Don’t let the odds diminish what it means to be Kenyan

As a young Kenyan, I often spend time thinking about my future, and the future of other young Kenyans like myself. In an attempt to get the big picture and put my future in the context of this big picture, I frequently travel to the past, to reminisce and learn from the many lessons therein. Interestingly, there are many lessons on nationhood that our past can teach us.

Picture the day we gained independence in 1963, and imagine the Kenyan flag swaying majestically to the winds of the changing times then, the subsequent cheer of Kenyans from all backgrounds standing together with their faces beaming with optimism as the national anthem is sang.

Picture the spirit of freedom, resilience, and hard work, our shared values that gave meaning to our struggle for independence and formed the foundation of our unity, ultimately defining who we are as Kenyans. Imagine the depth of the spirit of self-sacrifice that our forefathers gave their lives for so that I could be able to write this piece today, and you to be able to read it on your end.

Nothing is for granted

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I often compare how things have changed since then, and how they have remained the same. First, our socio-political landscape has evolved; the height of this evolution was depicted by the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga on March 9 last year, a symbol of the commitment that our leaders have made to put an end to the vicious cycle of divisive elections that have plagued us as a nation; second, we have had a fourfold increase in population, and a large bulk of this population is the youth; further to this, our country is now among leading innovation hubs in the world, and fourth in Africa. 

However, this is not to say that we are not facing challenges. Corruption continues to threaten our socio-economic development, discouraging many Kenyans who believe that hard work pays from following their dreams.

The cycle of divisive election and ethnic antagonism has often threatened to the enriching relationships we have with each other. These challenges, among many others, have dominated the Kenyan psyche, subsequently clouding us from who we are, and our optimism has slowly morphed into pessimism or indifference. 

I dare say that even though our challenges seem imminent and serious, we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by their presence or perceived magnitude. In essence, if we remember who we are, then we will know that we are not our problems, and that what binds us as Kenyans is our shared values of resilience in difficult times, the spirit of hard work, our hope and aspirations for a better future for the coming generations, and that this bond is stronger than our challenges. 

As I have often said on this column, our demographic landscape has transformed, and a huge bulk of our population comprises of young people like myself. Young Kenyans still believe in a better future, regardless of the challenges we are facing now. We believe that we have the ability to make the future better than the present. This belief manifests itself in the way we pull each other up during trying times; remain united in the face of attacks against our nationhood, and in the sense of pride with which we cheer our sportsmen and women. 

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It manifests itself in our communities, in how we share ideas, sit together at events, sharing food and drinks, form chamas for our economic development, and how we freely contribute to causes that are meaningful to us. What’s more, our entrepreneurial spirit is unmatched and failure does not seem to set us back. We support each other’s ventures. We have a strong sense of family and we often look out for each other. Admittedly, there is a lot to be proud of for being a Kenyan, more so for being a young Kenyan with our entire lives still ahead of us. There is a lot to foster our sense of pride in our nationhood, and to be patriotic.  

As I am young now, maybe one day I will be old, and I often picture myself sitting on a recliner chair at the balcony of my house with a cold drink in my hand as I watch my grandchildren playing on a sunny day. Maybe on that day, I will sit there long after, waiting for the sunset, and maybe as the sun finally sets, the radio will be playing a familiar tune... My land is Kenya, right from your highlands to the sea you’ll always stay with me here in my heart, here in my heart.”

Mr Mokamba comments on social issues

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Opposition LeaderRaila OdingaPresident UhuruKenyanPatriotism