As we wake up this chilly Friday morning, I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed the past one week. It all started with the dancing around the campaign platforms over the past year culminating in long lines some with Githeri in their hands others donning the beautiful red, black and green that epitomizes our unity as a nation all in a bid to cast their votes. We as Kenyans are lauded world over for many things. When you hear the west reference M-Pesa, Mo Farah or Usain bolt gush about David Rudisha or even the chants formed for Wanyama at Tottenham Hotspurs, oh snap the EPL is back tonight (I digress), you will see why my friend Gilad Milo says the Israelite’s refer to Kenya as the Nest of God.
Growing up, I always heard of tribalism from both people around me and those not too close to me. As a young man you are exposed to all sorts of conversations about tribes and which ones are this and which are that mostly on who not to marry by the way but anyway lets talk about that next time. From a very young age I have always taken myself to be very independent when it comes to making decisions and judging situations. As a registered voter, I have now voted twice and in both times it has been very satisfying, I like many other Kenyans braved the cold and cast my ballot this past week and believe me even though the line as we call it here in Kenya was as long as the southern bypass, there is no greater feeling than that of exercising your right.
Allow me to talk about the Kenyan voter here for a second, I being one of them. Right now as we speak, the Kenyan voter has done his(er) bit that is to cast his or her vote, we then proceeded to our homes and started to keenly follow the results. Leadership is a gift or at least I so believe, and God is the one who appoints one to a position of leadership (this is for those of us who believe in God and the existence of a higher power). Looking at the list of people lining up to lead us, you would be a foreigner to claim that you did not recognize most of the faces on our ballot papers because guess what? they have been there since I was born and some might be there when my unborn child gets to vote in some 20 years time to come. We all talk about change, what does change mean exactly. From the dictionary definition, change means to “make or become different or to make or use another instead of”. With this definition I find myself asking myself a lot of questions. What are we changing n this election, What are the options? Are we ready for Change? Can change come from existing leadership? I do not want to reference Obama and his great wind of change that moved the world because his answer to me would just be YES WE CAN! which might not suffice in his rural home here in Kogelo because even he would not beat Baba in Siaya (according to the locals) let alone Uhunye in Gatundu. Perhaps I would like to touch on Trump and the change that a majority of America voted for in 2016. You see, just like a Kenyan who believes Raila ni wetu or Uhuru ni wetu, politics will always bring the tribalists in us and if you followed the US elections last year you could clearly see that they voted based on exactly that, OUR GUY! MTU WETU!
If you cast your eyes on Kenya’s social media you will realize that no amount of education or exposure to the world and global perspectives can heal us Kenyans from this disease that is tribalism. We are quick to shun racism from the west and other European countries but throw stones at our immediate neighbors because of their last names and where they come from. When I went out to vote I had options, I had the prospects for change, we had people like Ekuru Aukot, Boniface Mwangi, Johnson Sakaja, John Paul Mwirigi-who had no posters let alone clothes to wear, and that guy who campained on a budget of 10k with a red bike, we had the young Suzanne Lengewa Silantoi who offered fresh leadership and the list could go on but as the 9th wonder of the world we were not going to miss a chance t0 amaze Kenya and the world at large. We chose the usual, the safe mtu wetu, we chose the Baba’s, the Uhunye’s, the Minji minji’s, the Sonkos, the Orengos, the Ngilu’s, the Sholei’s, the Baba Yao’s and this my people is the kind of change we know. Allow me to congratulate several counties who went ahead and not just chose fresh leadership but chose young men and women into posts not previously held by women or the youth for that matter.
I for one believe that as a people we are the problem, when you have the opinion leaders standing side by side with people accused of grand corruption and no proof of their innocence, when we vote for leaders with pending cases in court, people with mysterious wealth and a clear lack of integrity and as we have done now with several of them coming back as governors, senators Mp’s et al how do you expect them to change when they fed your thirst with the little they stole and now have a chance to make it all back? You see, the interesting thing is that in a few moths time, nurses are going to be on strike, teachers will follow suit, some school will be grabbed, teachers will also strike and off course the cost of living is never going down if we do not change our approach to food security issues in this country. That my people is the kind of change we have voted for. Change ya watu wetu, note: CHANGE YAO! Lets talk in December and see what Christmas gifts they will have prepared for us who voted for them.
The Kenyan voter is the 9th wonder of the world, praying for a miracle as you dig your own grave. We bury our future and hope that the same people that killed our hopes and chance at a brighter future will come like the proverbial savior and lift us up even with their greed and thirst for money and power. I believe leadership does not take an elective post, you do not need to be in parliament or statehouse to offer change, James Mwangi has revolutionized banking and provided thousands of jobs without being elected to any post, Many young people including myself are helping other young people get jobs and create work across the country, that is leadership. I urge the likes of Boniface Mwangi to take this as a chance to continue working, to share your brilliant ideas with the chosen ones because that is what we call building the nation. Offer your help to the government Dr. Aukot, work with Sakaja Madam Lengewa because guess what, if they even pick one out of the many great things you had planned for Nairobi, we will have all taken a step forward and that is true leadership my friends.
Finally as my very good friend Boniface Mwangi said in his concession speech, we are the leaders we chose and we as the Kenyan people have spoken. I also take this chance to congratulate his Excellency the President elect Uhuru Kenyatta and all the elected leaders in the 2017 general elections. The work is now to unite all Kenyans and continue from where you left off. 8.2 Million Kenyans have chosen you to lead this country though not to Canaan but maybe to Bamba :). To my fellow Kenyans, change is what we do with the leaders we chose. If we hold them accountable, they will work to change what we see as bad leadership and work to make Kenya better. If all we do is dance and celebrate our people winning, we will dance in the rain, go home hungry and watch as the same journalist who are now asking baseless questions ask more baseless questions when the governors start to buy non-carcinogenic wheelbarrows at 100k, build 2km roads at 2bn shillings and go on benchmark trips from Awendo to Kitui for a few millions and continue with their threats for impeachment of those that do not play ball.
PEACE is the only thing that we cannot afford to play around with in this life. I pray for PEACE, LOVE AND UNITY even as we embark on the journey of the next five years as a nation. God bless Kenya.
Photos: Courtesy ( Mavado Ondivour, Boniface Mwangi & Lengewa Silantoi)