Myopic leadership killing what all Kenyans deserve
These past seven weeks, millions of sober-minded Kenyans have quietly nursed mounting apprehension over possibility of another deadly implosion akin to the 2008 post-election pogroms. God forbid! This fear is borne of a series of signs pointing to a nation not at ease with herself, yet. Our national curse of ethnic prejudice seems to have acquired a new lease of life, and is rapidly rising to scary levels, again.
Indeed, the hydra-headed serpent of tribal animosity appears to be stomping back with chilling renewed venom. To make matters worse, political rhetoric has risen to a crescendo, poisoning the air with reckless talk and sickening jingoism. The suicidal game of power politics is back big time, with protagonists striking the posture of men on a kamikaze suicide mission. The moderate, the sensible, the truly patriotic and nationalist Kenyan has been left petrified, fearful...and very annoyed.
But why? Why, like the doomed moth, do we seem to love the dance of death so? Is our land damned? Are we, as a people, condemned to a generational curse? Is our nation under some malevolent spell that requires a special sacrifice to break? Honestly, I got no answers to any of these questions that nibble at the edges of my conscious. But there is one thing I know for certainty. The biggest problem with Kenya; the single most potent factor that has brought this great country to tears and blood time and time again is leadership. Bad, poor, myopic, uninspired leadership has been our curse since we hoisted our national flag to claim sovereignty half a century ago.
Kenya has suffered the terrible fate of a leadership culture that is guilty, guilty and guilty again of all of Mahatma Gandhi’s famed “seven social sins”: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.
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Kenya has suffered leaders who preach water and gulp wine. They will wax nationalist in public, and propagate virulent tribalism in private. They will preach democracy in the open, and practice the most despicable dictatorship behind the veil. They are long on rhetoric and very short on deeds, and always mistake motion for action.
Leaders who would rather incite than inspire; because they have nothing inspirational to share, really. Leaders with a warped sense of entitlement; who behave like the country and the rest of us “ordinary” folk owe them.
Leaders whose greed and selfishness would shame even the vilest hyena; to who the only three persons who matter are “me, I and myself”. Leaders blinded by hubris and unbridled arrogance; they hear no evil, see no evil, feel no evil in all that happens with and around them.
We have been condemned to the fate of leaders who stand for nothing, and so fall for virtually anything. Especially if it can smooth their way to power...be it Mungiki, Sungusungu or even Al Shabab, everything is pretty much game! They may quote Nyerere and celebrate Mandela, but they have never learnt from the consuming humility, honesty, and dedication to duty that made these fine African sons such towering icons. They were “...men whose hearts are true and honest ...men who can stand for the truth, though the heavens fall”.
This country’s problem is no longer the Constitution or institutions of governance. We have fairly fixed that. Yeah, the national hardware is ok. It is the software, the human capital that requires urgent rebooting and reloading. As Harry Emerson Fosdick advises, “no horse ever gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined."
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It will be no easy task, transforming our rotten leadership culture and turning around the entrenched bad manners in our body politic. But I have got faith it can, must be done. For, in the words of Galileo Galilei, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use!”
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Politics leadership post-election