As I reflect on the goings-on in Parliament during the last couple of days, I am convinced of the need for some MPs to re-take their oath of office today.
Oath-taking is not a new practice. It is a regular noble occurrence found in almost all cultures, both indigenous and foreign, and can even be traced to older civilizations. Even though it has acquired some notoriety by its association with unlawful sects in Kenya today, it is still a very legitimate way of affirming one’s allegiance to certain ideals.
Growing up in our days, young men were often culturally required at some point in their lives to take some sort of oath perhaps to complement a rite of passage, or to gain membership into a certain age-group whose ideals they espoused. The process was often very elaborate, obviously to convey the gravity of the actions of the oath-takers.
Many people can attest to the fact that failing to honour the rules of the oath meant that heavy fines were imposed upon you. These fines were usually pre-determined, and if it was a new action of wrong-doing, then the elders were at liberty to determine what was deemed fair punishment.
As a result, most people made every effort to adhere to their oaths whether away or in their home ground. One could not run the risk of being caught on the wrong side of the ‘oath’.
Going back to what I said earlier, I give this analogy because I want to stress the importance of the oaths we take and to lament how some of our leaders seem incapable of living up to the same ideals to which they pledged allegiance.
As our MPs passed a proposal to review their salaries (yet again), I am left to wonder in what way their actions reflect the oath they made to the people and Republic of Kenya. I question how that particular action “upholds, preserves and protects” Kenyans in general.
I believe, and I know that I echo the sentiments of Kenyans, that there are more pressing needs. When our IDPs sleep under tattered tents and die because of exposure to the weather elements; when our teachers threaten to strike because their bargains are not upheld, how can the proposal to increase MPs salaries be deemed to be serving Kenyans?
And when they threaten to hold government business at ransom until their wants are met, how can that be considered ‘faithful and conscientious’ in discharging duties assigned to them by the- electorate-?
It seems to me, that some of them have forgotten the essence of their oath or affirmation as a Member of Parliament.
I propose, that as elders of this country, you and I, define more austere measures of punishment for failure to live up to their oaths. For example, let us mark those who want to exploit their positions at the expense of Kenyans and make sure that they are not re-elected.
In the immediate term, let us continue to send a collective message to our MPs that we are not happy with their proposal, and that it is deemed to be un-patriotic to the people and Republic of Kenya. Our leaders cannot continue to test our collective will imagining that we are too weak or busy to do anything. This time is enough to push us into action.
In the meantime, perhaps we ought to make our MPs publicly recite their oath of office at every public baraza before they address Kenyans. And when they take action or utter words that are contrary to their oaths, we can loudly tell them that “huo si ungwana!”