We are living in fear and our lives are under threat. Insecurity has demonstrated that it doesn’t matter where you are but as long as you are within kenya’s boarders you are not safe. I hate to break it to you but we are to blame. We are getting paid for the sins we have committed as a country. We allowed ourselves to be compromised and now we are crying. For a long time I was bitter with the colonialists because I believed they found us living in peace and disrupted our way of life. I have since had a change of mind and I now believe the blame should heaped on us and our founding fathers. I respect the many who fought for our independence and I strongly believe they had the best intentions. However, when we got independence the few [that we call our founding fathers] got into power messed it up for the rest of us.
The colonialists herded us from our ancestral lands into reserves and grabbed our fertile lands for themselves. But after independence, our founding fathers grabbed and bought the same lands [formerly our ancestral lands] from the colonialists for themselves. They never repatriated the indigenous Kenyan people to their ancestral lands instead they conspired against us. THAT is the first crime they committed against us. Many of our forefathers and their cronies became wealthy by buying off land soaked in blood and the tears of Kenyans. All the while, Kenyans suffered from disease and poverty in the reserves. We lost our dignity and our cultures. We have lived in lands that we didn’t feel comfortable in. We lost our integrity and took up the same traits we saw in our corrupt founding fathers. We got into the cycle of grabbing and stealing because we knew we had no one fight for us. From fighting together against colonial we turned to fighting each other because the resources were not enough. There was not much land to go around. Since our founding fathers knew system they had engineered would eventually turn against them, they made us hate each other. It made more sense for them to uses Kenyans to kill Kenyans to achieve their selfish gains.
Their ploy was a success. We started comparing ourselves to each other and we suddenly realised the Maasai had huge herds of cattle and tracts of land. Knowing that made us feel inferior. It made us uneasy that the Luos were more learned and assertive. We suddenly assumed that the Kikuyu were all thieves because most of their leaders were in power and they had wasted no time in stealing resources from their fellow countrymen. We were taught to be cautious with each other. And like a lover scorned, we let these notions simmer in our hearts because we were afraid of talking to each other. Our forefathers had managed to deflect our attention from them and they gained whenever we fought. They held on to power and won elections whenever they made us spite each other. They marginalised us and made our ambitions to be based on our ethnicity. They are still winning. The sad truth is, our forefathers had made us think they were tribalist just like us but unreality, they were partners in crime. They were united by wealth and the secrecy that is bred in shared ambition. Their children attended each other’s birthday parties and even shared bank accounts, businesses and property. All the while, the poor Kenyans were busy sowing the seeds of mistrust between their children and the children of other ethnicities. They taught us to step on each other’s heads to climb the various ladders in life. They taught us that the only way our tribes would exist is if all the others ceased to exist. That was the first massacre.
Our current crop of leaders were the first children of our forefathers. They became our leaders because they had the resources needed to ascend to power. They had learned well from their fathers on the secrets of power. They are sworn to each other on secret pacts. They understand what it means to keep the wealth in their families. They know what it means to use us to remain in power. Since this is the lingua franca of politics and power in our country, anyone who comes to power is forced to play by these twisted rules or risk losing their keep. We have become addicted to politics of tribe and not merit and that is why any leader who ignored tribal politics never makes it far. We always blow in the direction our seemingly caring leaders blow us. This is why we will always fight and kill each other.
Lately, there has been a wave of partriotism that seems to be working albeit a slow pace. We have started shunning tribal politics but it is still not enough. There’s much more that remains to be done. However, the ruling elite that runs the country’s affairs behind the curtains is growing uneasy. They know that their institutions of ethnic politics are under threat. This is precisely why they are switching to religion based politics. They know that next to tribe, the other thing that most Kenyans hold dearest to their hearts is faith. This has the potential of turning into our worst nightmares. The big question here for us Kenyans is whether we can see through this ploy.
So what do we do to get ourselves out of this nightmare and bring peace and prosperity to our nation?
To our president Uhuru Kenyatta, you can end this by dealing with the issues that were the genesis of our current woes. First and foremost, find a way of giving back to Kenyans what they lost. I’m talking about land and resources. Let there not be a Kenyan living in misery because of the sins our founding fathers (yours included) committed. Surely we have enough land to settle disgruntled communities and enough to provide food for the hungry masses! Have we ever rewarded those that fought for our independence? You assume that all their children want is money and since they must be many we cannot afford it but I say let’s give them something better than money! Let’s give them scholarships and let’s make health be affordable for them by waiving medical costs for all of the documented freedom fighters. Look around! Even developed countries may have their own problems but never forget their veterans. As it is, we are an ungrateful nation and that is our undoing.
In regard to the poor who live in slums and survive on crumbs, it is common knowledge that if the government wanted to pull down all the slums in Kenya and replace them with decent housing and infrastructure it would. Let’s take away the very misery that our politicians use to win elections. Poor people will always lack the power of choice as long as they lack empowerement. Empowered people can never be held ransom because they are a free people. Let’s pay the same people to build their own decent housing and to improve their living conditions. That’s the first job creation exercise that will be much welcome. Decent housing brings equality and suddenly poor Kenyans won’t have to fight over space, water and money.
Of insecurity, let us re-design our approach. Mr. President, at your word, you can disband our security apparatus and replace it with a tailor made outfit because you really don’t have any other option [unfortunately]. What we have now doesn’t work because it is deeply rooted in cultures that were established pre-independence. Our security officers are corrupt to the core and this will forever be a thorn in our side. I say disband all the disciplined forces structures and let’s start on a clean slate. Let’s start with patriotism at the primary school level. We should do away with the scouts movement [that was established by a white supremacist] and replace it with life skills and patriotic school clubs and syllabi. By so doing we will have changed the perception of any young person that joins our disciplined institutions at childhood. At your word, make it the burden of the state to make sure anyone in the disciplined forces will never have to worry about housing, health and life insurance. A poor, sick and homeless person lacks dignity and loses his power of choice. By providing the above, corruption will wither away and patriotism will be nurtured; the state protects you and you protect the state.
Still on insecurity, let’s find out why our people are turning against their own to carry out acts of terror and crime. Is it a lack of purpose in life? Is someone else taking advantage of a void in society? That is what we need to address. Confronting internal homegrown terrorism with force is a temporary fix and it almost always fails in the end. I say we confront it with a strategy that will give the youth a sense of purpose. It takes longer but the results are long lasting. As long as our young people lack purpose, they will always be internal mercenaries ready to fight for any cause that gives them a sense of belonging. Let’s also investigate why a people displaced in one county get to be resettled in another. To me, that sounds like a cause for conflict. We are all Kenyans but let’s be honest with ourselves, location matters. In the recent Mpeketoni massacre a few things stood out. First the population is largely made up of a community that was resettled on donated land. My big question is, did this resettlement come at the expense of the local indigenous peoples? Did this resettlement have a negative impact on the cultures of the existing peoples? Is there a reason why these formerly displaced people could not be resettled in their original lands or a place close by? I believe that any resettlement should be planned delicately to avoid future conflict. Let’s shoot straight. We know the underlying cause of ethnic violence. It is our leaders. Both the leaders that are the cause and those that take advantage to meet their own ends.
On our invasion of Somalia (yes I said invasion) I say we bring our troops home now. We have seen through experience that this was not our war. We know that there’s a bigger war going on that is based on neo-colonialism. You can imagine what would have happened had we gone into Sudan to ‘liberate’ the Sudanese. In African culture when your neighbour and his wife are fighting, you should know better than to come in-between them. They will eventually make up but they will label you as their enemy. Let’s concentrate our resources in making sure that our people are safe within our borders. I understand why we went into Somalia in the first place but I also understand that by doing so we unconsciously became part of someone else’s bigger plan. Did Somalia need liberation? My answer is no. We didn’t act on a consensus from the Somali people. We also didn’t act on the consensus of the Kenyan people. We live in a country where a few individuals have the script of what’s going on while the majority are meant to just tag along. Therefore I strongly say we committed a mistake in invading another nation. We broke the nature of our relations with other countries. We are supposed to be a neutral state but we gave that up for more suffering. We might have had great successes in bringing down the strongholds on terrorist organisations in the horn of Africa but we have suffered more as a result. We have been attacked within our boarders more times in the last decade that any time before. We live in fear yet we are supposed to be the beacons of hope to people of other nations who flee their countries in fear. It is not too late to change our mind. Let’s just bring our brave soldiers home and put our house in order first.
On corruption, let us agree it is the mother of all our problems. I have a simple suggestion to our leaders. For once, do the right thing. Agree to end corruption. As with most challenges, the devil is in the details. Our justice system has serious flaws. A person who steals a chicken receives a harsher sentence than a person who steals peoples retirement money from a scheme. Bribing with a policeman with kshs. 10,000 will always be a better option than sleeping in a cell, going to court and paying a hefty fine of kshs. 100,000 because of overlapping. You are to blame for creating these ‘revenue streams’ for corrupt poor and homeless policemen. I think this situation just requires common sense so I will not dwell on it; just fix it.
We have become a nation of ranters and experts on everything (I included) but I hope this article will be read by our children if not you. Maybe through them I will change our country. This is my contribution to our freedom. Tell me yours.