“Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.” Menachem Begin. Leadership is a calling, it is through great leadership that as a country we can know true peace. I am a young Kenyan, hardworking, smart and consider myself quite exposed. Over the past few weeks I have struggled with the thought of running for political office for several reasons. First, throughout my life leadership has always followed me, if it was not being selected as a class prefect in a school I had just joined from my little known village school, it was being made head boy at the high school I joined after being transferred from a “good” school in which the deputy principal considered me trouble but hey I guess leadership had other thoughts.
Throughout my life I have had to take up various leadership positions not because I went out and asked to lead but because society at various levels felt like I had the strength and vision to be at the front whenever there was a need for such skills. In my 28 years on this planet I have met many great leaders. The first such example was my late father Jacob Oloo Adera. Now don’t get me wrong, I know all our dads were great leaders, in every sons eyes there is always that one hero who happens to be your dad and for those raised by a single mother you have your mom. Throughout his life my dad was superhuman in my eyes. Working a not so well paying job, raising nine kids with my mother and still harboring the hopes of a whole village when it came to emancipating our little community. My dad was everything, the doctor when we were sick, the teacher and the chef not to mention our superman when we saw ghosts at night. The biggest attribute however was his love for just about everyone and his willingness to take up the responsibilities of our whole clan or community be it here in Nairobi or back home in Kisumu. He was in every aspect the leader in our community.
The reason why I talk about this is because of the place I find myself in right now. In many aspects I see a reflection of myself in President Barrack Obama who I had the pleasure of meeting n DC in 2004 during my Mandela Washington Fellowship at the presidential summit. YALI or as is now referred to the Mandela Washington Fellowship allowed me to not just learn but meet some of the bravest, smartest and innovative young leaders on the continent. Before you start having your own ideas they are leaders in various sectors and not just in politics. Throughout my stay in the United States and our interactions with various leaders, I realized the potential we have as young people to lead the African continent to the glory everyone has proclaimed for it.
As I write this, my beloved country Kenya is going through a serious leadership situation. We have just held and election and though successful in most parts, it has had its fare share of ups and downs. I will not go into the elections process itself but I want to look at the leaders that put themselves up for us to elect them. If you go back to the clip below, you will listen to a young man full of hope, a young man who had looked around and seen the chance for a better kind of leadership. A young man who defied odds to bring not just America together but the world as a whole together. I want that for us, I want to be that for us as a country. Off course we share a lot in common, if not for the fact that the woman I am about to marry is called Michelle. O, we both play basketball oh and did I say I spoke to his wife and just as she believed in young Barry, she believes in me too. Anyway, I want to lead, I want to be President one day and just like the skinny kid from Chicago, I believe in the Audacity of hope, hope that one day we as Kenyans will look beyond tribe just like America looked beyond color, look beyond class just like the people of Embu did in this election and choose our leaders on the basis of merit.
I have met brilliant young men and women in this country over the past few years. Young minds that have moved the best of us with their acts of kindness and care and compassion for the less fortunate in our society. You only need to look at the likes of Josephine Kulea who against all odds has defied culture to stand for every Samburu girl, fighting for their education and making sure no girl is taken into forced marriages, Jacob Ouma who started Pan African Leadership Incubator (PALI) together with his lovely wife Anna Musandu both YALI fellows, and away from YALI, ordinary Kenyans like Samson Aluda who after we created chaos in 2007 took it upon himself to build a school with no money for the children who were left orphaned by post election violence in Kibera and yes you might say that they have not offered to lead but even when they do, like Boniface Mwangi and activist and Kenyas biggest human rights defender in my eyes did we still chose to ignore them.
I want to lead this country some day, and though I may not be Obama, and all that he has done for me as a Young African Leader may not be enough to stake claim for the highest office in the land, I know I have to start now. The question is will you let me lead or will you look at my last name and where am from? I leave that to history.