LAW CHANGE

BBI is key to right to happiness, critics want you to remain poor

Most Kenyans pursue this happiness and die without ever achieving it

In Summary

• The key to unlocking this happiness for all that has eluded us all these decades is nothing other than implementation of BBI.

• Those opposed just want you to remain poor and dependent on their pathetic handouts.

Audience at the Bomas of Kenya on October 26.
BBI CROWD: Audience at the Bomas of Kenya on October 26.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

The preamble to the Constitution states that “exercising our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance of our country” …”we adopt, enact and give this Constitution to ourselves and to our future generations."

As in much of the Constitution, the exercise of 'inalienable right' is a concept borrowed from the framers of the US Constitution.

The concept includes the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.".

The 2010 Constitution has enshrined the right to life and liberty but one cannot argue there has been marked  improvement in the realisation of these rights.

What has remained elusive for most Kenyans since Independence is the concept of pursuit of happiness.

Indeed, the concept was so utopian that the framers of our initial Constitution, and its revision in 2010, stayed clear of it by not including it as part of our supreme law.

If you ask them why, you probably will get the answer that the concept is embodied in the Bill of Rights. That’s only half the story.

Were that the case, one would argue that the Bill of Rights guarantees Kenyans the pursuit of happiness, without expressly stating so.

That being the case, it is also true that most Kenyans pursue this happiness and die without ever achieving it.

This is in violation of the Constitution that guarantees it, if the argument is that the Bill of Rights guarantees it without expressly stating so.

The converse cannot be true — the Constitution does not guarantee happiness to the citizenry.

The Constitution does and must not just guarantee happiness but the having and enjoying of t!

Sure, everyone’s definition of what happiness is may not be the same. Some people are content with just getting up breathing but those are few.

Most, if not nearly all of us, would define happiness as possession of material things that make living comfortable and enjoyable.

Put differently, that is saying we would define happiness as the absence of misery, pain or suffering of any kind, to include not being broke all the time.

By this measure, most have fallen short with the question being, whose fault is it?

Is the government obligated under the Constitution to ensure all Kenyans enjoy the happiness?

The answer is, of course, yes!

However, that does not mean the government delivers this happiness on a platter.

Rather, the government is obligated, first and foremost, to provide an economic and social environment where anyone who works hard is able to see the fruits of their labours by way of having a life filled with joy and happiness with the little they have.

On that measure, each government since independence has failed to deliver.

Some argue Kenya experienced economic prosperity during President Mwai Kibaki’s time, but this is illusory.

l may have inched up during Kibaki’s era, one can make a compelling case — correction, one can readily observe — that more Kenyans are doing proportionally worse than those living immediately post-Independence. Why?

I am no economist but my conclusion is prosperity in Kenya has become too intertwined with being in government or proximity to those who wield power.

If you are not working for the government, know or are related to someone in it, especially those in key positions, chances are you are living a difficult life unless you are one of a few in the private sector.

Even those with gainful employment in the private sector are struggling to make ends meet and can certainly not raise their hands among those who say they are enjoying life.

The key to unlocking this happiness for all that has eluded us all these decades is nothing other than implementation of BBI.

Those opposed just want you to remain poor and dependent on their pathetic handouts.

They must be rejected and ditto their backward political trickery.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator