The Constitution is our national vision and shield against wrong

When the late President Mwai Kibaki displayed a copy of the New Constitution after the Promulgation ceremony at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on August 27, 2010. [File, Standard]

At a great cost of lives, courage, and suffering in the past, we have re-gathered our national vision. We have then put it in our 2010 Constitution.

The Constitution is not only a set of rules. It is also a vision for the nation. It is the most visible reminder of the vision. We see it constantly: Parliament, politics, the talks going on, the counties, governors, courts, and the police are all institutions of the Constitution at work in our daily lives.

The Constitution's vision is set out throughout and starts in the Preamble. This looks first at what we believe in collectively, and so "ACKNOWLEDGES the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation." It then "HONOURS those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land." This particularly honours the millions who resisted colonialism and fought for liberty.

It then looks at our present and, seeing we come from many backgrounds, finds that we are "PROUD of our ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity, and are determined to live in peace and unity, as one indivisible sovereign nation."

There can be no clearer restatement of our national vision. It is the first key vision of the Constitution. We have especially renewed this pledge because we have broken it several times in our past 60 years of independence. Further, we protect the land we so dearly fought for. So, we are "RESPECTFUL of the environment which is our heritage, and are determined to sustain it, for the benefit of future generations." Our own Wangari Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (2004), shows us how.

The Preamble then addresses poverty and ill health, "COMMITTING us to nurturing and protecting the well-being of each individual, the family, communities and the nation." Through what type of government is this to be done? The answer follows: By looking at our aspirations, by what inspires us. Thus the Preamble "RECOGNISES the aspirations of all Kenyans, for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the Rule of Law."

This is the second key vision of the Constitution. It is underlined in Article 10. So, "EXERCISING these inalienable and sovereign rights to determine our own governance" free of domination by anyone else, we participated in the making of this Constitution and in its "ADOPTION, ENACTMENT, and the GIVING of it to ourselves and to our future generations."

The third key vision of the Constitution: we have made this clear and detailed vision into law, a law over ourselves. Thereby, we have made our aspirations capable of working. We have made democracy enforceable. We have made human rights a reality. We have made leaders accountable.

We can check the centralisation of both power and wealth and of grabbing. Major examples are Chapter 6 on Leadership and Integrity, Articles 244 and 245(4) on the National Police Service, and Chapter 11 on Devolution and Counties. Devolution is the fourth key vision of ourselves and the Constitution.

This is how important our Constitution is. Against all the above, we can see how much this regime is devoid of any vision and why it is not implementing the Constitution's vision. To bring a culture of oversight and enforceability and steadily make our national vision a broader reality, it is necessary that all Kenyans do not hesitate to bring their grievances to the High Court, which sits in every county, to hear anyone.

Kenyans can come to court if they have suffered any injury due to a breach of their rights, whether by the State, the Police or individuals. But the Constitution is stronger than even that. Kenyans can come to court to protect themselves even if such violations are yet only threatened.

Know, therefore, that this vision is already present in our hands. We must never let this vision slip away or be taken away from us by any regime, individual or power.

Because, though we may suffer much and long, by implementing our rights, we will suffer much, much more and much, much longer by letting them be taken away.

When we are united against injustice and illegal force, we not only suffer less, but we bring injustice and illegality to an end because the Constitution is not only a manifesto but is also a vision for good and a shield against wrong.

-The writer is senior counsel