On this last day of 2022, here are lessons to carry to the New Year

Happy New Year 2023! [iStockphoto]

Today is the 365th day of 2022. I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity to pen this article on such a day.

Taking into account Biblical history, there is something extra to the year-end just coinciding with a Saturday.

The international Standard ISO 8601 for representation of dates and times sets Sunday as the last day of the week.

However, the Abrahamic religions regard Saturday as the seventh day of the week. Digging deeper into history, ancient Romans had an eight-day week civil practice for centuries until Emperor Constantine established a seven-day week in 321CE.

The emperor then designated Sunday as the first day of the week in the Roman calendar.

While there are divergent practices as to which is the Sabbath Day among Christians, from the account of creation in the Book of Genesis, Saturday is universally symbolic.

It would either mean the last day of God’s work of creation or the day He took a rest. Either of the two leads us to the symbolic number seven in Biblical teachings.

In an article posted on www.Christianity.com on January 31, 2020, Dolores Symth argues that among the many symbolic meanings within Christianity, number seven connotes such concepts as completion and perfection, exoneration and healing, and fulfillment of promises and oaths.

The significance of seven is without a doubt for it appears at least 700 times in the Bible.

Coming to the substance of this article, the curtains fall for 2022 not only on such a day of such religious significance, but also it will not be until seven years are over that we shall have such coincidence again.

Regardless of whether one views Saturday as the day of rest or the last day of work, 2023 could then be inferred to mean the beginning of a new seven-year era or the year of rest.

In many ways, 2022 was significant for Kenya. It was both an election year that meant a mandatory constitutional transition of power, while at the same time battling serious socio-economic challenges.

Leadership lessons

It is the year that the highest numbers of people dispersed across the largest geographical area have been mapped to be either direct victims of a severe famine or at very high risk.

Coupled with the embers of the deadly health pandemic, the cost of living has been unbearable for the majority of households.

The year closes only days after the end first 100 days in office for the Kenya Kwanza administration.

In reality, however, the year has also had other events of great historical significance that offer opportunities to reflect on and learn from.

Here I share five events that are not mutually exclusive that offer profound leadership lessons to the nation and each one of us as collective heirs of this great republic.

First lesson 

The first lesson is emerging from the 100-day scorecard for the Kenya-Kwanza administration.

On the eve of the festive season, separate independent opinion polls converged towards significant dissatisfaction with the performance of the new administration on key performance metrics.

These include the handling of the cost of living, economic recovery and inclusion in political appointments.

While no one can arguably say the administration rode into power through an absolute majority, their campaign rhetoric seemed to connect well with the masses.

Pushing for a case of a government of ‘small people’ in the country’s politics, there is a reason to worry about a barely average score from national public opinion.

This is despite their leaders’ continued public appeals for leniency in evaluating their performance this early.

The message coming from the people is simple: They shall not take empty promises and political rhetoric from those they have conferred upon the instruments of power and leadership responsibilities as a standard.

I have consistently been on record here that any new administration in Kenya must be acutely aware that they are dealing with a much more informed electorate than those of yesteryears.

The rejection of the Establishment candidate in the August 9 polls must be a constant reminder of this reality.

Second lesson

The second lesson is the reality that power is transitory. In the second term of the Jubilee administration there emerged a powerful cabal of men who never shied away from showing the public where power lies.

This group almost managed to convince the citizenry of the existence of an invincible Deep State that can even force poison down the throats of the people and still get away with it.

It did not help that State agencies appear to have been weaponised against opponents to the extent of infringing on individual and corporate rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.

It is instructional for those in positions of authority now to take note of how just 100 days can turn around things to a point of oblivion.

For those who wield power now, it must never be lost on them that five or even ten years is not such a long time –it will still come to pass. No one can hold back the clock of time.

Third lesson 

The third lesson is the fact that in any Constitutional democracy, power ultimately rests with the people. This point is closely related to the other two above.

On several occasions in this column, I have pointed out that there exists consistent evidence of the masses outwitting the Deep State and systems once in a while during elections.

The 2022 General Elections added an extra Bonga point to this fact on top of the 2002 closure of the presumably Kanu-era power brokers. It does not matter the pace, but this nation is slowly and surely transiting into a government of the people by the people and not some invincible shadowy characters.

Fourth lesson 

The fourth lesson here is on the inevitable mortality of each one of us. On April 21, 2022, the nation woke up to the passing on of former President Mwai Kibaki.

In addition to being one of the most consequential presidents in the nation’s six-decade independent history, he had dominated the country’s public life for five of those decades. This year not only took with it one of the nation’s great son but also marked the end of the independence generation of leaders.

The simplicity he requested for his final journey to eternal rest signifies to those of us left behind that it is the lives that we touch in our lifetime that will underwrite our legacy. Ultimately, positions of power will count for nothing if not used to advance the socio-economic welfare of society.

Finally, 2022 has proven beyond reasonable doubt that leaders bear the greatest responsibility in peaceful transitions of power.

For once in a long time, power changed hands among political foes without shedding innocent blood. This is a great milestone that as a nation and a people we cannot take for granted.

From this desk, allow me to say thank you for your great company in 2022. I wish every last one of us a fruitful 2023.