NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 4 – Kenya on Wednesday launched a three day conference aimed at consolidating the gains made in national healing and reconciliation and charting a course for the country’s future.
President Mwai Kibaki opened the meeting dubbed ‘One Kenya, One Dream: The Kenya We Want’ at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre and urged the country to renew its energy on unity following the 2008 post election violence.
“Adversity teaches us enduring lessons for posterity,” he said. “We have a better understanding now that none of us can exist in isolation. Let us celebrate this and join together in building a strong and enduring Kenyan identity, which knits all of these diverse cultures and peoples into such a strong national fabric that nobody can tear apart.”
The conference will also discuss performance of the Grand Coalition government and its recommendations will be entrenched in the Vision 2030 policies.
The President once again cautioned against the clamour to overhaul all institutions that have been blamed over the post election violence, saying strengthening them would be a better option.
“Americans did not tear down their institutions in order to place a Black American in the White House. They worked within the existing institutions and used them to climb to the top. Similarly, as we reform our institutions, let us avoid the temptation to tear down those that do not seem to support us here and now,” said the Head of State.
At the same function, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said it was time Kenyans stopped the blame game over problems be-devilling the country
“When things go wrong, the temptation is always to blame someone else. In our case, we have often blamed our colonial heritage,” the PM said.
“We must no longer cling to history to justify our poverty and deficiency, our bad politics, our injustice and our failure to live up to the dreams and expectation of our nation’s founding fathers,” he added.
The Premier said Vision 2030 must be achieved but was quick to add that Kenyans could not realise a better country if they did not find a way of dealing with negative ethnicity.
The PM said that though the country’s potential was enormous national life is characterised by broken promises, missed opportunities and unfulfilled ambitions.
“We have had many false starts. We have managed to achieve very little that is fresh and new. Although our potential remains enormous, we have always played in the minor, not the premier league in matters of development,” said Mr Odinga.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Kenyans had learnt what violence can breed and were now ready to build a new Kenya.
“The country that smacks of tribalism and negative ethnicity is definitely the kind of country that Kenyans are running away from particularly after what happened after the 2007 general elections,” he said.
Retired President Daniel Moi also addressed the gathering and said there was need for the country to immediately implement policies once they are enacted.
Mr Moi urged that the recommendations of the conference be implemented.
“We must therefore be ready to listen and to carry responsibility to its logical conclusion. The deliberations here may come with suggestions that may be pleasant but if this conference is to be of any meaning then leaders must be prepared to swallow some not so palatable pills,” urged the retired President.
He also said it requires the commitment of all Kenyans to be able to achieve Vision 2030.
He said: “By that time we will have millions of people who will expect to be fed, to be educated and to be helped lets us all unitedly build the Kenya we want.”
The former Head of State said Kenya needed a thorough soul searching to ensure it achieves its development goals.
“The question that begs answers is if this republic is still on the right track 45 years of its existence what ails our country today where did we go wrong that jiggers can still torment people in the 21st century.”
Women have also joined debate on the Kenya they want. Sotik MP Dr Joyce Laboso said women want a Kenya that is all inclusive.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Dr Laboso said women want a Kenya that does not support corruption and impunity. “The Kenya we want is a Kenya where all of us can have the space and the democracy can have the space to be a member of this community,” she said.
The conference brings together 10 representatives from each district in the country.