BY KAPLICH BARSITO
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has received a lot of flak for talking about the future of Kenya. The contention is that it is not yet appropriate to talk about 2012. Let us be clear: 2012 is the future of Kenya; 2008 is the past-a terrible, painful and traumatic one-but the past nevertheless.
We cannot fear or avoid the future because our past is painful. Instead we must remain open to face the future because it will not go away.
Talking about the future is healthy as it bodes well for the long term stability of Kenya. Keeping quiet and pretending that things will somehow fall neatly into place by themselves come the next election, is neither strategic nor sensible. The violence in 2008 stemmed from manipulation of the electoral process, hate speech and pre planned violence. The Vice President is certainly not engaged in hate speech.
What the Vice President is doing is engaging leaders and the populace in charting the way forward. There cannot be a solution if we bury our heads deeper in the sand for fear of being accused of ambition. If ambition is to see Kenyans live in peace and forge together to develop their country –so be it!
In fact talking about 2012 and the deep suspicions between communities which bore the brunt of the post election violence is crucial; if these people are to heal in time and accept to participate in a peaceful electoral process in 24 months time.
Problem solving begins with the courage to confront the issue. Leaders should not shy away from confronting and solving issues particularly the difficult and uncomfortable kind, or are they waiting to go campaigning in IDP camps in 2012?
The Vice President is reaching out and looking for like-minded leaders to engage Kenyans on the future, with an immediate emphasis on unity and reconciliation. This can only portend well for the nation. It is vital that beyond the reforms going on in the country the next electoral process finds Kenya reconciled and united. But these are not things that will happen out of the blue. Unity and reconciliation have to be sought and sought relentlessly. Credit should therefore go to the Vice President for starting the search for a formula and recognising he cannot seek or find these things alone.
Unity and reconciliation come first then politics comes later. The work of reconciliation is now and the elections will come much later. If you succeed at the former then the country has a much better chance at getting through the latter. It will help Kenya little for politicians to ignore the work of reconciliation and then come together for the elections in 2012.
This is particularly true for the rift Valley – the region that bore the brunt of the post election violence and a region the Vice President has actively sought to engage both the leadership and wananchi. If appropriate work and attention is dedicated to this vital region in terms of food to the nation, it is possible to make significant progress at settling long running animosities between communities.
As a nation, it not easy to discuss 2012 after the terrible ordeal we went through; IDP’s are yet to be resettled, there are wounds that have not yet healed, voids that have not yet been filled and in all truth, losses of all types that perhaps will never be recovered. The sum value of these factors is that the mere mention of the electoral process makes many Kenyans cringe or shudder and this is understandable and quite so.
It is because of these feelings among Kenyans that Mr Musyoka’s quest for a national engagement on reconciliation is vital. If we do not engage each other in political reconciliation then we shall be in no shape to meaningfully take part in an electoral process and that injures our growth and sustenance as a nation now and in the future.
The reconciliation process is not an easy one or a quick one. If we all keep quiet now and then start preparations six months to a transitional election, chances are we are likely to generate more tension and suspicions or even more violence. National leaders should be good for more than just elections and particularly now as we try and build a stronger Kenya. The charade is not fooling anyone and the silence helps nothing. Let us talk; let us address each other honestly and openly and for crying out loud let our leaders lead the way for that is their job.
This talking is not going to be painless and the resistance we have seen to the Vice Presidents efforts is proof enough but we have to plough on and the processes of reaching out, acceptance, forgiveness and eventually coming together have to continue and we may feel a bit of pain on the way but when we get there we shall never return to where we have been.
In 2008 the general consensus and rightly so is that our leaders and they alone drove us to the mess we found ourselves; now one of them is reaching out to his colleagues to reverse the situation. Let us support that, it’s good for us.
(KAPLICH BARSITO is the Vice President’s Spokesman)