One of America’s 20th century political activists Jane Addams once said, “Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.”
When the Constitution was promulgated in 2010, Kenyans were filled with hope. The new law put in place a new form and structure of governance that offered the promise of a new era.
These hopes were further enhanced ahead of the 2013 elections as the two major coalitions – Jubilee and CORD – shared their manifestos. These manifestos were filled with plans that promised the electorate in the East African region a renaissance.
The Constitution borrowed heavily from established democracies and because of its promise, Kenyans were voted the most optimistic people in the world. Surely, nothing could go wrong! But alas, it did go wrong. Very wrong.
The two protagonists – Jubilee and CORD – now appear to have lost the plot in their plans after the elections. Jubilee appears unable to advance its agenda while CORD has been accused of being a clueless opposition bereft of ideas to better Wanjiku’s existence. They appear to be virulently opposed to anything the ruling coalition puts on the national table.
When did the rain start beating us? As Kenyan leaders on both sides of the political divide continue talking at each other rather than constructive dialogue, the country continues to veer further from the dream crafted in the trenches of the Second Liberation and polished at Bomas of Kenya.
Sadly, supporters of the two coalitions have picked up the traits of their leaders and we have become a quarrelling nation. The public will oppose or support national policies depending on which side of the politico-ethnic divide they fall.
We no longer focus on issues of importance to Kenya and Kenyans. For instance, where is the much-touted national cohesion that was supposed to have grown out of our stepping back from the 2008 abyss? We are back to an era where our tribe takes centre stage on how we view and appreciate each other. Tribal references have become commonplace in discussions in the village, in funerals, in church and in drinking dens.
We are back to clamouring for a return to mass action that can only push us back to the parody and tragi-comedy of the “Kanu error.” We have seen nothing more than national leaders demeaning each other.
We are at a situation where the Judiciary is at war with the Legislature or the Executive. The national and county governments are locked in a war of attrition despite the Constitution being clear that they are inter-dependent.
We need to go back to the drawing board since pre-election problems remain real. We still have high unemployment, rising energy bills, insecurity, terrorism and national discord. We have public debt issues we have to deal which will be exacerbated by declining tourist numbers, cattle rustling and a sleepy manufacturing sector.
Kenyan leaders and the public must get together and emancipate the country from self-destruction and put it back to the path of prosperity. Despite differences in our political persuasion, tribe, religion and socio-economic class, we all share the same aspirations, needs, wants and dreams. We all want a country that is peaceful, where we can go to work or enjoy our drink with friends without worrying about insecurity.
We must recreate this country … we owe this to future generations.
The Government must put in place measures to accelerate growth by tackling the security problems. Citizens must also play their part in ensuring that they do not harbour criminals among them.
Yes, we can salvage what we fought so hard to achieve.
(The writer is a political analyst and communications consultant)