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October 17, 2018

We can re-emerge and reclaim our rightful place in the region Region’s economic, social and political hub

Emmerson Mnangagwa is sworn-in as Zimbabwe's president in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 24, 2017. /REUTERS
Emmerson Mnangagwa is sworn-in as Zimbabwe's president in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 24, 2017. /REUTERS

What a month! President Robert Mugabe is out. [Education CS Fred] “Matiang’i’s results” are out and [Chief Justice David] “Maraga’s verdict” is out and with it came the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta for his second term.

But what’s in it for me? The human being is a self-preserving and selfish creature, always seeking ways to gain maximum benefits, while exerting minimum effort and, in all this, ensuring their welfare and that of their kin is preserved. Granted, there may not be immediate or feasible benefits, but there are always takeaways – lessons we can learn.

The Zimbabweans’ revolt, the KCPE results and the Supreme Court ruling offer invaluable learning points summed up in three words: Resist. Re-imagine. Re-emerge.

After suffering for almost four decades, Zimbabweans had finally had it! A people can only take so much. It is said there’s no stopping an idea whose time has come. I beg to add that nothing and no one can stop a people who are fed up of authoritarian leadership; fed up of fraudulent plunder and impunity; fed up of unequitable distribution of resources; fed up of the ever increasing cost of living and decreasing job opportunities; fed up of basic quality social amenities such as free healthcare, free education, social security services, just to mention a few. When the possibility that this tyranny could be prolonged, Zimbabweans were left with no option but to resist!

I am uncertain about what took them so long to do so. One thing I, however, have no doubt about is that whereas it may seem long — and it may take a while — resistance cannot be wished away or subdued. Eventually, the voice of the masses will prevail. As the new Zimbabwean President Emerson Mnangagwa recently said, “The will of the people will always succeed”.

According to Education CS Matiang’i, this year’s KCPE had no incidences of cheating. This is no doubt a commendable achievement. I congratulate the Ministry of Education, the candidates, their parents and teachers for the successful completion of the exercise. It is refreshingly encouraging to hear how some of the candidates, especially those that have performed exceptionally well, are now reimagining themselves. They want to be psychiatrists and psychologist, ophthalmologists, astronauts, lawyers, engineers, and actuarial scientists.

They no longer see themselves as former candidates, or future Form One students — their vision is not only futuristic. It is bigger and optimistic. If only as Kenyans, at this point in time, despite our differences and disappointments, we could dare to re-imagine this country. If only we could synergise and align our efforts (and prayers) and re-imagine the kind of Kenya we want — one that is bigger, brighter more optimistic and inclusive. If only we all could re-imagine a Kenya, where each person matters and each vote counts. The eagerly awaited court’s decision was announced and although some have now ‘moved on’ many, especially law students and practitioners, are anxiously waiting to read the full ruling.

A major point of interest will be to see if it is consistent with the judgement of 2013. It is no secret that four of the seven judges in the Supreme Court today also presided over the 2013 ruling. It is also no secret what the opinion of the majority in the September ruling is.

I recently reread Richard Dowden’s Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. His chapter on Kenya entitled ‘Eating in Kenya’ paints a vivid picture of the political state of the country in 2007. He writes, “By election time in December 2007, Kenya was facing the perfect political storm…. the margin of victory was too thin. Cheating did make a difference to the result of Raila Odinga, the leader of the main opposition party, which won six out of eight provinces and the largest number of parliamentary seats, refused to concede defeat.”

He continues to describe the strife and fighting among the ethnic fiefdoms that characterised Kenya just after the election and concludes by stating, “Kenya will not be one country again for a long time. Kikuyu traders will not be setting up shop in Luo or Kalenjin areas in the future.”

As a country that went through the vagaries of post-election violence and is still reeling from some of its effects — we however cannot also overlook the fact that over the past 10 years we have made great strides to reconcile and rebuild our country. Just as we have made strides to re-emerge from post-election violence, we can and will do the same from the current political instability. To quote a line from the just released film Madiba, “When a country needs a Revolution, the Revolution finds a Father.” With the right leadership, Kenya can re-emerge and reclaim its rightful place as the region’s economic, social and political hub.



 The writer is Gem MP



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