Fellow Kenyans, My name is Patrick Maina Wambui. I am a Kenyan who was born at Pumwani Maternity Hospital. For ten years, I lived at Ngei one estate, but sadly, the same land I had known as home for those years was irregularly sold by one of our family members. When the eviction day came, my mom decided to move us to a place she could afford to take care of the 7 of us; a slum called Kambi moto, in Mathare valley. For 16 years, that is where I called home.
Life was hard in the slums. We would sometimes drown in raw sewage when it rained. As our squeezed room was leaking, the ditch that was outside our house was a reservoir for raw sewer that filled it to the brim and would find its way into our house. It was a game of hide and seek between the leaking roof and the bubbling sewer. We would sometimes stand all night and end up falling asleep while in a vertical position. Basic needs were hard to come by. However, my single mother who was a born again Christian taught us to never loose hope. Indeed, her life was sustained by hope itself. And that experience has made me who I am today. It’s the reason why I’m passionate about functional leadership.
It looks to me like we are a nation of procrastinators and that’s why I want to remind us of the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. known as the ‘urgency of now.’ The future of our children and the coming generation lies squarely on our hands. Every day provides us with an opportunity to choose between values that will ensure that our country moves forward firmly on the path to greatness or we can trade that for a place of mediocrity.
For so long the politics of division have been practiced in our country. Politicians have come and turned us against each other. It’s never been about an agenda, but selfish interests coated with false promises. We have all along been political capital in their eyes.
Negative ethnicity shouldn’t define us because that’s not who we are. We’re the generation of Dennis Oliech, one of the first players from East Africa to play in a European league. We’re in the generation of McDonald Mariga, the first Kenyan player to help win the Champions league and Victor Mugubi, the first Kenyan player to score against Barcelona. We’re privileged to be in the generation of David Rudisha, the Kenyan athlete who holds the time record in the 800 meters race in the Olympics and the first Kenyan athlete to win performance of the year in the IAAF awards and that of Jason Dunford, the first Kenyan swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. We’re the generation of Wahu Kagwi, the first Kenyan female artist to win a MAMA award and of Evans Wadonga, the first Kenyan to be nominated for the CNN heroes for an exemplary job he did for the community.
There are many examples that I could cite today, but I used the few ones to remind us that when all these people win or excel, it is not the flag of a particular tribe that is raised in celebration but the flag of Kenya. All of us feel proud of them. We’re not a tribal people, we’re friends who played together and went to the same schools. We came to each other’s rescue as neighbors when there was the need.
We’re the generation that has been tasked with the responsibility of relieving our country from the chains of negative ethnicity and bad governance. Fellow Kenyans, we must acknowledge that it is in our generation that our dedicated soldiers, defending our dignity and our borders, crossed into a neighboring country, fought the enemy and restored hope to a people that had lost hope. We marveled at news of their conquests that flooded our TV’s. They defeated the common enemy together regardless of their tribes and religious affiliations. It is in our generation that we have witnessed the greatest revival of our infrastructure since our independence almost fifty years ago. Roads have been turned into superhighways, the railway system is being revamped, the economy of our nation grew and a new constitution enacted.
Fellow Kenyans, even as we celebrate today, we must remember that it is in our generation that we have witnessed the grandest scales of corruption in our country. It is in our generation that we have experienced the highest levels of insecurity, we saw our country degenerate into a civil war and we also saw the massacre of over 40 policemen in the line of duty. It is in our generation that we saw huge cases of drug trafficking that are yet to be resolved and we witnessed a president fly into our country to look for gold which he suspected to have been smuggled in. Criminals have almost turned our country into a playing field in our generation and we have witnessed in shock as legislators awarded themselves huge send off perks that left a bitter taste in our mouths. In our generation, we must decide that it is time for change. Some of us have been fed cynicism to the point where we doubt if it can be done. Everyone is asking, can this change agenda be popular among the people? Let me remind you that sometimes what is popular is not right and what is right is not popular.
When President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation that brought freedom to the many African slaves in the USA, it wasn’t popular, in fact, it cost him his life. What about Martin Luther King Jr.? was protesting and organizing marches for freedom and civil rights popular? No, it wasn’t, it cost him his life. Ask Nelson Mandela if fighting against an apartheid regime was popular among the ruling elite and he will tell you, no, it actually landed him in prison for 27 years. Come closer and interact with the recorded history of Dedan Kimathi. He decided to go to the forest and fight against a colonial regime, it wasn’t popular and it cost him his life. Kenya is yet to figure out where the body of it hero was buried.
These are just a few examples of great people who stood for change regardless of the price they had to pay. But they laid down their lives for the sake of future generations and today, the freedom we enjoy is as a result of their sacrifices.
Fellow Kenyans, we are being called upon to secure the future of our kids and the coming generations. Will we answer to that call or will we succumb to the all familiar politics of division, corruption, and buffoonery? We can’t afford to waste this opportune time.
This is our time and when history judges us let it not be found that we sacrificed the future, dreams and aspirations of our children and the coming generations at the altar of ethnicity and regionalism.
Let it be recorded that in our time, we stood on the side of change no matter how unpopular it seemed. WE ARE THE GENERATION, WE ARE THE PEOPLE. God bless you and may God bless Kenya.