“Will we succumb to chaos, division, and inequality? Or will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together?” the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres posed to global leaders in the 18th edition of the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture. The lecture was given as part of the celebrations of Nelson Mandela International Day which is celebrated on the 18th of July every year to honor the legacy of a global icon whose values continue to inspire many seven years after his death.
The question above resonates well in the Kenyan context we find ourselves in today. Many Kenyans feel the supplication in our national anthem, “O God of all creation bless this our land and nation”, has gone unanswered or the blessings have been few, with the rest praying for more blessings upon the few. It is worth noting that we are in the middle of a global pandemic whose effects on the economy have caused untold suffering to countless Kenyans. Declining income, closure of businesses, and the loss of jobs only reflect the tip of the iceberg. The political climate in the country, however, seems to suggest otherwise. One would be forgiven for thinking we are months to a general election with the novel coronavirus already contained.
The political doldrums in the midst of a pandemic make one wonder whether it is a blessing or a curse to be born in this country. It seems this quagmire is what made a netizen to hilariously assert that this country should be closed for repairs.
However, all is not lost. Amidst all these, we are given a chance to correct mistakes and build a future while appreciating our not so memorable past. It is while we are down that we scratch our heads for the way up. It is no longer tenable to remain in the trenches and complain about poor governance and corruption in government. It is time to advance against the ills that bedevil our societies and stand to be counted. After all human history is replete with circumstances where the unfathomable has been achieved by the unexpected.
In this sense, rising up means fighting the undoing that fan negativity and embrace those that bind us in unity and form the hegemony that Kenya should be. This means extending our arms to the less fortunate in our communities and demanding action from authorities where we feel there are issues. It also means the citizenry making an effort to become more informed on how they are and how they should be governed. Above all, it is all about raising the political cautiousness of the people to enable them to make decisions that benefit them in post-COVID 19 elections.
Finally, it is also about our leaders owning up to the great responsibility bestowed on them by leading from the front. It is a great dereliction of their ordained duties to be the ones leading in subverting laws which are meant for the good of the people to oppress and deny citizens their right. Politicking on succession politics in these extraordinary times is at best pharisaical of them.
The good for all is a prosperous country where unemployment is eradicated, healthcare accessible by all, housing no longer a preserve of a few, food security attained, and where the rule of law reigns. Now is the time to begin the actualization of this, because this is what we signed up for.
Written by Kibet Brian who is a Student at the University of Nairobi – School of Law in Parklands. He comments on topical issues with a bias for Tax, Social, and Administrative Justice.
Twitter: @Kibett_Brian | Facebook: Ki-Bett Brian