Kenyans of every creed assemble regularly in religious houses and on bended knee and in solemn supplication commune with their Maker. And there could never be a more solemn petition than the opening words of Kenya’s national anthem.
The fabric of our society is dyed in faith and religion, a testament of unsullied ethical or moral tendency. At this point I am reminded of the story Jesus told about a man who fell among thieves on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was beaten, stripped and left half-dead. A priest and Levite happened to walk by and saw the man lying half dead but they did not stop to help him.
A Samaritan came by on his animal. He stopped and poured oil and wine and dressed the man’s wounds. He put the man on his animal and took him to an inn. He paid for his upkeep and asked the innkeeper to look after the man and he would settle accounts on his return.
Jesus told this parable in response to a teacher of the Law who asked him “who is my neighbour?” I would like us to consider a different question; who is a Kenyan citizen? To respond to this question, I would like to share a story with you.
In 2014-15, the Aga Khan University conducted a survey about 1,900 Kenyans aged between 18 and 35. Fifty per cent believed it does not matter how one makes money as long as one does not end up in jail. About 73 were afraid to stand up for what is right for fear of retribution. Another 47 per cent admired those who make money by hook or crook.
About 30 per cent believed corruption was profitable and another 35 per cent said they would take or give a bribe. Only 40 per cent thought it was important to pay taxes. On political participation, 40 per cent said they would only vote for a candidate who bribed them.
About the future, 40 per cent believed our society will be more corrupt, and 30 per cent believed the country would be poorer in ethics and we would see a surge in substance abuse.
If this is how the youth of this country think and would act, the future is in peril. I don’t know about you but these statistics paint in my mind a picture of a society that has been assaulted, stripped, is bleeding and left morally half-dead.
In response to the state of our country, many of us have chosen to act like the priest and the Levite. Consumed by our own busy lives and a lack of courage to stand up for what is right, we choose to walk by on the other side.
This dark moment of grave ethical and moral crisis summons all of us to stand up and live up to the true meaning of citizenship. Citizenship is like being the good Samaritan. We must get engaged in the inconvenient task of attending to the urgent issues that confront our society.