Intellectuals should be catalysts for change in Kenya

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BY JOSEPH LISTER NYARINGO

I concur with the views expressed by Professor Makau Mutua in a section of the media last weekend which sounded objective and inspirational to many of us in the Diaspora.

Unlike many Kenyan Scholars abroad who have either decided to remain mum or developed disinterest in the remaking of our nation, Professor Makau has stayed a float on issues that bedevil our nation;  arguing objectively without bias while providing tangible solutions on the way forward for our motherland.

Personally, I’m proud of Professor Makau’s portrayal of leadership where he has persistently injected concrete and tangible ideas from the Diaspora to Kenya’s mass media.  I find his arguments especially on the proposed Constitution fair and balanced as he captures the feelings of the nation on the need for politicians to desist from pursuing egocentric ethnic interests that are detrimental to the unity and cohesiveness of the nation.

Kenya is a diverse nation and what hurts one community hurts all. That is why the impact from the post election violence of 2008 affected the entire nation despite not touching all the 42 communities in Kenya. 

Watching quietly when politicians are using the referendum campaign to set the nation on fire will be more tragic for Kenya.

We want damage control before we degenerate to the abyss of 2008. What happened at Uhuru Park on Sunday is a sign of bad things to come unless the government moves decisively to unravel the truth about those who committed the heinous crime.

In fact, there is no provision in the proposed Constitution where certain groups, social classes, individuals or communities will be targeted and deprived of certain rights and privileges. Furthermore, there is no provision that legalises homosexuality the way those in the No camp appear to argue.

Our country is in the process of healing and reconciliation. This is the time we want to hear the voices of the top cream of our society the way Professor Makau has done so that their ideas and knowledge can be harnessed to keep our country moving.

Therefore, I challenge scholars in the Diaspora especially the famous ones like Professors Ngugi Wa Thiongo, and Ali Mazrui to join Professor Makau Mutua’s league as catalysts for change. Their intellectual prowess is needed in the wonderful debate currently going on over a new Constitution that will pave the way for Kenya’s rebirth.

It’s useless to climb the academic ladder and fail to give direction on issues that matter for the nation. In fact, the quest for knowledge is to acquire skills, knowledge and expertise that will help society in times of a crisis. I cringe with disgust each time I listen and read the views of Mutahi Ngunyi one of Kenya’s intellectuals. The man sounds like someone whose intellectual prowess is either getting drained or reasons like an ordinary citizen.

While Ngunyi has a democratic right to take a position in the proposed law, his views are myopic, ambiguous and cannot shape our national destiny. He always dwells on medieval generalities with no exit strategy on national predicaments.

Those accessing the mass media should ensure that their views are objective and in tandem with the substance that will hold Kenya together.  Many of us have read the proposed law and concluded that it contains excellent provisions that will nurture equality and equity, freedom and justice as well as building a culture of fair governance systems and processes for the benefit of the entire nation.  May our intellectuals join the club?

(Joseph Lister Nyaringo is a regular blogger on this Website. He is based in New Jersey, USA

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  • jakogelo

    Yes intellectuals need to find ways on how to tackle or deal with negative ethnicity or the so called tyranny of numbers which is the bane of our political discourse I for one consider raising the threshold to 51% for the winning Presidential candidate rather than the 50%+1 as one effective way to deal with the problem and ensure that every vote counts .The winner takes it all or big man syndrome is one of the major causes of conflicts in Africa to quote Dr Koffi Annan. In order to ensure a more equitable and inclusive society it would be necessary to raise the threshold to at least 51% of the total valid votes cast.

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