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Dialogue is the only way to recapture the Kenyan dream

By David Oginde | December 10th 2017

That God has granted to us a great nation cannot be disputed. The natural beauty, social stability, and economic prosperity of this nation make it the envy of many. Many are those who wish they were Kenyans. Indeed, there are several Westerners – whose nations we often long to live in – who have come here for leisure or business, but have turned Kenya into their home. Yet, some of us appear determined to destroy this nation through our negative attitudes, speech and actions. Could we have lost the vision for our nation?

I spent part of last week at the Coast as a facilitator at the annual convention of the County Public Service Boards National Consultative Forum. Bringing together leaders serving on the boards from across the 47 counties, the convention ran on the befitting, yet telling theme, “48 Governments 1 Nation – Rebuilding the Kenyan Dream.”

Speaking at the convention, Prof Peter Wanyande of the University of Nairobi, and Macharia Gaitho, a renowned columnist, separately asked two pertinent questions: Is there such a thing as a Kenyan dream? If so, why does it need to be rebuilt? The two gentlemen then took us through a historical journey, each describing what they considered to be the Kenyan dream, which could be summarised as – a peaceful, just, and prosperous nation. The facilitators then explained how over the years the dream has been destroyed and hence the need to rebuild.

Listening to these great minds, and from the robust discussions that ensued, it became clear that as a nation, we have not only had valid dreams, but have put much effort at trying to realise them. Unfortunately, such hopes and aspirations have been cut short by successive dream killers. Many Kenyans therefore remain without hope in a land of great opportunities. Indeed, given the current political environment, we are at a place where the Kenyan dream is threatened perhaps with total extinction. The ripples from the disputed results of the August 8 and October 26 elections have refused to die and are instead forming into shockwaves that undermine the peaceful enjoyment of the blessings God has placed within our borders.

Entrenched positions

Though Kenyan dreamers are dog tired of the protracted disputations over elections, the political antagonists appear reenergised more than ever to engage in the mother of all wars. Sadly, the battle is unconventional as each draws its own rules for the game, always second guessing the opponent. The consequence is that, for the ordinary Kenyan, the uncertainty is high and the tensions palpable. Unless something drastic happens and happens fast, we could be staring at a long drawn out battle between Jubilee and NASA in coming days, weeks, or even months. Such a prospect neither stirs hope nor inspires dreams.

The religious, business, and diplomatic communities have consistently and persistently called for dialogue. It has been our singular conviction that given the deep feelings and entrenched positions, only a structured dialogue can steer us from definite headwinds. To this end, several groups and individuals have sacrificially spent endless hours trying to bring levelheadedness on this very critical matter. Unfortunately, the true perspective of the ultimate consequences of a war path do not seem to be fully appreciated by the key players. Consequently, there has been more lip service to such proposals, but with no visible commitment to pull the nation out of the mire.

As preachers, however, one of our gifts is patience and resilience in proclaiming the same message to the same people over and over again until there is some conversion. It is for this reason that we are not about to give up on calling our leaders to sobriety. The issues that have dogged this nation for decades are well known. Though some may be complex, they can be easily resolved if we apply our hearts and minds to it. Where there is a will, there is almost always a way.

Therefore, by the mercies of God, we appeal to those in government and their counterparts in the opposition: please drop your hard line stances and let us engage in constructive dialogue that will set this nation onto the path of peace.

Otherwise, from where I sit, it appears to me that we are now all set to drive our Kenyan dream to extinction. Like the foolish woman who destroys her house with her own hands, we too appear ready to destroy our nation with our own hands. In the converse, we can act with wisdom and contribute to the rebuilding of the Kenyan dream. May it be so.

-The writer is the Presiding Bishop at CITAM

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