Free Kenya. A look at our past and present, and our neighbours.

15 04 2013


As Kenya turns 50 this year, there’s no denying that ours has been a long sinuous journey to get us where we are today. True, we may not be as far much ahead as one would expect a 50-year old nation to be, as in fact our economy trails those of many countries with whom we were at par in the mid 80’s to early 90’s.
That notwithstanding, we have a lot to celebrate this jubilee year, and am not talking politics when I say jubilee. To a large extent, we enjoy a great range of social freedoms not quite common in many African countries. With an increased intake in our schools comes an increase in the average literacy levels in the country. A literate public translates into a people who are well aware of their fundamental rights and freedoms, obligations and responsibilities, are ready to freely and wilfully submit to the rule of law and who continuously take their leaders to account over their actions or inactions. This is not a fete we have achieved easily. It has been largely as a result of endless sacrifices, commitment and sustained resistance to oppression, despotism and dictatorship.
I was conversing recently with a Sierra Leone national who has been in Kenya for about 2 months now. He has toured various West African countries and is now here for a 1-year tour of duty. He has been observing the goings-on in our country, more so the recently concluded Supreme Court hearings on the presidential petition, with a sense of awe and surprise. He confessed to me that going by what he has seen and heard so far, Kenya is way ahead of her West and Central African counterparts. This being in terms of liberties enjoyed by citizens and the respect to the rule of law by senior public officers.
He cites a few examples: how is it possible that people in Kenya discuss politics and senior politicians so freely with absolutely no fear of reprisal? How is it possible that someone as ‘high and mighty’ as a deputy chief justice can lose her job over something as ‘minor’ as pinching the nose of a security guard? How does ‘a whole’ attorney general call judges of the supreme court “my lords”. Is he not their senior? How do you make caricatures and cartoons of the president and publish them nationally? (He was referring to the weekly xyz show on NTV).


Believe it or not, these are freedoms that you would only dream of in many West African countries. But thanks to sacrifices made in the past by our true nationalists, we now take these liberties for granted. The Kenyan constitution 2010 in chapter 4 casts in stone and steel those freedoms that shall be guaranteed to all citizens. Going by the current and expected literacy/awareness levels in the country today, it would be foolhardy for any future regime to attempt to roll back the numerous gains made in our country, which in effect set a sound foundation for economic development and prosperity.
We therefore must jealously guard these freedoms and liberties that have been so much fought for. We also must open our eyes and notice the good things that have come our way in the last fifty years, even as we condemn the bad ones. We must, as Kenyans, do all that is within our individual and collective capabilities to overcome those attributes amongst ourselves that undermine the common good of the Republic and wash down the ideals that we stand for as a nation. Negative ethnicity, corruption, nepotism, cronyism and other ills will take us no further than we were fifty years ago. We must stand to be seen as Kenyans, not as members of our ethnic groups, if our country is to enjoy the gains made and fully realize the fruits of the new-found liberties.
Happy early 50th birthday to our beloved motherland.

His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki during the promulgation ceremony of the new constitution in August 2010. The constitution is one of the most progressive globally.

His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki during the promulgation ceremony of the new constitution in August 2010. The constitution is one of the most progressive globally.




One response

18 04 2013
Do not downplay the role ethnicity – Open letter to Dr. M. Wachira | The Reluctant Kenyan

[…] Free Kenya. A look at our past and present, and our neighbours. ( […]

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