50 years on, what shall we be celebrating?


There were major political campaign slogans and strategies laid by the nationalist political movement, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) against the British Colonisers and their opposition allies’ propaganda.

“Hakuna Kazi Hapa” There is no job here read one such propaganda placed on office and industry doors meant to scare job seekers who were part of the campaign against colonialism. “Uhuru na Kazi” Freedom with employment was an appropriate nationalists counter propaganda that also declared poverty, ignorance and disease and number one national enemies.

On account of these popular pledges, KANU trounced opponents who were seen as colonial collaborators in the 1963 General Election campaigns. In the 50 years of independence, none of these promises were ever fulfilled by the successive governments including that of the retired President Mwai Kibaki who belongs to the old school of political intrigues and manipulations.

KANU was elected consecutively for eight terms of five years each under the late President Jomo Kenyatta and his retired successor, Daniel arap Moi whose reigns were shaky and had to adopt tactics to tame internal rebellion, dissent and forestall agitation for the fulfilment of promises to the electorate.

With the support of western powers, nationalist popular movements in Africa in general and Kenya in particular were crushed underneath for allegedly preaching Marxist ideologies in newly independent nations. True nationalists paid a price with their lives and freedoms. Bildad Kaggia, Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, Achieng Oneko amongst others were earlier casualties of a crackdown on dissent.

That was the climax of reverses of popular ideas articulated in the Kanu manifesto. Consequently the country stagnated as it received massive resources to fight the spread of Communism and its surrogates. At the expense of any other development in the country.

The visible scars of neglect are indelible in the memory of many Kenyans who rose to challenge authority on service delivery. Tales of inadequate budgetary allocations and return of the same to the treasury for diversion to politically correct regions is the norm rather the exception. For instance, the paltry Sh210 billion budgetary allocation to line ministries in the 47 counties is one plot by the Executive to kill the county governments.

For purposes of take off, basic necessities like electricity supply, clean water, highways and rail networks are a priority now than ever before and the government of the day cannot explain why far flung parts of this country were denied those facilities. These requirements are just mere pipe dreams and least of all a priority of the successive governments that ignored chunks of the country in the quest to manipulate, control and dominate the vulnerable.

A half century of independence, colonial relics and retrogressive forces have emerged to back status-quo mongers. Three years after the promulgation of the new Constitution, the Executive, without reason, refused to allocate funds for the infrastructure developments in the newly created units. And now, behind the scenes, the Executive and Parliament are hell bent on killing the Senate on account that it is a burden on the exchequer.

It is in view of such intrigues and arm twisting that Kenyans in their thousands said that enough is enough and proposed changes in the governance structure that included checks on the legislature in a multi-party set up.

Like in the yesteryears, Parliament has never been comfortable with checks and balances. It is not a secret that the National Assembly is behind the battle to drag Kenya back to the days of ‘baba na mama.’

Behind the backs of delegates to the National Constitutional Conference, Parliament re-opened the Bomas Draft and scrapped the Senate, Regional Government structures and the National Salaries Review Commission. The doctored draft was defeated in a costly referendum. Partners in the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) were purged from the Cabinet for leading opposition to the document.

Senate and Regional Government structures in the country’s independence constitution were scrapped with the help of Parliament that allowed itself to be used as a rubber stamp of Executive desires.

Kenya is set to celebrate 50 years of self internal rule but the big question that was a taboo and remains thus is, have any of the promises made been fulfilled or were they mere political rhetoric? The latter seems to be the case as we can rightly point out that it is business as usual under the new constitution.

(The author is the Senator for Homa Bay. Email:honkajwang1@yahoo.com)

9 Replies to “50 years on, what shall we be celebrating?”

  1. This is a beautiful piece by the Honorable Senator. The only thing it lacks is an apology from him as a prelude to the insightful piece. See, I struggle with how the Senator distances himself from the quagmire that we are in now ,if any as the Senator insinuates. Mr Kajwang has been a member of parliament for such a long time, more than a decade I suppose. I recon that he has even become a Minister at some point. Now what has he done that puts him on such a high pedestal to question our progress as a nation? I am not in any way suggesting that Mr. Kajwang’s freedom of speech should be restrained. No, that is far from it. I just think that as a contributor to the current circumstance we are in he should begin with, say… an apology?
    This is just my opinion. But a masterful, true and insightful piece.

    1. Hon Kajwang has been a prominent member of parliament for more than two terms and minister in grand coalition government. He should not deny that Kenya has made great strides in all spheres of development since independence. As a senator in the new era and dispensation he should ensure that he plays a constructive role in Parliament and by actively defending the devolved system of government especially now that the the provincial administration whom he loathed too much is now counterbalanced by county governments. He should assist his County and ensure a permanent solution on the evil weed on Lake Nyanza is cleared especially in Homabay area so that we can continue enjoying the fish from there,

      1. He couldn’t even get IDs for youth in Nyanza and he can ask what we have to celebrate, yet he is part of the problem…BURE KABISA!!

  2. Kenya has alot to celebrate on her 50th anniversary. However, those who all along created mischievious problems on our way to progress, have always played the saints. Thus, Hon. Otieno Kajwang, a lawyer, former MP, former immigration minister and now senator, wants us to incitingly believe the country hasnt made any huge strides in the last 49 years! Perhaps, the senator needs to be reminded that the same holier than thou politicians like himself, have been the prime reason for our purported stagnation. They have made lies our national motto. And very early on, skillfully divided the country in two distinct groups. One group being the ever unreasonably vilified rulers. The other was the wickedly irritating and divisionary non-rulers. This later group had nothing to offer but bitter criticism laced with tribal hatred. They even cooked up their achievements to mislead gullible public. In real sense, they have never acted in good faith. They only helped the ruling elite move their eyes off the ball! Instead of the ruling elite pursuing that was beneficial to the people, they started fighting for themselves. They went on wealth amassing crazy at the expense of the country. Indeed, the current push by MPs to have previous salaries reinsstated, has roots from that greed inspired by wicked noises from likes of Otieno Kajwang! Of course, when tomorrow is not assured and fear of losing power is extremely pervasive, the need to amass wealth today becomes unchallengeable!

    Of course, Kenya wont have done any better if lawyers stole their clients’ money. It couldnt have achieved anything if the ministers for immigration seemingly engaged in wanton corruption. That had no place for national territorial integrity. The country wouldnt have made any progress at all, if ministers for immigration had no qualms in allowing dangerous refugees in our land. We wont have had any shred of progress when such ministers willfully created situations that forced the country to go to war. Wars surely brought on us by same same ministers who vigorously campaigned to have such dangerous refugees like al-shaababs in our midst! Ministers who would give citizenship to any foreigner who had money, couldnt have allowed us to take off. Indeed ministers who cared for nothing but their little tribal kings, wont have allowed us to get anywhere at all! Thus, likes of Otieno Kajwang are the problems not the victims as they have always maintained.

  3. Vacillators of Hon. Kajwang’s stature will never be important in human history. Cynicism is a sterile commodity and overdwelling on it as such can always be degenarative. Freedom of expression galore but the senator should have addressed the developments he led and accomplished in Mbita intensively. What is this conspicuous change can this senator proclaim after serving for so long in the same system as a minister? Did he leave the ministry better or worse than he found it. Kenyans today generally see a half-full glass however much inciting one can be.

  4. Instead of Celebrating, there should be a Reflection? What are we celebrating? 1963 Kenya was at par with Singapore and Malaysia. FFWD 50 yrs later, there clearly were some slackers as statistics indicate. What went wrong? Individuals can hide under the veil of the past but the Truth will always come to light. Present and future Generations will uncover the exploitation, lies and moral corruption through the decades. It’s only a matter of time.

    You can hide today but not tommorow. Watch out for Generation Z, the iGeneration for they will not give a damn about the rules and systems that have worked for the past 50 yrs or the past 100 yrs. This Generation will question everything to the core and change the Old order of things as we know it.I presume Generation Y and Z are already in the Great Shift. What has worked for the past 50 yrs, for the past 100yrs and probably for the past 1000 yrs will not work for the next 50 yrs, or the next 100yrs. What really amazes me is that things are changing faster than we anticipate them.

    If you are below 50 consider yourself a pioneer of the 21st century.A Pioneer of the New Millenium. Remember what has worked in the past 50 yrs will NOT work in the next 50 yrs. We are in a new Millenium for Sakes! Things have to change and naturally they will. Go with the River stream not against the current and you will be fine.

  5. Holly useless man from United NyanzaBAy, forget all the trush you talk of and just explain why you sold cow intestines in Athi River 15 years ago claiming the government gave you a contract. Yes Mr clean. Kenya ina wenyewe and Man Moi said about and your step uncle Man Late ayatolla Adonijah jaramogi said Man Mol has along neck like girraffe.All has come and the rest is history. Uhuru tawala watuhula huu na vigae

  6. Taking stock of his performance and that of other Luo Nyanza politicians would be a good way to deducing an answer to this question, which is that Kenya’s problems stem from poor political leadership, exemplified by the likes of Kajwang- it is time for Nyanza to wake up and show such Raila coathangers the door

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Hit enter to search or ESC to close