Clamour for constitutional change must be inspired by the need for greater inclusivity

All over the world, societies are acknowledging the increasing need of nurturing inclusive communities.

For instance, for established multinational corporations to increase their market share and penetrate new markets, their executives have had to go back to the drawing board and customise their products, services and overall marketing message to break cultural barriers and ensure inclusion of previously left out social groups.

Curriculum developers too, now have no option but to commit to ensuring that education is inclusive, and that it caters for everyone, regardless of innate skills, predispositions or background.

Governments, in a bid to solve local and national issues, have to accommodate dissenting views from different social groups, and are compelled to appreciate the importance of creating inclusive institutions. On a grander scale, the global issues that we are facing, some of which threaten our very existence as a species, leave us no option but to include everyone in seeking solutions to them.

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As a result, we have to cooperate, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity and our socio-economic identity, in seeking answers to the big questions. For these reasons, there is no better time to realise our oneness - we need to break the barriers that limit our ability to solve our problems as a society. Inclusivity therefore, is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

In Kenya, we have come to the realisation that our political system depicts an 'all or nothing' reality, where the winner of political competition takes home all the spoils, and the loser leaves hungry and disenfranchised.

This perception

Because of this, we have had to endure highly divisive political campaigns that threaten our oneness as a people, and political competitors have often resorted to stoking ethnic tension as a tactic because the stakes are usually very high for them.

More often than not, there has been no incentive for the winner of political competition to reach out to his worthy opponents, further exacerbating the perception of division and dissatisfaction. This perception has particularly affected the youth of our nation, who have often felt defenseless, grossly underrepresented in the political scene and with no voice to tell their story to the nation and the rest of the world.

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However, this is not to say that our future is all gloom. There have been calls to cure the shortcomings of our political system. These calls have culminated in a clamor for constitutional change to address the said shortcomings, and to pave way for the realisation of the inclusive society we aspire to be.

While constitutional change in itself is a welcome idea, any attempt at it that does not attempt to achieve greater inclusivity of our people beats the very purpose of the said change. For this reason, an audit and eventual change of the Constitution should be a process, and the people should own this process.

Demographic reality

Ultimately, this process should begin at the grassroots level all over the country, with the views of the people being carefully considered and prioritized. Further to this, perhaps we should take cognizance of our demographic reality, which has often revealed to us that the youth form a large bulk of our population, and hence should be allowed to spearhead the process of constitutional change.

The Government should, therefore, commit to rigorous civic education to aid in giving insight into the process, but all the while knowing that the outcome of the process should reflect the aspirations of the people regardless of age, tribe, and gender, and not of any political group with vested interests to an outcome.

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Perhaps we need to ponder with the options that we have at hand; what is the most viable system of governance that will cure the deficiencies of the one we currently have?

What's more, we cannot overstate the importance of having an effective opposition to keep the government in check, an opposition that is effectively included in active political processes, perhaps with a state office, responsibilities and a clearly defined mandate.

All social groups should be represented up to the highest level of the political system, and perhaps it is up to the people to decide the best way of achieving this representation through public participation.

After all is said and done, the intended outcome is a boost to our democracy, and to offer the chance to transcend the barriers that have held us from being the inclusive society we have the potential to become. It is an opportunity to allow the people, particularly the youth, to own their power and be in control of their destiny. It seems true what they say that 'if you don't have a plan for inclusivity, your plan is to be exclusive'.

Mr Mokamba comments on social issues

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Curriculum developersConstitution