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Jamhuri Day offers us a chance to right the wrongs as a nation

By Editorial | December 13th 2020


Kenyans took a well-deserved break from their activities to celebrate the nation’s 57 years of self-rule.

Jamhuri Day, the date the country gained independence on December 12, 1963, offered Kenyans a new chance to rethink their purpose and their roles in nation building.

The celebrations, no doubt, drew mixed feelings coming at a time of deep political divisions and harsh economic realities occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed as President Uhuru Kenyatta indicated, it was simply a moment of national reflection, specifically on the extent to which we have delivered on the dreams and aspirations of our founding fathers. In his speech at Nyayo National Stadium yesterday, President enumerated the hits and misses, as he retraced Kenya’s journey since we hoisted our independence flag.

He said Kenya is not a finished work but one in progress. Likewise, he reminded Kenyans of the transformation that started in 1965 with the Sessional Paper No 10, which inspired the Sessional Paper No 1 of 1986 on renewed growth.

And on June 10, 2008, Vision 2030 was crafted, with its logic eventually giving rise to the current Big Four being implemented by the Jubilee administration. Since then, many projects have taken off.

But despite the strides, teething challenges persist, especially in the fight against corruption, poverty, disease, hunger, land pressures, unemployment and insecurity not to mention negative ethnicity. No country in the world is immune to these challenges. However, it takes an accountable leadership and a responsive population to address them.

Patriotism can never be bought. We believe yesterday’s occasion and indeed this season should set a new beginning for Kenya. The true meaning of nationhood should genuinely reside within us even if we hold different political standpoints. Truth is, there is nothing Kenyans will gain from sustained political competition. We have seen worrying divisions taking shape as we head to the 2022 elections, with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report and the determination to amend the 2010 Constitution becoming the new battlefront.   

We take this opportunity to urge leaders to pursue workable models that will accelerate economic growth and ensure unity of purpose. BBI drive is a good starting point. However, it must not breed further political and ethnic exclusion.

It is not a bad idea to stretch the limits. President Kenyatta and BBI proponents believe that through BBI, an expanded Executive and constitutional recognition of the opposition will reduce the notion of ‘political scarcity’ and the propensity for electoral violence every five years. 

When Uhuru and Raila shook hands at the foot of Harambee House on March 9, 2018 at the peak of post-poll chaos, they identified ethnic antagonism and unhealthy competition, safety and security, lack of inclusivity and shared prosperity, lack of national ethos and corruption, devolution, human rights and freedoms and recurrent divisive elections as areas that needed to be addressed. 

As we’ve previously pointed out, the interest of Wanjiku should be sacrosanct even as we heard towards a possible referendum. Uneven distribution of resources can breed discontent. Since 2013, Sh2.1 trillion has been disbursed to the counties in form of equitable share from revenues raised nationally, conditional allocations, as well as from proceeds of loans and grants from development partners. Let there be a sustained effort to build capacity of county governments.

Real nation building should begin, hinged on true nationhood. Let leaders make dialogue a priority in seeking solutions to every problem. Political arrogance and exclusion will only leave us with a frustrating sense of helplessness.

The year 2020 has had its own share of challenges. Only bold actions will help us beat the Covid-19 challenge and restore the economic leverage we once enjoyed over our neighbours. Kenya needs jobs, better hospitals, better roads and schools to improve quality of life for citizens.

As a nation, we have an obligation to protect our future by reinforcing our nationhood. Let real effort go towards making Kenya a better place.

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