Kenya is a nation whose people have common and diverse cultures, races, languages, lifestyle habits and other traits. They share a sense of belonging to the sovereign state of Kenya.
The concept of peace, love, liberty, and unity should hold our country together. More so, justice should be our shield and defender.
We hear often about how sovereign we are and why we should defend that sovereignty. The three pillars of the Kenyan Constitution are:
- the Sovereignty of the People,
- the Supremacy of the Constitution
- and the Concept of Public Participation.
Public participation anchors the Constitution. It translates to a bigger role for the citizens to play in safeguarding the Kenyan Constitution. They should fight against its negligence, misuse and abuse emanating from the government and/or any outside forces.
Nevertheless, three vices hold our country back since independence. They threaten the development and the sole fabric of our country. The vices are corruption, negative ethnicity, and bad leadership.
Since independence, the three vices are everywhere, including in our economic, social, religious, and political fabrics.
Corruption is present everywhere in Kenya. It is one of the vices that the past and present governments have shown little or no interest to tackle. Corrupt officials, both inside and outside the government, misappropriate public resources with impunity.
The mechanisms to address corruption in Kenya are not producing any significant or desired effect. Government bodies such as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are largely toothless bulldogs.
Most Kenyans also perpetuate the vice of corruption through bribes. They bribe their way out of many predicaments or ‘to get things done quickly’.
Many Kenyans will bribe police officers to evade arrest. They will also bribe people in authority to get favours. Some will even bribe the judicial system to evade justice.
Therefore, any effort to eliminate corruption must be both vertical and horizontal. That is, it must begin from the grassroots up to the top level and across all sectors of the country.
The goodwill to fight corruption should involve ensuring the independence of anti-corruption bodies. It should also involve tackling impunity that sees the ‘big fish’ evade justice.
Corruption and negative ethnicity are some of the leading courses of bad leadership in Kenya. Negative ethnicity leads to profiling other people negatively based on their ethnic groups. It also boils over to ethnic stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination in extremity.
Negative ethnicity has led to the acute marginalization of some ethnic communities. It has also led to the loss of lives and property in Kenya through inter-ethnic conflicts.
Propaganda, nepotism, ethnic bias, and tribalism have perpetuated negative ethnicity in Kenya. This also includes religious creeds which promote intolerance.
Kenyan politicians perpetuate negative ethnicity. They promote tribalism and whip up negative ethnic emotions for their own selfish political gains.
Only the Kenyan people themselves can lead the fight against negative ethnicity. Relying on political leaders to do it is like letting hyenas write a proposal on how to protect goats. It is an exercise in futility.
Finally, Kenyans need to tackle the periodic but perpetual choices of bad leaders. Bad leadership in Kenya often arises from negative ethnic influences.
Kenya is a country with a lot of potentials. However, bad leaders have mismanaged it to the point where the system works only for a few. The rest who are the majority continue to suffer.
We have very good policies, but they seem to favour mostly the interests of politicians, big corporations, and plutocrats. These beneficiaries of skewed interests feel they own this country and have held the rest of the population at ransom.
Accountability of the leadership to the people is lacking because the leaders are a puppet to these skewed interests. Kenyans should be wary of these ‘dark forces’. Indeed, they make the presidency the least of our problems.
Bad leadership in Kenya also weakens the mechanisms of transparency and accountability due to unwarranted interference. An example is the EACC which has had to grapple with ulterior political interference.
To contain bad leadership, some choices that Kenyans can make include:
- scrutinizing thoroughly their choices of leaders,
- strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms,
- participating in governance, and
- seeking the intervention of the law if necessary.
Therefore, if we address these three vices that hinder our development, we can progress as a country.
We need to transform our leadership from ethnic-based to one based on issues.
We also need to ensure there is goodwill to fight corruption and negative ethnicity.
These steps will act as a key agenda towards transforming Kenya into a developed state.
Kenya can only develop if its citizens are aware and utilize their common strength as one nation-state, tied by common goals.
That is one aspiration that we all must embrace for ourselves and which we must strive to achieve to transform our country.