New regime can tame rush for opportunities abroad

President William Ruto speaking at AIC Homabay on October 2, 2022. [Michael Mute, Standard]

An elderly lady tried to get the attention of President William Ruto on his recent visit to Nyeri County. She wanted some money to send her son to the US.

Five things emerged from that incident that were common in the previous regime. 

One is the belief that the president can easily solve your problems. Why not see the governor, Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of County Assembly (MCA)?

That belief is entrenched in our national psyche. It never ended with devolution, no wonder we fight so hard for the presidency in the polls.

That belief demonstrates the burden of the presidency and the great expectations placed on his shoulders. 

Two is the content of her message, getting airfare to take the son to the US. The message shows the level of poverty that stalks this country.

Over Sh400,000 might appear little money to some people. But how many Kenyans have ever pocketed Sh100,000 without selling a piece of land? 

Trying to get the attention of the president shows the level of desperation in the rural areas where population growth, land fragmentation and lack of investments have kept the economy stagnant.

Devolution was meant to spur growth in the rural areas, not by getting money from the State but with homegrown solutions and harnessing local potential. 

Three is the destination of the elderly lady’s son - the US. Globalisation aside, the US still remains the preferred destination for most Kenyans.

The media and Kenyans who live there have fired the mystic of the land of the brave and the land of plenty.

How many businesses and children in Kenya have American names?

The deaths of migrant workers in the Gulf and the capsizing of boats in the Mediterranean make the US more attractive. China is yet to compete with the US as a magnet for migrants. 

Four is the reaction of the leaders in that forum. They should use the occasion to demonstrate the need to turn around the economy and uplift the standard of living, with no need to immigrate to other countries where one may never live to his or her potential or are treated as a second-class citizen.  

Five, many desperate Kenyans will never dash to see the president, they suffer in silence or in prayers. How do we take care of the disadvantaged members of society?

How do we make them see possibilities? How do we jumpstart their lives? The voters wanted answers as they voted on August 9, 2022. They are waiting...