What on earth is this nebulous notion? Edgar Cayce; an American Christian mystic cum author even thought of as a troubled man who nevertheless answered many questions on varied subjects once quipped from the top of his head that, “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.” This assertion was made almost a century ago but still rings ever so true with unquestionable veracity even today. On this train of thought, tomorrow’s questions have already been asked by the dreams we have today. That is why I pose this question. – What constitutes the Kenyan dream? What destiny do we aspire to as a people? I hear someone say a six-figure salary, a 5-acre plot, 4-wheel drive vehicle, 3 bed-roomed house, 2 children and one wife. We all know Kenya as a land wrapped up in great potential. As a matter of fact our very own national anthem names our country as a ‘heritage of splendour.’ Why then is it that according to some Gaussian curve I once chanced upon, forty years later for every 100 people who get into employment five still work but are broke, 36 are dead, 54 are dead broke, 4 are surviving and only one is actually wealthy?
But I digress. Once upon a time our forebearers fought hard to guarantee we had Peace, Love and Unity. Back then they only had to eschew the jaws of illiteracy, poverty and disease to deem themselves to have made it in life. We voted for an auspicious, glossy-looking, seemingly progressive and beautifully crafted document of a constitution more than 6 years ago but how much do we gain from it? We enshrined in it freedoms and tried to address oversights from the previous editions that had been greatly injurious to our collective causes while elevating our former presidents and their sycophants to demigod status. Who remembers the Act 7 section 2A (1982) that our second president almost clobbered the entire assembly while being forced to repeal back in 91’ that had this great land as a ‘de Jure’ one-party state, him as head honcho almost an emperor who was head of state, government, commander in chief of the armed forces, chancellor of all public universities, farmer #1 et al… He menacingly warned of dire consequences if we were to allow multiparty democracy while admonishing all and sundry that the aforementioned move will not add to the saucepans of ‘ugali’ in the citizenry’s collective pantries.
Maybe he was right. It is clear that the enabling environment for the attainment of such lofty ambitions is not available. I dare ask this question. What is the use of catalysts in the ambit of a myriad of limiting factors? I have a few reasons attainment these lofty reverie is proving a pipe dream. Encouragement of mediocrity by our leadership cadre, run away corruption, believing in the illusion of riches without trade and innovation, peace without truth and justice, preaching unity while practicing tribalism & parochialism, economic disenfranchisement of regions perceived to be in the opposition, environmental degradation in the guise of industrialization & enterprise, general ineptitude, impunity & high-handedness by the three arms of government, insufficient support for the county government among many other ills.
Let me delve into these issues. Our leadership has ignored our collective intellect and endeavours to make us worship at the altar of mediocrity. They expect us to give them great credit for executing the very mandate we elected them to perform. For building hospitals, schools, rural electrification, water projects, roads, airstrips they now want us to kiss the ground they tread.
Corruption has been widely accepted as a norm in this country. You will be castigated and heavily riled in your home county if you ever walked the corridors of public office but did not take the opportunity to engage in self-aggrandizement and dip your fingers in the cookie jar. The people will ask why you did not in Chinua Achebe’s words, ‘take down all the wood you could when you had the chance to climb the great Iroko tree.’ You will be reminded that you were not born alone and if you do not care about yourself at least do it for your kith and kin. Stories of engagement in corruption have become like the standard-bearer at exclusive ‘big boy’ clubs and parlours. Working in procurement once frowned upon by many of the intellectually apt candidates after school has become even more lucrative than engineering, medicine and law. Guys are literally going back to school to do post-graduate courses on the same after initially pre determining to trace other career paths. Why? To take advantage of the largesse and good fortune that may meet them in this new career preferably in government service.
A new culture is arising among the populace propagated by companies owned by people high up in the chain of power. It is also brooked from our despondency and despair of a fair chance to ever make something of ourselves from hard work and enterprise. It is the belief that you can make money from literally nothing with minimal work. You only have to buy a ticket or play a third rate clairvoyant and predict a set of numbers, some event or other and voila! If it comes to pass then you make a windfall! This totally goes against the grain of the basic law of economics, ‘no money for nothing’ but who am I to talk about that?
Real Peace can only brook from Truth and Justice. Empirical wisdom has always found a way to show that there is a lull before a great storm. You cannot just tell people to accept their predicament, move on and expect that such is enough to make them live as brothers and sisters. As proven by science you cannot have two immiscible liquids being forced to mix with each other without having one as a colloid. The same can be stated of human interaction. When one party is perceived to have propagated an injustice against the other there should be no need to make them live together before reconciliation and redress.
Preaching unity while practicing tribalism and parochialism. There is this old age adage about preaching water and drinking wine. A perilous trend is emerging. We thought it had died with the past but apparently is being propagated by the scions of the previous regimes. It has become a prevalent rallying call especially in this time prior to the election. Senior members of government are on record making it known as clear as day that if you do not vote for them, then when they win they will make certain your region is totally omitted from government and suffers all the disadvantages that come with that. They literally promise a doomsday event if you do not unite with them to apparently ‘form the government.’ In a democratic culture where the winners are to have their way and losers their say this is not meant to happen. As they say, choices have consequences. That is what we get for voting in men not worth their salt. Men not even fit to herd a flock of sheep. Such threats to disenfranchisement against the opposition have no place in today’s democratic society guided by the rule of law. Some of these fellows even purport to be Christians, please!
Environmental degradation in the guise of industrialization and enterprise should be discouraged at every twist and turn. Any complainants are accused of jealousy and sabotaging the country’s development agenda. There is cause for alarm when infrastructural development projects are built at the expense of the environment and the circle of life. This is the only Kenya we have. Destroying it by defying nature will ultimately cause grief much worse than the devil can ever wreck. And this time round he will not be to blame for our asinine and repugnant ineptitude. Remember the words of our very own homegrown heroine Wangari Maathai.
Insufficient support for the regional governments is also a cause for concern. However, this is a double-edged sword like the one hanging over Damocles. The counties also shoot themselves on the foot. This is by disoriented financial spending and in a way least beneficial to the interests of the people.
All is not lost. We can still recapture the Kenyan dream which has a close correlation with vision 2030. Here are the steps to take:
- Always exercise your right to vote. It is your prerogative anyway. If you do not take that chance, you will lose the moral authority to complain about any leader that will be chosen. This is the only way to get the leader you need.
- Focus more on factors that unite us more than what creates rifts among us. We should share stories of virtue with all who care.
- The Government must expeditiously address social inequalities and historical injustices.
- Our Government should go on a campaign of ensuring social cohesion by economic empowerment of the youth. It should also promote the entrepreneurial spirit.
- Proportionate distribution of national resources.
- Electoral reform to improve credibility of the ‘referee’ body.
- As Kenyans we have an onerous task to define the parameters of this dream and with vitality pursue it in earnest.
- Civic education to create a critical mass of individuals with a deeper insight on the destiny they want for their nation.
- Environmental protection by tree planting and other measures.
- Hold our leaders to greater scrutiny of their role, manifestos and if they hold any vision for their jurisdiction.
- Ensure the newly enacted constitution is implemented in both letter and spirit to make us a nation that adheres to the rule of law we in great zeal voted for.
- Put an end to impunity for all arms of government. Nobody should ever be deemed above the law.
If we do this we will keep the national fabric of our great nation intact and have a country we can truly be proud and happy to be citizens of. This will ultimately yield a prosperous nation.