We need integration today, not after 2012

After meeting the Principals and various stakeholders, Kofi Annan issued a statement saying that AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities had noted clear signs that Kenya is making progress in the reform Agenda.
In the same breath however, they were quick to point out that the progress made can be easily reversed by among other things ‘ethnic divisions and lack of cohesion within the Government and across Kenyan Society’.

So it was an interesting twist of fate, when a Kenyan was arrested  on Tuesday holding a huge cache of weapons with no clear indication of where they were headed or for whom they were intended.  This discovery was not just fate; it was divine revelation to Kenya that things are not as they seem. 

There have been intelligence reports that citizens have been stocking up arms for their own personal protection come 2012.  Now, that claim is irrefutable even if the security apparatus want to convince us that these weapons were destined for another country.   Regardless of the whys, the whos, and the wheres, one thing is clear; Kenyans have easier access to weapons now more than ever before. 

I lay this foundation because I believe that we need to hasten cohesion among Kenyans before we can proceed to any polls.  Our country seems as if it is caught in a time warp.  We know where we’ve been and still feel the effects of the post election violence today, but we don’t seem to be moving forward.  We cannot afford to falter on this matter anymore.

I was fortunate to host some of the recently appointed Commissioners of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in my office. The genesis of the Commission arose from the need to establish mechanisms of reconciling Kenya post the 2008 crisis.  The Commission was established pursuant to the National Cohesion and Integration Act published in December 2008.

From our meeting, it became very clear that the Commission has an enormous task before them.  Their primary role is to facilitate cohesion and promote harmony and peaceful co-existence between different ethnic and racial communities in Kenya. 

How do they do that when our very vocal politicians continue to focus on creating alliances based on tribal affiliations all aimed at clinching the Presidency in 2012?  How do they do that when the constitution debate largely hinges on religious differences, land boundaries that divide rather than unite, and executive powers aimed at protecting one’s turf?  How do they do that when it is clear that Kenyans are ready to take up arms without hesitation?

I fear that below the cool facade, the negative rhetoric may cause a similar outburst in 2012 as happened in 2008.
Knowing this, we must underscore the importance of the Commission and the critical role they play in averting another crisis.  The burden is upon their shoulders to unite us so that we can see each other as Kenyans first before anything else. 

We need to look upon our neighbours and see how they mirror us at our own human level instead of looking at them as being different.  They have the similar desires to be loved, to have shelter and security, and to advance their lives for the sake of their children.  At the core, we are neither tribes nor races, just a people living in Kenya.

I will be closely watching the Commission and holding them accountable for their accomplishments or lack thereof.  I have told them as much.  For to whom much is endowed, much is also expected. 

In return, I will urge Kenyans to internalise their message.  Let us focus on our similarities instead of our differences with a view to promoting good relations with our neighbours. 
I will play my own small role to support their efforts because I believe in this cause.  I know that it can make the difference between whether Kenya slides backwards into anarchy or whether we move forward to claim our greatness. 

Stand with me and tell the Commissioners that we have hope they can deliver.

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