Kenyans must stand up against cynical attempts to undermine BBI

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past function. They championed for the Building Bridges Initiative. [File, Standard]
“Study the past if you would define the future.” This maxim, by the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, teaches us the valour that humans have attributed to the study of History since the dawn of time.

It is a truly a universal discipline, taught by men and women on every continent and in every language. History is an important tool for us so we can understand the current affairs through the lens of past experiences. And once we understand our current affairs this way, we can set out to define the future.

The idea to build a united nation coming from politicians who have thrived on division and ethnic balkanisation is a clear indication that at long last our leaders have learnt from our history.

It is an encouraging sign of improved governance that we Kenyans have now our own nine-point plan for the development of Kenya. Even though interested parties such as biased political commentators try to paint the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in a political light, framing it in the narrow perspective of the 2022 elections, the initiative, in fact, tackles a much broader range of important issues.

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Let us analyse the BBI for what it is. Shortly after the courageous handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, where the two former political adversaries buried the hatchet to work together for a more prosperous future for all of Kenya, the BBI was set up.

The BBI was guided by one principle only – to build bridges between Kenyans of all ethnicities and tribes. After another election that resulted in violence, finally, our leaders came to the conclusion that something must be done. Enough is enough! In order to become a stable and prosperous country, we just can’t afford to have riots in the streets every time we go to the urns.

Thus, a national dialogue team was created and tasked with finding ways to turn the handshake’s mission, namely peace, healing and national unity, into reality. This team, made up from the most respected Kenyan political leaders, declared to tackle the following nine points: Ethnic antagonism, Lack of a national ethos, Inclusivity, Devolution, Divisive elections, Security, Corruption, Shared prosperity, Responsibility.

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We can all agree that these points embody the core challenges that we face as a society. It takes responsible leaders to set their personal differences aside and start putting the interest of the country first. It even fills one with the hope that for once, politicking is taking the back seat.

This is precisely why we can’t have this initiative become a punching bag in the gruesome daily fight for a certain political edge. Or an arrow in one’s 2022 bow. So far, the BBI has worked quietly and has listened to many Kenyans from all over the country for their input and ideas. Suddenly, because some politicians are fearful that they might lose out in the next elections (a main tenant of democracy, nonetheless!), the Building Bridges Initiative became a partisan issue. Party hacks are trying to divide the country again in two big parts, making sure that the “losing side” will feel deprived.

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We have to stand up against these cynical attempts and support our leaders who are trying to heal our nation and truly unite Kenya beyond tribalism of yester yore. Let us all take a lesson from history. Let us take the BBI and turn it into our very own Nine-Point Plan, which shall bring upon us a “just and secure peace”, and prosperity for generations to come!

This is the vision of President Kenyatta, and more and more Kenyans are joining him in this vision. If even Raila Odinga could overcome his previous animosity towards Uhuru and join him for the future of our nation, what is holding you back?

Mr Cherambos comments on topical issues.

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