Sunday Sermon 12: Kenyans must unite for their Motherland or perish

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Central government or the presidency can no longer carry the burden of blame over marginalisation of parts of the country while governors sleep in palaces in the midst poverty, disease and hunger

Both the 2010 Constitution and 1963 independence National Anthem conjures a Nation called Kenya where all tribes live in peace, harmony and prosperity. That implies doing away with all the trifling, petty and frivolous woes that keep people divided into various groups or sections.

However, since independence politicians have built a Kenya torn apart by ethnic hate and parochial interests, which a majority of the populations cannot fathom. Millions of Kenyans go about their daily lives without any reference to their tribal affinity until election time. During election campaigns Kenyans are reminded you are this tribe you are marginalized the government is corrupt etc etc. That is why patriotic Kenyans must be concerned over the current political secession calls and ethnic hate reverberating around the following the August 8th General Election.

Seemingly lacking insightful political experience from 2007-2008 Post-Election Violence, some leaders appear hell-bent in politics of Hell to deliver their motherland to the Devil’s gate because of losing the presidency. To date the post-election violence bloodbath has cost the country over 1,500 deaths, devastated over 650,000 families or 3.2 million Kenyans and destroyed in excess of Ksh 200 billion in business and economic development. Above all ethnic bitterness runs deep with national cohesion fabrics torn wide apart.

National Unity is the process of uniting of various groups that have different social and cultural backgrounds, into one physical entity. Integration is a practice of uniting groups with different backgrounds into one entity bound by common norms, values and interests. The unity that exists in the country is founded upon power sharing, a democratic government, sound economy distribution and cultural tolerance.

Our national integration is based on the sentiment that we all belong to Kenya as whole. It is this sentiment that makes us proud of our citizenry as Kenyans and binds all people in one common bond no matter what tribe, religion or language and social custom they may belong to. It is a strong natural force that creates unbreakable ties among the people and makes them identify themselves as a part of a single whole nation.

This positive feeling helps people in developing an outlook, which is free from selfish considerations and which makes a person subordinate his or her interest in favour of the larger interest of the community and country as a patriot. It includes a desire to defend the interest of the country. It encourages people to contribute to the welfare, peace prosperity of the country as a whole. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission and Brand Kenya are two organisations groping in the dark while as Kenyans we are burning our own Nation.

Kenya’s ethnic differences are politically fanned by politicians who continue to spread discontent over the so-called national cake, resource distribution and public appointments. That skewed viewpoint obtained during the presidential political system when the national cake was shared at State House. The current political dispensation of Parliamentary system and devolution changed all that. The national cake is today shared and distributed at the Parliament and County Assemblies.

At national level the National Assembly Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators determine and share out the entire national budget deciding which money goes to what County as well as what amount is allocated to what project. The MPs get Community Development Fund (CDF) and Women Representatives further get additional cash. At County level Members of County Assembly (MCAs) determine what money funds the County projects. There is no money determined or paid at State House for any development projects to marginalize or to the disadvantage of any part of the country.

Devolution should therefore, be a channel to unite Kenyans not to divide them along ethnic lines. In that respect governors have a major role to play and not to misuse County funds then scream pesa mashinani without showing what they have achieved in County development. Governors should not preside over wasteful plunder and then point a finger at Central Government claiming they have not been funded after buying wheelbarrows, curtains and hospital beds or building walls for astronomical figures.

Central government or the presidency can no longer carry the burden of blame over marginalisation of parts of the country while governors sleep in palaces in the midst poverty, disease and hunger.

The current and constant bashing of the Central government economic performance is a deliberate diversionary tactic to divert attention to massive plunder of public funds by County government of which ODM-Cord political outfit has a majority. The heat piled on the presidency betrays claims of ODM-Cord support for devolution when its leadership is not bothered about delivery of public services and grassroots development to boost social economic prosperity, ethnic cohesion and national unity. ODM-Cord appears full time focused on State House not the people of Kenya.

The acknowledgement of one people one Kenya is the very basis of national unity sentiment. National integration is a psychological process involving the development of a feeling of unity, solidarity and cohesion in the hearts of the people, a sense of common citizenship and a feeling of loyalty to the nation one belongs to. In another way one can refer it as the animated sympathy or feeling of one for the other and the warm-hearted love and sympathy of one Kenyan for others, who live in this large country. It is a sub- jective factor and there is no barometer to measure or indicate its intensity. It has, therefore, been a matter of controversy whether Kenya enjoys national integration.

There are some people who think that Kenya has never existed as a unified, undivided and indivisible unit in the past. There are those who say that Kenya is not a political name but only a geographical expression created by colonial settlers in the name of the highest landmark Mount Kenya. Colonial masters’ most essential thing to teach about Kenya was that there was not and never was a Kenyan or even any country of Kenya possessing, according to European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious identity.

No Kenyan nation, no people of Kenya of which we hear so much but 42 tribes encased on a map drawn after the notorious scramble for Africa as a British East Africa property. As late as 1920, the British referred to Kenya as a conglomeration of primitive natives with no religion. It is not only foreigners but many Kenyan thinkers also believe that Kenya never existed as a nation and there was no national integration in Kenya in any period of history.

So far as foreigners are concerned, they appear to be biased against Kenya and her peoples’ capacity for unity. This may be true that Kenya did not exist as a recognisable single well-knit unit in the past because a general survey of Kenyan religion, philosophy, mythology, legends, and architecture does not represent a picture of single homogeneous, well-united nation in the past before the colonialists arrived. Neither were the present day Europen counties or those in America or even Asian continent.

But after close to 100 years of Kenya as a country there are rich distinct ethnic diversities that should not be mistaken for national disunity. This diversity is a special feature of Kenya’s unity, it provides colour to Kenyan life. All the discordant ‘isms’, that have no doubt succeeded in creating certain spells of unfortunate trends towards disintegration, have their origins outside Kenya and have been imported into Kenya by vested interests.

Promises of taking Kenya to the Biblical Canaan by opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga turned sour the moment Uhuru Kenyatta took a definite lead during August 8th election. Raila went on air at 2.30 p m to claim that the election were a monumental farud and “Uhuru must go home”. President are sent home by voters not their political opponents on losing election. The Canaan journey has now degenerated to a secession call in which Kenya would be mutilated on ethnic lines.

If we look back over the last 100 years and analyze our history, culture and heritage, the first thing that strikes us very forcibly is the underlying spirit of our fundamental unity in blending diversity in all times and ages. The concept of Kenya as a well-knit, composite and homogeneous entity, transcending all her external diversities is an eloquent theme that runs throughout our social fabric, especially in moments of national tragedy. Wanton destruction of property punctuated 2008 post election mass action is not anything a political leaders should be proud about.

During the post-independence era the newly won freedom played a pre-eminent role in fostering national and emotional integration. Nationhood occupied an enviable position as an agent of unity. The common devotion of the people to a new nation evoked affinity and sympathy for each other. Similarly , the concept of national motto Harambee served as a perennial , flame of inspiration to all Kenyans alike in accomplishing the task of uniting all people.

At the time of the early independence era Kenyan communities concerned became conscious of their common interest, they felt the need to compromise for the sake of looking after their common interest. What should have been nurtured without fail is national consciousness and not ethnic consciousness, because if ethnic consciousness is still strong then national consciousness will remain weak.

In the early years of independence barriers of tribes, race, language or region did not exist for any material purpose. Our National Anthem established unshakable pillars of Kenya’s emotional unity. It is clear that the evils of tribalism did not exist in the naked form those days as they do today. During the kleptocratic period of Moi’s quarter century rule, a new society appeared in Kenya with its distinct religion, customs and traditions – insatiable greed for money and material properties.

And yet it is also a fact of history that tribal forces flourished and they raised their ugly heads again and again to disrupt our country’s unity. These forces sapped the strength of our country and made Kenya weak and disunited. With the use of the English colonial laws the unity and understanding that had blossomed after independence were drastically weakened by certain forces that pursued kleptocracy. We all know full well how the British played the game of ‘divide and rule’.

They separated the Muslims in the coastal part of Kenya from the mainstream of national life and made them believe that they were distinct from the hinterland Africans. In northern frontier district (NFD) Somali community they created a wedge between other Kenyans described as madhu madhu (coarse hair). They pitched the English educated urban class against the rural masses. During his seat in power Moi enacted the British rule by banning so-called tribal associations but not those of the European and Asian populations.

But like the rebellion against the British rule a number of factors were of great help in national integration against dictatorship political uprising against Moi government and common cause of freedom of the country helped the growth of the nationalist multiparty movement in Kenya, which engendered an emotional fervor tending to strengthen the forces of national unity across tribes. It was a feat of extraordinary national unity that Kenyans won her multiparty political war.

Kenya is a land of very tolerant people, who believe in secular ideas. Tolerance, secularism and accommodation have been the most admirable characteristics of Kenyan culture. This explains the flowering and flourishing of all religions in our country side by side, without any interference or encroachment by one upon the other. In this true perspective of Kenya’s cultural heritage, the Constitution of Independent Kenya provided for a strong Central Government to keep the divisive and disintegrating forces under firm check.

The New Constitution further assures equality and security to all classes of persons regardless of their tribe, creed, religion, language, place of birth and domicile. It made Kenya a secular state, guaranteeing equal freedom to all its citizens to profess, practise and propagate their religions without any interference. Our Constitution recognised a number of other steps to be taken to promote national integration and also to check the tendencies that endangered the fundamental unity of the country.

A hard struggle lies ahead, for those who seek to integrate the huge population of impoverished poor and unfortunate Kenyans into the main body of Kenyan society. The ultimate solution for the pernicious and inhuman problem of ethnicity lies in the honest implementation of radical devolution reforms in the interests of wananchi which would eliminate all vestiges of feudalism, rapid poverty of both the urban and rural areas and spread of scientific education.

The extremely uneven economic development of the different regions of Kenya has created tensions and jealousy between the counties as to which should get priority in the matter of new projects and industries. These tensions have their origin in genuine grievances of the regions and counties that have been denied fair shares of projects and industries in the overall structure of development. The only way to do away with this imbalance in the development is to reduce and eliminate these disparities gradually.

Well-meaning leaders must recognize the importance of regional balance in economic development as a positive factor for promoting national integration. The rapid development of economically backward regions in any County should be given priority in national and County plans at least to the extent that a minimum level of development is reached for all counties within a stated period. While this problem is not only an eco- nomic one, there is no doubt that a rapid and balanced economic development calculated to wipe out regional disparities would go a long way towards promoting national integration.

Post Moi leadership has been fully aware of the need and urgency of national integration as well as the factors hindering the advance towards this goal. There should be no room for parochial, narrow-minded, tribal and ethnic-minded in county and national governments. These tendencies are petty attachments and great obstacles which stand in the way of national integration.

Kenya’s unity in the midst of diversity is not an option but a must. Above all corruption must be fought by all and its perpetrators punished without fear or favour. As Kenyans we must unite for our country or perish in NASA-driven 2o17 post election violence.

Devolution misconstrued as Regionalism or Majimbo will be another obstacle in the way of national integration Aggressive regionalism can gravely undermine the feeling of patriotic Kenyans who support one nation one people. It creates a parochial outlook and narrow-minded politics. It is primarily a socio-economic problem, related to removal of the obstacles in the development of the people seen through the agenda of what is described as marginalization.

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