Forget about what’s not working, let’s focus on what’s working

Last week, online commentators went into a frenzy wondering what had kept President Uhuru Kenyatta away for so long.

Some harangued the over the much publicised “handshake” between him and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

In their recent trip to China, the two leaders showed their East Asian interlocutors a unified nation that is dependable as a trading partner and ally. Relations like these put us at the beginning of what promises to be a long era of stability. As a result, the trade deals signed with China stand to strengthen our economy in the coming years across sectors, making us healthier, wealthier and stronger.

Shared initiatives

Critics of the handshake and the subsequent shared initiatives might agree with Philip II of Macedonia’s “divide and rule” ideology. But as we have historically seen in the case of Kenya, a divided nation means more fighting, and less prosperity. Is that why President Kenyatta has made it his priority to strengthen the nation through unity across the political and social spectrums?

I guess yes. A unified nation means less fighting and violence, less deadlocks when trying to pass bills in Parliament, and a shrinking gap between the rich and poor, something we can all agree is better for the nation in the long term.

Almost a century after his death, the German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe teaches us an important lesson about how a strong leader overcomes differences to empower and unify a nation: “Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.” It sounds straightforward, but it is not obvious, nor easy.

By spending his time meeting with foreign dignitaries to sign trade deals that make Kenyan farmers prosper, by using his time to make palpable changes - signing bills into law - rather than scouring for photo ops when some critics ask to see him, by taking the bold step in working with the opposition to come up with policy solutions that work for all Kenyans, isn’t the president putting Kenya first?

Kenya is a beautiful nation, known around the world for its diversity in languages, peoples, landscapes and much more. Isn’t it refreshing when our leaders take the advice of Goethe by weaving a diverse nation together in one vibrant, bold tapestry.

This is no simple task, and one that takes time and great determination to achieve. For this reason, those leaders spending much of their time busying themselves with 2022 election politics- that seem to have engulfed Kenyan news and media outlets so fervently- should be deemed as not working for Kenyans.

The Health Laws Bill of 2018 that President Kenyatta signed  will boost the rollout plans for universal health coverage.

Global power

Mark you; the Big 4 goals are challenges that cannot be achieved overnight. It will need trust, patience and support of the Kenyan people.

This agenda is characterised by advantages to all Kenyans; it builds upon our unity to develop us as a prosperous nation and leader of Africa.

The feeling out there is that under the Jubilee administration, Kenya is a harbinger of Africa’s booming development in the 21st century as it emerges as a global power on the world stage.

But there is more work to be done including dealing with runaway corruption and the political gangsterism that props it up. But right now, it is essential that we show the world a unified nation, that can be trusted, that is reliable, and will be a partner for many years to come.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are showing Africa and the world how constructively different parties are working together on the basis of trust devoid of competitive politics.

As Kenya vies for a seat at the UN Security Council this September, the world will see a unified nation. Furthermore, we can be proud to belong to a unified African nation that represents a unified Africa in international forums.

Before getting swept into partisanship squabbles next time, remember that divide and rule has never worked for us, and has only brought violence and suffering. But now, we can stand tall and face the future with optimism and hope, and members of a unified nation.

Mr Temba is a communication consultant