Kenyans and Friends of Kenya must cease the moment to move the country to greatness. We have a once in a life-time opportunity to do so. The only two other that come to mind were at independence and in 2002 when the country literally united to send KANU home. In both cases, especially the latter, the opportunity was sadly squandered.
Among its various achievements, NARC nonetheless gave the country a long-term vision, Vision 2030, which we never had before. Previously, we only had 5-year plans best known for gathering dust on shelves in government offices. Sessional Paper No 10 of 1965 and the District Focus for Rural Development made impressive effort and came close, but didn’t go far enough.
Vision 2030 that has also influenced and is aligned to global and regional visions, namely the UN SDGs, AU’s Agenda 2030 and EAC’s Vision 2025, anticipates mid-income status by 2030. Even with just over 10 years to go, this goal is still achievable if certain conditions are right. After all, didn’t Singapore move from 3rd to first world just in 30 years? Other ‘miracle’ countries are walking that path; Korea, Botswana, Mauritius and closer home, Rwanda, to name a few. Only 3 things stand between Kenya and that trajectory, namely impunity, corruption and ‘ukabila’ – all a result of leadership deficit especially at national but also other levels and in diverse sectors as well.
Kenya cannot under any circumstance make the next big leap, if these 3 – call them ‘software’ are not fixed. Vision 2030 anticipated a 2-digit annual growth. This is only possible with an inspiring, visionary, incorruptible and inclusive leadership able to rally all Kenyans around the course. It would have to be leadership by deed, not words. As the SDGs aptly puts it, ‘leaving no one behind’ should be the rallying call.
The converse, that we have had over the past 50 or so years, and especially the past 10 spells only doom. 2007/8 was only a taste of it.
At the climax of last elections, the toxic ethnic relations reached unprecedented levels. In my entire adult life, I have never seen Kenyans so polarized. Even most of the so-called moderates vanished into one ruthlessly opposing divide or other. The anti-Kikuyu, Kalenjin, or Luo hate was immeasurable. With it came destitution – ‘I would rather you shoot and kill me’, if that’s what it takes to bring change. For once, hitherto simmering voices of secession were loud. One cannot fail to attribute the growing spate of homicides to that desperation and indignity.
Am not sure of President Uhuru’s or Rt Hon Raila’s sincerity; but they don’t have many other opportunities to bequeath lasting legacies. If the ‘Handshake Project’ was to backfire, consequences would be much direr. Whereas there were many Kenyans on both sides of the divide who wouldn’t give a hoot if outright civil war broke out, as nearly did, those who have experienced such in war-torn countries would deeply advise against it. Firstly, there is never a winner – one can’t rejoice ruling over corpses. Secondly, it would take at least 10-15 years to bring to an end, if at all. The consequences are tragic.
This is why it is incumbent upon all people of goodwill to cease the opportunity to rally Kenya towards unity, justice, prosperity and greatness. We need not reinvent the wheel. A Vision 2030 Retreat recently addressed the ‘Political Pillar’, largely where the software to fix the country is domiciled. Many Kenyans might not recall that in 2012/13, the Cabinet and ultimately parliament passed the 2 Sessional Papers Nos 8&9 on National Values, Cohesion & Integration. They cover literally all the 9-Points in the ‘Handshake Agenda’, and recommend specific actions. But times have changed, and the consultations then may not have been all-inclusive and extensive.
This is why the National Mediation Forum, which advocates an inclusive, home-grown, people-centred and driven ‘National Dialogue’, proposes a rapid appraisal to establish what ails Kenya, and what the prescription and end-game should be. It shall rely on previous work, e.g. constitutional process from 1997-2010, TJRC, National Values Taskforce Report, Opinion Polls, on-going surveys by religious communities, etc, to inform the national conversations. This is the only genuine and sustainable way to heal Kenya’s dark past, and launch the country onto a stellar growth trajectory.