On the 15th of October 2017 several leaders from across the ethnic spectrum of Kenya came together out of grave concern for the state of the nation. The group was dubbed by the media ‘Caucus of Mt. Kenya Leaders Friendly to Uhuru Kenyatta’. This, despite their being leaders from many counties outside Mt. Kenya, but you can understand why the slant.
We issued a statement that was born of concern for the nation, our President and the leadership of the country in general. Our position was one of rising above the polarity of partisan political competition and putting the nation first. Our advice and request was directed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA’s Raila Odinga. The message was simple; the country needs to see you talk to one another and better still, a show of unity by shaking hands.
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Even before we issued the statement, the mere congregation of these leaders and the anticipation of the statement in the charged political atmosphere sent jitters throughout the body politic. So much so that some members of our group were pressured to eject. Needless to say, there was enormous pressure on the rest to abort the presser without the contents of our statement even being known nor made a public.
But there’s a reason why it is called leadership and there is a reason why leadership is not for the faint hearted. The caucus though numerically depleted, was morally fortified and soldiered on. We issued the presser and our statement was carried in all the major media.
The aftermath, although fully anticipated and prepared for, was less glamorous. Abuse was hurled, names were called, effigies were burnt, mock funerals held and dirges were sung. Among the more colourful names we were called was “NASA sympathisers”, and “sell-outs” but to name a few. But to survive in politics you need to have the hide of a rhinoceros and be as deaf as a doornail. Especially when the motivation is greater than self. In this case, our individual positions and political careers would amount to naught in the absence of a country.
Fast forward Friday March 9, 2018. A second election, resistance movement, two swearings-in, Cabinet appointments and almost six months later and our logic would stand to be validated and our position vindicated. The truth had come full circle, our position gained full recognition. A house divided against itself cannot stand. “Leadership is an ACTION not a position” said Donald McGannon.
The President breathed life and meaning into his leadership and into the words of Seth Godin - “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” The President’s choice of a path of peace and unity has taken many people aback. Isn’t it obvious that the son of Jomo, the avowed democrat and the youngest leader in our country’s history would wish to leave an unmatched legacy in modern Africa?
What is remarkable is the chorus of accolades at the rapprochement by the self-same “haters” and stone-throwers who burnt our effigies and wrote our political obituaries...Never mind. To quote Martin Luther King Jr: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
To the caucus of leaders who stuck their collective political necks out for the sake of our beloved motherland and future generations at the expense of their political careers, if nobody else says it, at least let me do so here. I salute you. According to Dr King; You measure well my brothers and sisters. Thank you for being the fearless and visionary leaders Kenya needs. An elder sees further sitting on a stool than a small boy on top of a tree. Keep being fearless.
As for the stone-throwers and binary politicians, watching them contort after the leaders meeting on Friday, I’m reminded of an old African saying: “When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth”.
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All that is left now is to join hands and retrace our steps. Let’s identify those things that unite us rather than those divide us. Let us collectively seek solutions to elevate the greatness that has laid dormant within us for so long. Let us build a new and exciting country we would be proud to bequeth our children whatever our background, race or religion. Kenya IS One. Africa WILL Rise.
Mr Gethenji served as Tetu MP in the 11th Parliament where he served as chairman of the National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations Committee.