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VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS

WILLY MUTUNGA: Sermon to young and the young in spirit: Be voices of Kenya

We have our truths about what ails our country. We have solutions to problems that bedevil our country

In Summary

• We are clear about the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution and we know how we can build on those strengths and how to rescue those weaknesses

• We place the responsibility of this transformation on the shoulders of our youth and women who will move these voices to centre, in the medium term.

“Instead of being mired in seeking solutions within confines of the current neoliberal system, African youth must have bold dreams and think in terms of fundamental transformation. That was the vision of the radicals of the earlier era, and it is a vision that the youth of today must adopt…The technological capacity to resolve all the critical problems facing humanity have been present at least for half century. But it is the strange-hold of the rich and the powerful classes and nations over the state, politics, media, thought process that have prevented that capacity being utilized.” Karim Hirji, Under-Education in Africa: From colonialism to neoliberalism (Montreal: Daraja Press, 2019) 241. 

VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS 

We are reading from Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4 and John 1.23. These verses narrate the prophesy of Isaiah that is resurrected by John the Baptist or John the son of Zachariah about a voice of one calling in the wilderness, the voice of Jesus Christ.

We know of the ministry of Jesus Christ, a mission of transformation and revolution, a ministry of class struggles (Romans, Scribes and Pharisees and the working classes in Palestine). The emphasis on that lone voice in the wilderness is about a message that is at the beginning in the minority because it is the truth.

Truth resides in the margins and it invariably moves to the centre. Prophets tell us the Truths we do not want to hear: truths about evil, goodness, humanity, progress, regression, transformation, revolution, and the creation of humane, just, free, and prosperous societies. Prophets are prosecuted, killed, exiled, reviled and glorified in equal measure.

We normally hear these sermons in the abstract because the timorous souled women and men of God who preach them do not want them to be related to what happens in the here and now. They rarely relate sermons to the state of the nation and politics that I discuss below. I will not continue that tradition. I will start a new one when every sermon must be related to ills that sicken our motherland.

STATE OF THE NATION AND POLITICS

I believe we now have a clear picture of political formations in the country. The elite factions have occupied the political space through the political narratives that have dominated Kenya for the last 59 years.

Those narratives have the following ingredients: the politics of division devoid of issues, plunder and wastage of our resources, corruption, enslaving sovereign debts, un-patriotism, deaths, torture, extra-judicial police killings, patriarchy, marginalisation of the youth and women, in a word a motherland that is not free, just, equitable, ecologically safe, gender just, non-sexist, non-ethnic, non-racial, egalitarian, equitable, and prosperous.

The agents of foreign interests that are dominating, oppressing, and exploiting our country are inhumanly housed in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza coalitions.

These coalitions are hallmarks of inhumanity, although the elite have espoused an opportunist, “lesser evil” narrative so as to rationalise OKA’s joining one of these factions.

The elitist narrative has always been resisted since independence by various social movements and political parties: the KPU in the 1960s; the Second Liberation in the 1990s, and the constitution-making movements that started in the 1960s.

I am calling upon the young and the young in spirit in Kenya to be voices in the wilderness we call Kenya.

WHY MUST THERE BE VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS?

Why are Voices in the Wilderness necessary, now?

We have our truths about what ails our country. We have solutions to problems that bedevil our country. We have intellectual, ideological, and political positions for changing this country in our manifestos. We have political parties that are ready to contest for political power on the basis of a transformational agenda. We believe that 2022 is a great opportunity to expose the decadence of the elite narratives and to consolidate our voices in the wilderness.

We are clear about the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution and we know how we can build on those strengths and how to rescue those weaknesses, going forward.

We place the responsibility of this transformation on the shoulders of our youth and women who will move these voices to centre, in the medium term.

We believe the elite factions are vulnerable to concerted and consistent critique, particularly after August 9. We are, indeed, the prophets that will warn Kenyans of the dangers of the status quo that does not address their material needs in any meaningful way. We will launch a movement that will be the sovereign voice of the Kenyan people, after the elections. We will call a convention before the end of the year to consolidate this movement.

 

WE ARE IN FOURTH LIBERATION OF OUR MOTHERLAND 

The First Liberation came at Independence; the second was the restoration of multipartism; the third was the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution; the fourth is the current struggle to implement that Constitution fully. This cannot be done by the elitist formations we have at present.

We are the voices of the alternative leadership that can achieve that task and usher in the fifth liberation, which will be about a vision of a society that has rescued the weaknesses of the 2010 Constitution.

It is only we who can envision such a society because it is we who are to be the “voices in the wilderness.” 

Dr Willy Mutunga is a former chief justice. The views expressed are entirely personal.

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