There is perhaps only one time in recorded history when heaven was shaken by earth – when God, so to speak, got “worried” by human activity on earth. This was when a people came together to execute an exceedingly major project – the Tower of Babel. According to Biblical records, the whole world had one language and a common speech. The people said to each other, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Well, that thought shook heaven – one because of its intention, and two, because of its strategy.
The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” In other words, heaven acknowledged that with this stroke of genius, this seemingly impossible project – and any other future projects undertaken with similar synergistic strategy – were going to be accomplished! Heaven was shaken! Thus, God declared, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So, the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
Though this story often has a negative ring to it, there is a great lesson here on the power of unity. Clearly, the key success factor in the Babel project was the social environment within which it was undertaken – a unique time when the whole world had one language and a common speech. It is interesting that “one language” and “common speech” are herein distinguished. The implication is that it is possible to have one language and yet not enjoy a common speech.
Indeed, there are many people who have the same language and yet speak at cross purpose. Just because we both speak Luhya, Kamba, or Digo does not guarantee that we will be of common speech on every issue. This is because, though language is a great unifying factor, it is however an extremely weak bond. On the other hand, speech readily transcends language barriers. When a people have a common speech, it means they have common interests, a shared vision, or a unity of purpose. In such circumstances, they make every effort to overcome all language barriers, in pursuit of their common vision.
In contrast, where there is a clash of vision and opinions are at variance, language will become a sharp weapon of war, and speech will be laced with venom. In such cases, no meaningful work can be done, and no major project can be undertaken. No wonder, when God got concerned about the humanistic purpose of the Babel project, He stepped in and simply confused the people’s language. Their speech was corrupted and they readily abandoned the project!
Whereas Kenya has over forty languages and dialects, it is amazing how these have never been a barrier to our growth and development. Whenever we have arisen in common speech to pursue a shared vision, our tribal languages have faded to the background. Unfortunately, whenever our humanistic ambitions have become the key driver of our actions, we have readily resorted to our tribal languages and clan dialects. We get scattered and no meaningful work can be done.
The current situation in the political arena calls for a change of perspective. One only imagines what would happen if our leaders worked in synergy and brought us together as one united nation. Imagine if in Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate had a common speech. What if the Jubilee brigade read from the same script? Suppose the national and county governments set out with Babel unity to build Kenya as a mighty project that reaches to the heavens, but to the glory of God! I am sure heaven would arise and come down to us with a blessing – for where there is unity, God commands a blessing.
The sad truth, however, is that if we insist on the destructive and divisive speeches that are common at rallies and funerals, then our great dreams about Vision 2030, Big Four, and Handshake are dead on arrival. Instead, Project Kenya, like the Tower of Babel, is going to come to a screeching halt as we are scattered across the land. That is why our leaders need to discover the positive side of Babel – the synergistic power of a common speech. It is our only hope.