It is that time of the year when I celebrate a few people whose societal contributions have most touched me in 2017. I pray that my informal bouquet will encourage them and others to greater achievements in 2018. Kenya has a great future and these five groups contain the gene that will make us a better country. Without any hesitation, my first bouquets goes to the SGR team. Under pressure from my flight detesting friends I agreed to try out the SGR to Mombasa this December. I last travelled on the Mombasa train when I was in university and I have dreadful memories of the journey. It was long, slow and because I could not get a seat in the exalted second class, I travelled coach, at night. Let me leave that there.
Now, the SGR is a totally different experience. I have heard all the arguments and counter arguments about its economic rationale and I must admit there are parts of me that were skeptical until the journey down south. Whatever economic arguments can be made against it, I believe it’s one of the best thing to happen in Kenya in a long time.
Professional and militaristic
Firstly, the train is fair priced. It keeps time. Four minutes stop means 4 minutes stop. The train is comfortable and internally stylish despite its face. The toilets are clean (I am fussy about such). The food and service are excellent though I am told the dining experience in economy is a bit wanting. The workers are professional and polite. The Chinese staff, while professional and militaristic, could do with extra lessons on etiquette. The atmosphere is bubbly. It’s a great melting point. Here, you meet everyone from Ministers (and occasionally the President) and your estate watchman. To MD Maina and your team, please accept my bouquet.
The next set of bouquets go to three Governors that I admire for their sense of purpose and determination to fulfill the devolution promise. Without expounding on each of their achievements, let me say that Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana, Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru and Kisumu’s Anyang’ Nyong’o have shown that it is possible for devolution to deliver on its intent. Whether its Governor Kibwana’s innovative medical scheme, or Governor Waiguru public participation programmes that eventually bore the County’s 2032 manifesto or Prof’s sober management of the difficult period when my Kisumu was risking being a deserted City, not only do they have big plans but more importantly have already commenced their actualization. Kudos your Excellencies. Since this is not barb season I will keep my thoughts on Governor Sonko and Joho to myself.
My third bouquet goes to a most unlikely source, the police on the beat. During this festive period, when all of us spent precious time with our loved ones all over the country, these Kenyans were dealing with the dregs of society. The drunkards, the thieves, the reckless drivers and the spouse beaters were the raw material that these dear ones were dealing with as we partied. I know the police have many rotten eggs that mess their name but I know that the majority are decent people trying to do their best despite measly salaries and tough working conditions. To these Kenyans goes a huge bouquet.
My fourth bouquet goes to many ordinary citizens who heeded the “shop at home” campaign and avoided the big malls in the cities as they headed to the village. I spoke to many shopkeepers in my village who shared with me the joy of getting windfalls from the city fellows the week of Christmas. Considering that the flashy and hopelessly expensive city malls get our patronage for the bulk of the year, thank you for heeding the call. Please do the same when you go to see mum during the year.
My final bouquet goes to you my readers. Without you I would not struggle every Thursday to make copy in time. My favorites remain those of you who write to me whether in support or criticism. I owe you. To all of you and the rest of Kenyans, may God fulfill your every 2018 dream.
- The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya