BBI REPORT — GREAT LEAP FOWARD?

Azimio la Bomas: Is it really a fresh start for Kenya?

In Tanzania, Azimio was meant to ensure the government mobilises resources to eliminatepoverty, ignorance and disease

In Summary

• The BBI has constructed several bridges. As one professor said, bridges are necessary when you want to cross from one end of the river or ridge to another.

•  The 'Building Bridges to a United Kenya' report said we need to move forward from 'blood ties' to real independence and further to a 'nation of ideals'.

Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi, Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga and BBI task force chairman Senator Yusuf Haji during the BBI report launch at Bomas of Kenya on November 27.
GREAT LEAP FORWARD? Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi, Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga and BBI task force chairman Senator Yusuf Haji during the BBI report launch at Bomas of Kenya on November 27.
Image: COURTESY

The media encapsulated it. Kenya ,  all. Kenya has started, yet again.

Social and traditional media were caught in the bluff. The 'Building Bridges to a United Kenya' report summarised that we need to move forward from 'blood ties' to real independence and further to a 'nation of ideals'. The rest, as they say, is history.

Azimio means declaration and Bomas is the colloquial expression of homes that Kenyans have made over the last century to ensure, as a people, we remain focused on real and true friends.

 

The episodes were galore. From the Frenchman, René Dumont, in the book False Start in Africa, there are lessons to learn. The first chapter, and the first sentence has a question. Did Africa have a false start? He says,“Africa never started at all.”

AZIMIO LA BOMAS

In Tanzania, the Azimio la Arusha meant the country started afresh. The country was represented at the Azimio la Bomas by President Pombe Magufuli's special envoy Palamagamba Kabudi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Azimio was a policy on socialism and self-reliance (from 1967 onwards), referred to as the Arusha Declaration and is known as Tanzania’s most prominent political statement.

The seven-point statement about human dignity, fundamental freedoms, socio-economic justice, among other related principles was to ensure wananchi enjoy  the privileges of life.

Further, that the State (read, government) must intervene or interfere where justice is not served by the private sector, especially where there is exploitation of labour.

The Azimio also meant the following: To consolidate and maintain the independence of Tanzania and the freedom of its people; to safeguard the inherent dignity of the individual in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; to ensure the country is governed by a democratic socialist government of the people; and to cooperate with all the political parties in Africa  in the liberation of all Africa.

 

In addition, the Azimio was meant to ensure the government mobilises the country's resources to eliminate poverty, ignorance and disease  (remember Jomo Kenyatta's clarion call at Kenya’s independence): to see that the government actively assists in the formation and maintenance of cooperative societies or organisations; and  wherever possible, the government directly participates in economic development.

BUILDING WHAT BRIDGES

The BBI has constructed several bridges. As one professor said, bridges are necessary when you want to cross from one end of the river or ridge to another. The BBI report, as ably stated in the cover, means we must overcome blood ties to a “nation of ideals”. The ideals, so-called principles and values of governance, are contained in the Constitution, Article 10.

As already encapsulated in the Star, bridges must of necessity mean we know: a) what the bridges are; b) their location; c) the weight they can handle; d) the length of time that Kenyans need to travel on those bridges: and finally, e), what is on the other side.

The BBI has already summarised what the bridges are: To begin with, we must be guided by national ideals. Second, we do not have enough time to waste as Kenya is sitting at an apocalypse. Third, we have ignored the youth for far too long, since we’ve been shuffling deadwood in our politics and economic governance. Fourth, we have failed to trust institutions: Even the BBI report was doubted even before it was written.

Further, the disrespect for the rule of law is widespread. We injure and kill people with widespread abandon. That is why some of our leaders were charged at the ICC for crimes against humanity. Sixth, most Kenyans think about the present, not tomorrow. Our development plans are only five years only, yet some countries in the world have 50-year plans.

Our ability to develop talents is jinxed by the very officials charged to develop them. Peter Tabichi is a foreign name to many Kenyans yet he won the Global Teachers’ Prize. The effervescent Eliud Kipchoge won the INEOS challenge. Many more Kenyans are innovating and creating new products such as M-Pesa and many other industrial products.

ETHOS ARE ZERO

Our families are failing to develop the country courtesy of deadbeat fathers or mothers.  Levels of indiscipline among children and the parentage responsibilities are waning. Whereas Kenyans are regarded as mostly religious and cultural, the ties that bind have fallen asunder. In the words of Chinua Achebe, things have fallen apart.  

The BBI task force, mentioned something obvious. That we need to decide what cake we need to divide. And more importantly, bake a bigger cake. As I have argued elsewhere, Kenya is not a national cake, but a national bakery. We need to roll up our sleeves and get into the kitchen and bake more cake. Those elected into office should not at all try and divide a proverbial cake, but bake a bigger one.

Public service must, therefore, become more accountable to the people. We cannot have, as the Ndegwa Commission proposed in the 1970s, that public servants work in government, and then in between those sessions, do businesses. When public servants are sworn to serve, they must do so diligently, and not leave their coats on the chairs, doing other monkey businesses of their own.

Matters of persons living with disabilities, despite provisions of the Articles 55 and 260 of the Constitution, still remain elusive. We are fully aware that either you were born with a disability or an illness or accident causes the same, and therefore the BBI took serious notice of our ignorance of these people. They should be served with equal dignity as human beings.

Most historical injustices have been swept under the carpet. Kenya is at a loss of how to ensure justice prevails. The BBI task force was uniquely aware of this and drafted the report to ensure Kenyans remain united to resolve these injustices. Many victims and survivors pervade our country and until we deal with the past, there is no way to deal with the present and the future.

SECURITY FOR ALL

Insecurity, as depicted in the financial, personal, digital and physical spheres, continue to pervade all Kenyans, and therefore the BBI committee could not ignore the same. There are too many homicides, femicides, and suicides. Children's abuse of all forms remains present on the news every day. 

The youth are affected by drugs. Kenya is both a transit and recipient country of all manner of drugs. Kenyans feel generally insecure. The police service, and all other security agencies, are a problem to the Kenyan people rather than a solution.

Insofar as BBI team is concerned, the “problem of Kenyans is not in the hardware but the software”. Rightly so. We have played victims yet we were the actual perpetrators.  Looking at Mahmoud Mamdani book on When Victims Become Killers, written within the context of Sudan and South Sudan, Kenyans have either become perpetual victims or perpetrators. There is no difference.

Leadership failure is permanent. There is no real leader; only politicians. As Fr Mathew Kukah once asserted, Africa leadership crisis is constant like the factor of physics termed . Kenya’s leadership crises despite express provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution is constant. We have elected or appointed thieves, charlatans, thugs, and crooks into public office. As far as Noah Webster argued, it is us as citizens who are responsible for the leadership we have.  

As Franz Fanon once argued, we are responsible for the failing State. The affairs of Kenya, whether through BBI or any other form of expression, are pre-determined by our very actions and inactions. As the BBI summarises, we need to have a local, regional and national conversation within our churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship for God has not and will never forsake us. It is us who forgot that we are all children of God.

Kenyans should and must read its contents, as this commentator is doing. There is no heaven in what they propose. There is no hell either. It is important and urgent that all Kenyans read this report. I will not read on your behalf and you will not read on my behalf, as President Uhuru and Raila Odinga indicated. READ. Period.

TOM KAGWE, J.P. is a political scientist.

DISCLAIMER: The views contained herein are those of the author and do not reflect any institutional affiliation, past or present, and are unsolicited from any quarter, political or otherwise.