Despite setbacks, there were things to be proud of in 2010

JUDITH MWOBOBIA |

By Kamotho Waiganjo

Kenya is never short of issues to gripe about. Every bit of good news is usually quickly drowned out by depressing events. But as 2011 commences, I want to concentrate on the positive things that have defined 2010 and leave the negative for another day.

Last year will go down in history as one of the most significant in Kenya’s 48-year history. After 40 years of wandering in the constitutional desert, Kenyans voted in one of the more progressive constitutions in the continent. For those that have been part of the treacherous journey of Kenya’s constitution making, this was nothing short of a miracle. If the referendum was being held today, many of the political leaders who supported the document would be voting ‘No’, having by now realised its prejudicial impact on their personal interests. But the overwhelming public support for reform and the unwavering goodwill of the Coalition Principals made the passing of the new Constitution a bipartisan project. If well implemented, this Constitution could over time facilitate the transformation of this country and translate the dreams of many Kenyans into reality.

In 2010, the economy rebounded to its pre-2008 levels. Few countries have come from near economic collapse to economic resurgence in such a short while. We are not fully out of the woods but credit must go to our economic policy managers, to the resilient Kenyan entrepreneurs, the vibrant Kenyan worker, the optimist investor who refused to give up on our country. You all made the rebound possible. The challenge in 2011 is to ensure that the fruits of economic growth translate to gains on the weakest members of our population, particularly the vulnerable youth.

Also, 2010 is also the year that Kenya’s athletics team re-stamped its pre-eminence in the international map. From the feats of David Rudisha, to medal hauls in Delhi and in the various marathons, Kenya’s flag flew high in the athletics world.

The challenge in 2011 is to maintain the momentum in athletics but also diversify our investment into other disciplines. It is clear that Kenya has no shortage of talent.

In 2010, our fight against corruption gained unusual momentum. With two Cabinet ministers and a couple of permanent secretaries sent packing over corruption allegations, with a couple of ministers facing a similar fate, with a much re-energised KACC, it is just possible that we may have started on a credible journey to fight this blight.

In 2011, dealing a significant blow on this dragon will require not just successful prosecutions but recovery of substantial lost assets.

In 2010, the Government finally took significant steps to deal with the impact of excess alcohol and drugs on the population. Already, there are stories of serious drug shortage in parts of the country due to the ongoing crackdown on dealers.

Some villages are reporting return to work by otherwise continually inebriated youths. In 2011, this assault on drug and alcohol abuse must be accompanied by an attack on its root causes.

Despite our many failures, these successes, inter alia, make me remain, proudly Kenyan.

—The writer is an Advocate of the High Court

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