It’s time to shun cynics and steer development

Progress has never been easy; not for a man, not for a society. Our country is on a recovery path, but as former US President Barack Obama said, you have to keep walking.

Doubtless, we are on the road of recovery from tribalism and corruption. Colonialism is no longer a lived experience for most Kenyans, and our youth have not lived the yoke of dictatorship or one-party rule. Even the achievements of time are themselves milestones on the road to freedom.

Achievements start small, and grow as we build momentum. Today’s milestones look like pillars compared to those of years ago - and the future promises us skyscrapers. The Uhuru-Raila handshake was a unique moment in our history, the first time that a Kenyan political manoeuver has sought to unite people across a divide, rather than secure power for power’s sake. It is a beautiful milestone - but we need to keep walking. 

Yet Kenya is still under the sway of divisive ethnic and tribal ways from the past. Powerful countries like Nigeria will pay testament to how it has caused them problems time and again. We may think we have turned a corner, but the divisive pull of tribe, race or ethnicity is never far away. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels.

The same goes for the fight against corruption. Corrupt MPs and energy officials are now having to look over their shoulders, and it is clear that the rules of the game are changing. 

Corruption cases involving more than Sh73 billion are ongoing at various courts across the country, those sums will soon be added to the billions already recovered. Investigations move more smoothly thanks to the reconstituting of the critical offices of the Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Director of Public Prosecutions, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Lifestyle audit, vetting of procurement officers, publication of all government tenders and contracts, and more; these things do not appear overnight, and their best results come with time.

Indeed, almost two thirds of corruption investigations now go to prosecution, and Kenya is receiving deserved praise from world leaders and experts for its progress. They are paying attention because the tentacles of graft have long reached into their own countries. 

Today we are working with American and European experts, specifically looking for exchanges to sterling. The technology, cooperation and even the desire itself to defeat international fraud was not previously with us, but it is now.

American author Edward Everett Hale said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” 

People will always be cynical about the fight against corruption, partly because parading its defeat it is almost like trying to prove a negative. The time is not ripe for sitting around, it is the time to work together. We cannot work effectively with cynicism leading us astray, especially when the cynicism is illogical.

Long-term anti-corruption investments in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal are also steadily paying off, according to Transparency International. Kenya does not need to be far behind - if it can work for our neighbours, it will surely work here with time, wise leadership and public support.

If we are wasting our time trying to be like the West, why is the West wasting its time on us? A cynic would have you believe that global experts come to kick the dust in Nairobi, or simply that the man on the street knows more than the experts in how to do their job.

Let us stop listening to cynicism, because our current successes are going a long way to build confidence among global investors if we are not ready to walk this walk, and believe in our future, nobody else will.

President Uhuru Kenyatta certainly believes. As a man who has everything to gain from a strong legacy in fighting both tribalism and corruption, even cynics should sit up when he calls for support. 

The President is right in his call to shun politics of 2022. Today we must continue to focus on mending decades of divide and conquer politics, and a tradition of corruption that will take focus and sweat to uproot, but only if we keep walking.

- The writer is a banker