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Make UN Security Council seat count for all Kenyans

Kenya has inflated view of itself that was shown up in Djibouti tussle

In Summary

• Kenya really seemed to want it. So what next? Will it start adhering to its resolutions?

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, on September 26, 2018
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, on September 26, 2018
Image: REUTERS

When Kenya won its latest two-year term as a member of the UN Security Council, I posted the following on Twitter: "Congratulations. You really seemed to want it. So what next?"

I'm sure there is a plan, although with our government, you never know. 

What I want to know is whether Kenya will adopt and uphold all the Security Council resolutions on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions?

 
 
 

The UNSC has passed at least seven resolutions on the subject. However, in 2019, Kenyan police killed 107 people, according to a report by a coalition of Kenyan human rights groups.

According to the report, most of those killed were young men from informal settlements, or what we call slum areas.

The other resolutions we should uphold are the ones on sexual orientation and gender identity. There are three recent ones, from 2011, 2014 and 2016.

Before we were on board, we opposed the resolutions, but now that we are on the inside, surely we should implement all the rules at home? Or are we here at the behest and agenda of one of the permanent members?

Really if we are going to fight so hard to join this club, even temporarily, then we really should behave like willing converts to a new faith and take everything on board in our efforts to show we are more Catholic than the Pope.

Earlier, when we didn't win the first round with the overwhelming majority some had expected, Kenyans appeared surprised. I said then that the surprise was because we had swallowed our own hype about ourselves. 

We have this long-held jingoistic belief in the myth of Kenyan exceptionalism. As Kenyans, we have come to believe myths such as, “Kenya has the best beaches and game parks in the world, so tourists will always come.” 

 

In fact, we got about two million foreign visitors before Covid-19. Those numbers include people who transited through our international airports. Sounds decent. In fact, double the million tourists target set by former Tourism minister Maina Wanjigi in the 1980s. 

That's until you discover that in the same period in Cape Town, overall arrivals grew from 5.3 million in 2018 to 5.4 million in 2019, equating to an increase of 103,389 additional passengers passing through the Cape Town International Airport, which has been ranked the top airport in Africa. 

South Africa scored 16 million visitors altogether. Next to that Kenya's two million begins to look puny.

“We have the best long distance runners in the world. We will always take gold, silver and bronze in all the races from 1500m upwards.” 

Meanwhile, athletes realise other countries are willing to show them dollar value instead of sentimental value and you end up in a situation where at least seven foreign countries parade 20 Kenyan-origin runners in their teams at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

Other myths include, "The world needs Kenya as it is strategically placed." That worked during the Cold War. Thirty years later, our neighbourhood is different, as is the world. Heck, Djibouti took us on at the UN and nearly won! 

"Kenya is a continental hub for foreign media." All very well until they turn the focus on us, and then we get uncomfortable.

"JKIA is Africa's air transport hub." Hello, Bole International! 

"The Port of Mombasa is the best option for the region." And then Uganda and Rwanda start looking favourably at Tanzanian ports and railway links.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture, right? We're not exceptional and we need to start putting in some hard work in the areas we take for granted if we are to remain relevant. 

Edited by T Jalio