We want a leader who makes Kenya ambitious

A child waving Kenyan flag during the 56 Madaraka Day Celebration at Narok Stadium. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

American novelist Mark Twain once wrote: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Our president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has ambition for our nation. He is not quiet or submissive about it, but shouts about it from the rooftops at every opportunity. While US President Donald Trump talks about making America great again, he is talking about changing the existing state of affairs for the better. Obviously, the jury is still out there whether he will be remembered as being successful or not.

However, the point is that he's an obviously ambitious person and businessman who wants the country he leads to reflect that. In Kenya, we have a less controversial leader, but one who isn’t just using slogans to better our nation for the welfare of its people.

He wants our nation and its people to succeed and is not impressed with the status quo. Kenyans are renowned for being a hard-working people who are not satisfied with anything mediocre, and rightly so.

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This means that we need to be served and led by someone who meets our ambitions, and Uhuru is arguably the first president who strives and is motivated to meet our determination to succeed and achieve. However, there are some politicians who want to saddle us with their apathy and aversion for progress. Recently, an MP from Gatundu South said Uhuru was too ambitious.

The country

I know most Kenyans do not agree with this depressing assessment and are not persuaded by politicians who try and belittle an agenda that is the most transformative in the history of our republic. Perhaps these politicians want Kenya to regress and miss the ‘good old days’ when the corrupt could get away freely with their graft, when only a portion of the country had access to healthcare, electricity, running water and the internet.

Possibly, they miss the old train systems that would take hours to chug along relatively short distances. Do they wish to hark back to a time when almost every Kenyan not from the group of a few at the top would never even be able to dream about owning a home?

Uhuru has given us so many things, but above all he has given us hope. Hope that tomorrow Kenya will be a little better than it was today and progressing far more than yesterday.

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Of course, there are and will be bumps in the road. However, an ambitious person does not see these as obstructions to dampen their ardor, but as challenges to surpass and lessons to be learned.

Lifestyle audit

It is clear that Uhuru is constantly learning on the job, even six years after first being elected. On the war of corruption, he first learned that corruption wasn’t just endemic to higher levels but also at the civil service level, so he made the entire civil service undertake a lifestyle audit. When some in the justice system were giving low bail conditions for suspected high-level agents of corruption, he fired a slew of judges.

Earlier on Uhuru was seeking foreign loans to fund many of the infrastructure projects he has earmarked for our country to update a terminal transportation system. Now, he is moving to Public–Private Partnerships (PPP), which not only do not add to the national debt, the cost is removed from the tight budget.

If something falls through, he doesn’t scratch it from the lexicon, he finds another way to make it succeed. The ambitious person continues to find new goals to strive for.

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In 2012, the first ever comprehensive study on ambition was conducted by Judge and Kammeyer-Mueller, which they derived from 60 years of data from the Terman life-cycle study, found that ambitious people do achieve higher levels of success.

Not just for themselves, but for those around them. Uhuru’s ambition is just what Kenya needs at this critical juncture. We could have elected someone who lacks ambition and is happy trying to put out fires, not really moving the country forward. Perhaps someone risk-averse that lets the nation stagnate.

For the first time, Kenya has a leader with true ambition for our country and its people and it is exciting to hear what Uhuru has planned. Will he achieve everything? Maybe, and maybe not. However, I would much rather have someone who thinks big, acts big and wants to make Kenya great again.

Mr Temba is a communication consultant

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LeadersKenyaUhuru KenyattaRaila OdingaWilliam Ruto