GONE GLOBAL

Fruits of the handshake couldn't be sweeter

Raila had indicated that he would help Uhuru to secure the loan.

In Summary

• It has led to the fight against corruption and pushed the Big Four agenda, leading to progress and development.

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga
Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga

Something exciting and unprecedented is happening in Kenya. One would be hard-pressed to find a leader and an opposition leader in any nation stand together on so many issues of strategic, diplomatic and national importance.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta travelled to China last week, Opposition leader Raila Odinga was also there in his role as African Union's High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa. Uhuru was in China to seek a Sh368 billion loan for the extension of the standard gauge railway from Naivasha to Kisumu. The extension will help revive the Kisumu inland port, whose fortunes have dwindled due to the collapse of the dilapidated railway.

Raila had indicated that he would help Uhuru to secure the loan. So, in China, not only the hosts but leaders from dozens of countries got to witness the historic ‘handshake’ and its positive outcomes.

When President Kenyatta extended a hand of friendship to his erstwhile political enemy Raila, many Kenyans were confused while others were cynical. Many thought it was a public relations stunt or some political manoeuvre, with an eye on the next presidential election.

Nevertheless, it has led to the fight against corruption and pushed the Big Four agenda, leading to progress and development.

The violence, divisions and recriminations that followed the 2017 elections were proof that even a new Constitution is no guarantor for maintaining national unity and advancing the common good.

It has given hope that the bloodshed and divisions, which have wracked our nation, could become a thing of the past. It has shown us that our hands are better off grasping the hand of another rather than clenched into fists.

We hear from the international media about new political initiatives, parties and narratives. However, they are likely to be mere slogans rather than anything of substance.

We also sometimes hear about cross-party inclusion or solidarity on a particular project, or more likely in response to a natural disaster or in the face of a common enemy. The Kenyan model, however, has few, if any, precedents.

After every election is over, the winner has to sound magnanimous towards their defeated opponent and frequently mentions how now is the time to work together and sometimes there is an invitation to unite.

When President Kenyatta said these words in his victory speech, most of us thought it was the usual rhetoric. We did not expect the words to have substance and meaning, let alone a plan of action.

 

The Building Bridges Initiative team was mandated to conduct consultations with citizens, religious leaders, cultural leaders, the private sector and experts at the county and national levels and make practical recommendations and reform proposals to build lasting unity.

The violence, divisions and recriminations that followed the 2017 elections were proof that even a new Constitution is no guarantor for maintaining national unity and advancing the common good.

Building Bridges is now going international and Kenya will certainly be the stronger for it.

Uhuru has demonstrated that things can be done differently in Kenya and we its people are now reaping the benefits. The act of Uhuru connecting with Raila will now see our citizens better connected with each other, theoretically as well as practically.

Igembe North MP