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Saba Saba legacy, 25 years on

PETER KIMANI
By Peter Kimani | July 10th 2015

This week was the 25th anniversary of Saba Saba Day, an important political signpost when Kenyans said unanimously that they wanted the freedom to organise politically, and demanded the re-introduction of multiparty politics.

I recall the day, as well as the drama captured in the following day’s papers. We all remarked, in that dreamy way that only youths can marshal, about the historicity of the day.

I have been contemplating the legacy of that day most of this week, and I have concluded that Saba Saba Day is both affecting and effecting.

While the monumental political oppression was overcome that day, there is something hideous about the implications of the milestone.

It confirmed, indeed, that ours is a society of struggle, or to use the political parlance in vogue, kinyang’anyiro.

There has to be a measure of contestation for anything to be achieved.

I experience that every day on city streets; no motorist is willing to give way, or respect the rights of other road users because ours is a tradition of struggle.

I see the rush into elevators before those inside can step out and make room; I see it in the scram into matatus.

And politicians will rob us blind and insist they would rather die than resign.

But then, the management of the public affairs are so shoddy, student loans cannot be disbursed unless they threaten street action, while workers won’t even clean toilets unless the boss threatens them with the sack.

It is simply impossible to get anything done unless there is the threat of the pain of death.

Which raises important questions how we are likely to fair over the next 25 years with the sort of indiscipline manifest in our land, an attitude inadvertently attributed to Saba Saba, soiling the memory of our forebears who were disciplined and focused in their demands for liberty.

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