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State jobs must enhance pride in our rich diversity

By Editorials | September 14th 2014

No parent would openly admit to having a favourite child. That doesn’t mean parents don’t have favourites; it just means they are wise enough – most of the time – not to make it obvious because of the problems that are sure to arise then and in future.

At home, ordinary sibling rivalry can turn into something really ugly when one child is known to be the favourite because he or she gets more treats than the rest or is exempted from household chores.

Resentment against and isolation of the favourite child are just a few of the side effects of favouritism. And this could go on for years, affecting family relations for several generations. Sometimes, it takes the “guilty” parent’s intervention to heal these wounds. And only if they are lucky.

That is why a wise parent will strive to spread the love equally and treat all the children alike. This might be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Even while harbouring extra love for that one child, the parent must be seen to be doing the right thing because no child ever sought to be born in that home, and none ever wants to feel less loved than his or her siblings.

When former National Intelligence Security boss, Michael Gichangi, announced his resignation, Kenyans were more interested in who would replace him than why he was leaving.

Indeed, a few political commentators came out and challenged the Government to do what they considered the right thing; one even dared ask if the Government was brave enough to appoint a replacement from outside the Mt Kenya region.

Last week saw the swearing in of two men to two key positions – one heading NIS and the other the Kenya Air Force; both conspicuously from the same region.

We sincerely salute the two and wish them well in their service. We have no doubt they will live up to public expectations in the discharge of their important duties.

But a random check of other top positions in the uniformed forces reveals a common denominator that is unsettling to say the least.

Of the 10 checked, five have bosses from one region. Three others are from the same region and the remaining two come from the same place.

Anyone elected to the top-most position in a country like ours must bear in mind at all times that he is the father of all 42 communities. They are his children, so to speak, and he must be seen to be sharing his love as equally as possible among all of them, especially considering that he got to that position because the majority of these “children” voted for him.

If he withholds his love from some children while lavishing it on others, he can expect squabbling, resentment and ugly incidents like shoe-throwing (as unfortunate as that was) which we strongly condemn, as those who feel neglected look for a way to vent their feelings.

Power makes room for those who wield it to do many things, some of which are not so good, such as failing to distribute equitably resources or positions.

And this is not a new story, just as the consequences of such failures are not new. Our considered advice to the presidency is that perceptions of discrimination and favouritism must not be allowed to fester at the expense of national cohesion.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Francis ole Kaparo has been nominated to head the national cohesion commission.

His work and that of fellow commissioners would be made easier by appointing authorities for state jobs remaining faithful to the constitutional requirement of such appointments reflecting the face of Kenya.

We must all take pride in our diversity and flourish in the truly Kenyan mosaic. For, we are all children of the same motherland.

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