It is our responsibility to build the Kenya we desire

Carefully consider whom you vote for. [iStockphoto]

The Kenya we desire has to be looked at as a community project and it starts with our collective responsibility of choosing leaders who care. As Catholic bishops, it is our pastoral responsibility to reflect on where we have come from at this time of transition. As we approach election day, we especially urge you to submit all aspirations to prayer.

We must be moved to act accordingly by the love of our country, and therefore cast our votes wisely.

But let us start by appreciating where we are. In the past month, the general mood and cooperation towards sustaining peace has been very encouraging. We need to jealously guard our peace now, during and after the elections. We have proven once more that we can be the true custodians of our country.

We thank all peace-loving Kenyans, each playing his or her role and taking proactive and courageous actions to maintain the peace we enjoy. We regret the few incidents of hatred and violence and condemn the instigators.

We urge politicians to guard what they say. Indecent or insulting statements just go to show how much a candidate does not deserve to be entrusted with leadership.

As we reflect on the Kenya we desire we must transcend the electioneering hype and pay attention to the spirit behind why we elect leaders in the first place. We must have a dream we aspire to, and be clear about what we wish to achieve as a nation. This will help us discern the calibre of leaders that will guide our path towards this dream.

Let us ponder the following aspirations in defining the Kenya we desire:

First, we need to aspire for an ethical Kenya. We hope for a Kenya where “right is right, and wrong is wrong”; a Kenya where good is rewarded and celebrated but evil is condemned and punished. In other words, a country that upholds public ethics. This refers especially to the use of positions and funds exclusively for the service of Kenyans and not for personal gain.

We look forward to a country where corrupt practices do not exist; a country where we can access public service without favouritism or need for bribery. A God-fearing nation that does not praise criminals and perpetrators of evil, but condemns evil. Our values should always reflect resistance to a culture of corruption in all its forms.

Second, we need to aspire for a law-abiding Kenya: a country where the rule of law is paramount and the culture of constitutionalism is entrenched. Where every Kenyan is treated equally, and where the weakest find equal recourse to justice. We look forward to a country where there is no impunity, and where the powerful and wealthy do not escape justice.

Delivery of services

We look forward to a Kenya where the citizens follow the law, not because law-enforcement is watching, but because it is the right thing to do; where we do not look for shortcuts to circumvent the law.

Third, we need to aspire for a united country where things work. The Kenya we desire emphasises structures of governance that enable government delivery of services. It focuses on Kenyans working together – different arms of government working in harmony. State and private sector coordinated for development. Citizens working in collaboration, each in their trade to build our nation.

We want a government that spends on the people, not its officials. We believe in righting wrongs, as a church and as Kenyans because this is possible.

Fourth, we aspire for a beautiful Kenya that cares for the environment. We have been blessed with a very beautiful country. Our landscapes include the snow peaks of Mt Kenya, our lush forests and hills, the wildlife that so many come to see, and the wonderful ocean with its marine life.

Squander gifts

However, we have squandered and used these gifts wastefully. We have depleted our forests through illegal logging, charcoal burning, and cutting down trees for firewood. We have witnessed our rivers and fountains drying up.

In turn, access to water for human use has become a challenge. The effects of climate change are evident with rising temperatures, unusually cold weather, and unpredictable planting and harvesting seasons among other catastrophic effects.

As we go to the polls, we have to look for leaders who care about our environment. Human development is not possible without proper strategies that ensure we care for and reclaim our Mother Earth.

Carefully consider whom you vote for. The Kenya we desire depends on you making a wise decision at the ballot. May God give us the wisdom to make the right judgment on who, from among the many candidates knocking at our doors, will uphold the values that build our society.