DR NZILU MUSYOKI
“Young people, corruption is not a path to life; it’s a path to death”, a timely message by Pope Francis to the youth, while on a three-day tour of Kenya. He went on to explain corruption in a simple manner, understandable to the young people. “Corruption is something that eats inside, like sugar” he said. Too much of sugar leads to diabetes, and a country ends up being diabetic. “Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts. We destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don’t develop a taste for that sugar which is called corruption. As in everything you have to make a start. If you don’t want corruption in your lives, hearts and country, start now. Because if you don’t start, then the person that’s beside you won’t start”.
The message reiterated values which are stipulated in Kenya’s Constitution which include good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability. The message was also timely as Kenya is grappling with corruption. Indeed, the choice to end corruption is in our hands.
Another value that the Pontiff spoke about was unity. Why do divisions, wars and death occur? Fanaticism and divisions among young people? he asked. His answer was lack of unity which leads to tribalism, corruption and drugs. It takes us to destruction out of fanaticism. He challenged the youth to understand different cultures and customs and to ask themselves whether they feel their cultures are superior or inferior.
Simply put, social cohesion calls for understanding of each another. He asked the youth to stand up against tribalism and to listen to others. If we don’t dialogue with each other then we will be divided, “like a worm that grows in society”. The Pope also spoke about tribalism to the youth, saying that it can be destructive, but it can be overcome through our ears, our hearts, and our hands.
While addressing religious leaders; the Pope emphasised on upholding human dignity. He said that there is need for interreligious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness. By upholding respect for that dignity and those rights, the religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions, and training good citizens, capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain.
In his message at State House the Pontiff acknowledged Kenya as a young and vibrant nation, a richly diverse society which plays a significant role in the region. A nation working to build on the solid foundations of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, a multiethnic society which is harmonious, just and inclusive. He encouraged all Kenyans to work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society; to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed the country with.
Pope’s message was timely and timeless. We must uphold our values as a nation. They are the principles that make the core of our being and define who we are and how we choose to be, to do or to have. As wananchi, let us choose a value based lifestyle and lay the foundation of a nation with character; a nation built through hard work, integrity and good governance: A nation that generations to come, will be proud of.
(Dr Musyoki is the Acting Chief Executive Officer – Brand Kenya Board)