As we celebrate birth of Christ, let leaders listen to majority Kenyans

President William Ruto shares a moment with State House Staff as they celebrated their Christmas. [PCS]

As we celebrate the birth of Christ tomorrow, let us spare some thoughts for our fellow Kenyans who will have no merry or joy at Christmas.

This is because the majority cannot afford luxury because of the high cost of living and decreased purchasing power due to heavy taxation burden.

Those marooned in places where infrastructure was damaged by heavy rains and floods are unable to afford the hiked prices of fuel, food, clean water, and medicines available. It is heartbreaking to see these Kenyans and refugees desperately trying to survive under incredible adversity while the rest of us appear oblivious.

The canoes ferry the few that can afford them across broken bridges and destroyed roads because they have no alternative and yet the majority are left behind in precarious conditions risking disease and starvation and out of sight.

Kenyans are hard-working and resourceful, they just need our government to be more facilitative, reduce the heavy burden of taxation, and create an enabling environment for generation of wealth to help them be self-sustaining, and enhance resilience in our communities. We also need urgent repairs to our broken infrastructure.

Kenyans have proven their ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, droughts, even flooding, and other disasters such as the high cost of living and weakening shilling.

However, there is a limit to the amount of stress, emotional upheaval, difficulties and suffering a person can withstand and successfully adapt without breaking.

If people believe their leaders and systems and know the rough and difficult patches they experience will end soon, then they are willing to endure and let hope and faith for a better future sustain them through the hard times. However, people are losing hope and trust in leaders’ promises that things will get better because they don’t seem to correspond to their actions, as citizens seem to be making one-sided sacrifices with their resilience being tried and tested beyond their capacities.

A social media clip of a former Provost of the Anglican Church appears to resonate with majority of Kenyans when he says the ruling class doesn’t seem to care about their depressing situations with a weak Parliament too ready to be used by the Executive to heap more taxes on people.

Yet, this government came to power on a promise to reduce the high taxes only to get in power and make the taxation load heavier amid allegations of grand corruption. He further shocked the audience when he reminded them that the Controller of Budget had told of the Office of the President and State House spending Sh23 million daily; almost Sh1 million an hour.

He admonished a weak opposition doing little to genuinely hold the government to account and warned leaders against hiding in Christianity, which is for people of integrity urging both the government and the opposition to be more responsive to cries of Kenyans.

Although most of us grew up poor, Christmas was happy and special, a mix of religious and family celebrations where relatives who worked away from the village, returned bearing goods and gifts, witnessed only during Christmas, such as new school uniforms and undergarments and if lucky, a new dress for church. It was also the only time most of us ate meat – chicken, goat or ducks, rabbits, whatever was available and in plenty. We went for the night vigil mass and the following Christmas morning our female relatives cooked chapatis with the only frying pan in the village doing household rounds that they had booked months in advance.

The prices of goods and commodities were moderate and the purchasing power of the shilling was strong so we had something new to wear for the morning mass on Christmas Day and lots to eat and even share with those even less fortunate than ourselves.

Today, the number of people experiencing poverty and want has increased exponentially and cries to the government are ever so loud. That is why this Christmas leaders must soften their hearts, listen to people, and become more responsive. That’s the only way to return joy and the merry to Christmas. I pray for peace and for us to experience the true meaning of Christmas.