as long as at the end of the day they can take bread home to the children they have not choice to do otherwise than bring up amidst all this? So that even based on very  material grounds, it is possible to cross certain divides.

A country does not fall apart because only some people are not playing their role. It must also be true that most of us are not innocent. How is it possible that university faculties have been found to be matriculating students into faculties based on ethinic favour.? How is it that our heroes in athletics could not stand with one voice in 2007 when voices of unity were so needed in a burning country? How is it that many people with clout were silent and those of us willing to speak were not getting media to amplify our voices? How is it that the media was so corrupted as to be taking money from the rich for their voices to dominate those of the humble people who tried to influence the mood of the nation and to find platforms to articulate better policies? How is it that the police was divided on ethnic grounds? An administration policeman testified to me that they looked at their colleagues as tribe for the first time. How is it that the churches including the Catholic leadership was riven by tribal considerations in the body of its bishops? The priests?

The thoughts of division along superficial lines and laziness in speaking unity and achieving together live in us.  The violence continues in tribal hatred and what has come to be Kenya's frequent experiences of grenades thrown in bus stops and preyer meetings, bars and other places -today in a church at 8.50 am- is violence brought about by people who live in our homes, worship in the same places and who are in our midst all the time.

Wisdom escapes us. Those who have media attention because of their positions in society are bereft of healing actions and words. It is tempting to be preachy and to say this and that to so and so in politics and to lose the deep conscientization which wisdom, reading and reflection calls us to. After my experience of violence in 2007 in Kenya, I know now that we must not let a deep sense of collision and lack of irrationality reign. I see my country fragmented and very tribal.

So that the lady or lord of the dance who seeks to lead the people of Kenya as president from the year 2013 must change the usual rhetoric we hear on TV and our radios. People just seeking for power. For me it is time to learn an new song and dance. It is time to find unity by pointing at our various successes.  We have the August 27th constitution. We struggle for it. We have leaders who are heard and who must acknowledge their failures and offer to help lead the youth to better recognition of self as nation.

We have the teachings of Gandhi, Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King. Justice, recognition of failure and reconciliation must come into play. The media must ask for this agenda from those who want to lead Kenya from 2013. The people must undress the presidency of the notion that it is so powerful that the people cannot determine who they are. We need to define ourselves and to tell the youth that we have made a big mistake. That we are willing to undo this mistake without which Kenya cannot go forward. We have the oil, let us uproot corruption. Maybe then, like Norway in less than 50 years, in this age of fast communication it should take us less, Kenya will be riding high. If not, I shudder to think of it, but we are not immune to a Somalia disintegration of a the nation state. We have been warned about that in the past. Hon. Paul Muite pronounced it. These days Kenya is very challenged by violence within and around it. We must find the right step to lead diversity of religion, ethnic background and gender in the right dancing steps. We must find leaders who cultivate other leaders at every level in every area of Kenya with the urgency and sense of duty of a mother who holds a sick and dying child in her hands.  We have no time for people who are paid to be corrupt and sit pretty as the nation dies. Kenya has hope in those who would risk their lives to save to mobilise a community for good. Lillian is setting the pace! We can dispell this gloom!