Truth is, no government, starting from our very first under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, has come even close to doing its best to eradicate these problems.
Ask any well-informed ordinary Kenyan what Kenya’s woes are and the answer you’ll likely get is corruption, electoral violence, and an economy that only works for a few Kenyans.
These are, indeed, Kenya’s woes.
Ask anyone who has served in government in any significant position since Independence what it has done to redress these woes, and you’ll likely get something to the effect, “the best they could.”
Truth is, no government, starting from our very first under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, has come even close to doing its best to eradicate these problems. Not even retired President Mwai Kibaki, who is often credited for having the best functioning economy, a misplaced credit because his government failed in all other respects.
For his predecessor, the late Daniel Moi, the best one can say is 'let’s have his son, Gideon Moi, in the next government to atone for his father's 24-year rule'.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is doing his atonement already and if he gets his way as he should with the implementation of key aspects of BBI, then we’ll have come full circle as a country. We will begin where his father and other founding fathers put their mark as the future of the country.
Like a marker on an old road that has since been covered with shrubs such that no one can find it, the marker Mzee Kenyatta hoisted upon a soon to be newly independent Kenya in his historic speech as prime minister in June 1963 has long faded away.
Few saw Mzee’s speech on television, let alone live, but his voice and what he said thundered across every corner of the country.
For the benefit of those who were not around or have never heard or read the speech, below is nearly all the speech as transcribed from audio available online.
By way of background, Kenyatta was released from prison in 1961, after nearly nine years of imprisonment for being the leader of the Mau Mau, Kenya’s original freedom fighters. As expected, Kenyatta became president of Kenya African National Union (Kanu) and led the party to victory in the 1963 General Election upon which he became Kenya's first prime minister.
Kenyatta said his inauguration was not a celebration by one party at its election victory; rather, “it is the rejoicing of all the people of this lovely land at our progress toward the goal of independence.”
“As we celebrate,” Mzee offered, “let us remember, a constitutional advance is not the greatest in by itself; many of our people suffer in sickness, many are poor beyond endurance.”
The founding father then issued the clarion call: “We must work harder to fight our enemies, ignorance, sickness and poverty. I, therefore, give you the call of harambee!”
The enemies that have since been fought and altogether eliminated are real or perceived political enemies of those in power.
Ignorance is rampant today, even more than it was back in the 60s. Worse, it’s prominent among even the most educated.
Ditto sickness and poverty which is a permanent fixture among a vast majority.
It has been almost 57 years since Mzee Kenyatta made the clarion call to fight these maladies. However, their continued existence in even worse measures means everything that has been tried or not hasn't worked.
Time for a revolutionary solution and the solution is ripping the playbook in our bunker politics and thinking outside the box. This is exactly what President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga did in the now historic handshake.
BBI is the child of this handshake and has all we need to finally eliminate or beat back to unrecognisable these maladies and woes that have bedeviled the nation.
Anyone against this noble endeavor — as Deputy President William Ruto is — is for the continued existence of these maladies and woes.
We cannot and must not allow that to happen.
Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator