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Those with something to hide pose real threat to building bridges

By Alexander Chagema | Published Thu, August 2nd 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 1st 2018 at 20:22 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and NASA leader Raila Odinga (R) after March post-poll talk. [Photo: File]

I have been called an ODM sycophant; Baba’s mouthpiece and many such unflattering endearments a number of times. Of course, such come with the job and it has never ceased to amuse me.

In the Kenyan polity, it is fait accompli that if you accuse Jubilee of misdemeanour, you are an opposition sympathizer even where that is not true. Conversely, anyone expressing anti-opposition sentiments is labelled a Jubilee sympathizer.

But love him or hate him; his shortcomings notwithstanding, Raila Odinga has contributed a lot to the democratic space we now savour. Somehow, listening to a few individuals who were too young to remember when Raila was bearing the brunt of the establishment in the 1980’s disparage him, irks.

I am enamoured of the morning television talk shows that, admittedly, I find quite informative; except when some interviewees go off tangent to exhibit their non-factual, subjective reasoning.

Hate and love are unavoidable natural phenomenon over which the only control we have is moderation. For leaders particularly, it is anathema to display negative emotions and sentiments that demean other leaders in public; the exception being election time when taking advantage of the chinks in an opponent’s armour to gain political mileage is bearable.

But as has so often been said, campaigns are behind us now, and we must “build the nation”. I guess the Building Bridges Initiative is a product of that reality. The element of personal gratification in the buildup to the initiative cannot be discounted, but Kenyans stand to benefit more if the concept is facilitated to run seamlessly.

Known loudmouths

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To have disparaged Raila on national television by stating that availing him ‘toilets’, ‘bodyguards’ and the occasional national ‘errand’ here and there would appease him was insensitive of Nominated Member of Parliament David Sankok. From where I sit, Sankok is not even fit to wash Raila’s feet.

For such injudicious remarks on distinguished leaders do little, if anything at all, to aid national healing; the wounds of which were inflicted by unschooled utterances, tribalism, lack of equity, political grandstanding and stereotyping of whole communities.

One would have thought that with the known loudmouths whose venom we have become accustomed to silent, tranquility will prevail. But no, others have taken their place.

Throw in the Mau evictions and the deaths of the 10 rhinos translocated to the Tsavo East National Park for good measure and you despair at the quality of leadership this country looks to for direction.

Samson Cherargei, a political novice has the audacity to throw challenges at the Head of State and leader of the party that sponsored him to the Senate. Senate Majority Lader Kipchumba Murkomen who in his second term should know better, hasn’t distinguished himself.

Nature conservation is not optional; there is ample warning and enough damage to prove that environmental conservation is an urgent imperative.

To destroy

Dry riverbeds in the wild have been blamed for the frequent animal –human conflict. Receding natural habitats have forced wild animals into farms where they destroy crop, yet this is not apparent to those opposed to the Mau Forest evictions.

I only agree with them as far as the inhumane manner of eviction is concerned. Torching people’s houses, forcing them to sleep in the cold is insensitive enough. To destroy schools while claiming to fight illiteracy is foolish.

From rantings over the Mau, one runs into the impudence of Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala; an individual appointed by the president, not to serve and worship the him, but to serve Kenyans.

Balala must be made to understand he is accountable to Kenyans and if they feel he is incompetent or has failed in discharging his responsibility, he shouldn’t go ballistic and insult them.

It is probably the type of arrogance the minister exhibited that is driving our tourism industry to its knees. One can only imagine the treatment junior officers in Balala’s ministry get in private. If that is his mood, would he accept different ideas? Frankly speaking, his bullying attitude does not create room for consultation.

Without the unequivocal support of those charged with wildlife protection, poaching will not be contained. Balala’s outbursts played into claims by some conservationists that the 10 rhinos said to have died of salt poisoning might indeed not be dead; or that their deaths were planned.

There are those of the view that to have paraded rhino horns on television when the public has no wherewithal of establishing whether they belonged to the said dead rhinos was a defensive mechanism; or perhaps even a dead giveaway of guilt.

Despondency could be responsible for the sloppiness of those involved in the translocation of the rhinos that were unerringly led to their untimely deaths.

But is it safe to assume that the Wildlife ministry runs on Balala’s edicts?

Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The [email protected]


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