By Donald B Kipkorir
This year has been momentous in historical terms. Queen Elizabeth II marked her Diamond Jubilee with expected pomp and pageantry. Barack Obama, the 44th President of the US and her first black President was re-elected for a second term.
Queen Elizabeth II was holidaying in Kenya in their royal residence, Sagana Lodge, Kiganjo, when her father, King George VI died on February 6, 1952. They say, she went up Treetops Hotel a Princess and came down a Queen. As for Obama, he is the son of Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas State, and Barack Obama Snr of Kogelo, Siaya County.
Besides the US and Britain, there is no other country on earth that has similar historical and bloodline connections to the Queen and the President respectively that Kenya has. Britain gifted us independence on December 12, 1963. Don’t be fooled by “false history” that we fought for independence.
Mau Mau should pursue compensation from Britain for violation of their cultural rights but not for fighting for our independence. But that is for another day. Today, we need to make a case as to why Kenya ought to be a commonwealth of either the US or Britain.
In promulgating our new Constitution on August 10, 2010, we achieved a rare political revolution without shedding blood. Our Constitution gives us a written road map on how to govern ourselves, enjoy personal rights and spend public resources.
Sadly, the Constitution does not tell us how to make Kenya rich. As long as we still wallow in abject poverty, our Constitution is and shall remain a beautiful letter of intent. Beautiful prose with no substance. We have many other road maps including Vision 2030 to make us rich, but shall we?
Without sounding unpatriotic, I daresay that Kenya has a long walk to take before becoming rich. Just a reminder.
Kenya is turning 50 next year and has nothing to show for middle age. Kenya occupies over 580,367 sq km of land with a population of over 41 million and counting.
Yet, 50 years after independence, we still boast of 11,000km of badly built tarmac road, 2,000 kilometres of railway line and 15 third-rate airports. And a GDP of $34 billion and per capita of $1,800 which ranks us at number 196 in the world!
The official launch of Thika Superhighway last Friday, should not lull us to sleep. We have spent Sh31 billion to built 50km of road and we get irrationally exuberant about it. In economic terms, 50 kilometres of road in a landmass of Kenya is zilch.
As an armchair economist, no matter the statistics proffered by the Government, I cannot understand how 50 kilometres of road can impact our national economy in any way. It may assist Thika Town only, and at most Kiambu County. But to say, it will assist the whole country is an insult.
But how do we get out of our sea of poverty and droplets of wealth? There is only one way if this generation has to experience wealth.
Kenya has to affiliate itself as a commonwealth country of either the United Kingdom or United States of America.
By being a commonwealth country to either, we remain self-governing with our own laws but subordinate our ultimate deference to either Washington or London.
USA is the world’s pre-eminent power in all aspects. With a population of 300m people, its GDP is $15 trillion and its annual budget is now £4 trillion.
USA has over 15,000 airports, 225,000km of railway lines and 4,380,000 km of first class tarmac road. In addition to its 50 States, it has several dependent territories and two commonwealth states of Puerto Rico and Northern Marianas.
The United Kingdom (UK) with a population of only 64 million people and shrinking, and an area of 243,610 square kilometre is the world’s seventh biggest economy with GDP of $3 trillion and an annual budget of over £683 billion.
UK has over 470 airports, 16,500km of railway lines and 400,000km of first class tarmac roads. Besides British Isles, UK has crown dependencies and overseas territories.
Also, it belongs to same commonwealth realm with Canada, Australia and New Zealand under the constitutional monarch of Queen Elizabeth II.
The statistics of both the US and the UK show that our economy is puny. Our annual budget of about £12 billion is not even sufficient to run the Greater City of London. Affiliating ourselves to either country, we will have nothing to lose but our poverty. There is no pride in poverty.
Being a commonwealth allows all Kenyans near citizen-status and equal rights enjoyed by the citizens of either US or UK except running for political offices there.
At times, or even most times, ideas when ahead of their time, look loony. But it takes a leap of faith and courage for one to admit inadequacy and seek the help of a bigger brother.
The infrastructural developments we are engaging in are at most ornamental. They will never improve the living standards of 95 per cent of Kenya.
There is no more opportune time for Kenya to affiliate than now. After all, Queen Elizabeth became queen when a Princess in Kenya, and Obama is a direct son of Kenya.
The sooner we sing either, “And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” or “God save our gracious Queen! Long live the Queen,” the better.
The author is an Advocate of the High Court