One nation, united in hope
By: Zahid Rajan
I beg to differ. Amid all the pessimism in Kenya today I firmly believe that there is much to be hopeful about and that is what my message is centred on – HOPE. For 40 years since independence we have fervently hoped and been massively betrayed. But now there is change on the horizon – as Awaaz goes to press the Kenyan people have received an apology from KANU, unimaginable in the past! I HOPE that the democratic wing within KANU will triumph and offer new leadership to this country.
There are many positive developments that are happening. I strongly feel that the mainstream media should offer the Kenyan people a vision of HOPE rather than play to the gallery, appease political interests and sensationalise news.
- There is HOPE when the free primary education programme has become entrenched and has received support from the international community. Can you imagine what it means to have children going to school, even if it is only under a tree, rather than wandering at home aimlessly? For the first time we are seeing the prospect of an educated society, a fundamental requisite for economic prosperity.
- There is HOPE when the entire Kenyan nation is galvanized into looking after its own by contributing to the famine relief fund. Does it not say something when we can rise above petty politics and be self sufficient in a crisis time such as this? Already plans are being formulated to increase our agricultural potential, irrigation and investment in our arid regions are only two such projects. The Nile Treaty is being renegotiated. Much new forward planning needs to be done but a journey begins with a single step.
- There is HOPE when institutionalised torture and human rights violations have been outlawed. The press has never been more free – free to blow the whistle on government accesses and even suspicions of corruption.
- There is HOPE in the blossoming of the arts. We finally have a national dress, a rehabilitated national theatre and have brought home our prodigal son – Ngugi wa Thiongo. The explosion in print and electronic creativity is inspiring. I applaud Kwani? and Project Daddy – these are Kenyan products and we are setting our own standards.
- The proceedings at the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry are a landmark. The fact that this inquiry will actually reach a conclusion gives me HOPE that accountability is finally being institutionalised. The jailing of prominent personalities on corruption charges is encouraging. and it is heartening to see a minority figure jailed rather than be subjected to racist innuendos and be threatened with deportation.
- There is HOPE when the proposed NSHIF is subjected to public scrutiny and not just implemented with impunity.
- There is HOPE when parliamentarians and civil society can dialogue and argue about the constitutional crisis rather than resort to violence and turmoil.
- There is HOPE when there are concrete measures being taken to sort out the infrastructure and security problems that bedevil this country. At least we have a leadership and a government that care.
- Finally there is HOPE that this transitional government will set the foundation for the pluralistic society that we have struggled for so long.
Kenya is our country. Its successes and its failures are OURS. We will learn from our failures and build on our successes. We are UNBWOGABLE. I am proud to be Kenyan.