True leaders owe us hope of creating a new Kenya
Published on February 28, 2008, 12:00 am
By Nancy Mburu
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight…
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
…When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Martin Luther King Jr may have delivered his famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech to fight for the emancipation of the Negro in 1963, but today, we can still draw lessons from it.
Just like King, I have a dream that it will no longer be business as usual. I have a dream that those to whom we have entrusted leadership will wake up from their slumber and start working.
A dream that we shall be free from the yoke of want and embrace full fundamental reforms resulting in a greater nation.
We are on the threshold of a new era in which we shall look at each other with renewed respect. For we know how close we came to losing each other. We attempted to destroy one another, but but we did not have the stomach for more horror. That is why we agreed to a ceasefire to give mediation a chance.
I have a dream that tomorrow, we shall sing a new song of triumph, after the realisation of our long cherished dream to have true leaders and equality for all.
The events that happened after December 30 took us to our lowest point. We witnessed death and destruction of a magnitude hitherto unseen in our 45 years of independence. We came to the verge of civil war, and God forbid it should ever come to this.
Martin Luther King was unfortunately murdered before his prophetic speech could be realised, but I know our dream will be actualised soon.
I have chosen to see possibilities where there are none. I have a strong feeling that we, the ordinary citizens, will benefit the most. This is why we have started to pick up the pieces as the peace talks continue. For we expect a concrete solution. Our fate cannot rest entirely with two individuals and their respective hardliners, who find it nearly impossible to agree. They could learn much from the Chinese proverb, “He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them”.
Beyond power sharing
We all know that what is going on at the Serena Hotel involves a delicate balance of numerous issues, not just the disputed election. Even as these men and women haggle and try to cobble a deal suitable to their respective sides, they must not lose sight of the real issues at hand. They must remember Mr Kofi Annan’s words that the negotiations go beyond sharing Government ministries. We are talking about a country here; that belongs to all of us.
These people have to come up with a deal that addresses issues that have been a thorn in our side. It is no about a political show of might, for that would be gambling with more innocent lives. Our leaders must remember the biblical verse that all things will pass away, except the word of God: They must leave a good mark in this world.
It is not about which political party or community reigns supreme, but about lasting systems that will serve our country for ages. For who knows whether tomorrow’s protagonists will be PNU and ODM? Society is dynamic and so is politics.
Back to my dream; I believe we getting there. Leaders have seen Kenyans mean business, so they had better get down to work. That is why we need a system of governance that offers checks and balances. No single political party should be left to govern the country. Power has to be shared, with some coming our way.
The principle of equal opportunity must be applied in toto. It is encouraging to see the Government publicly advertise jobs and publish names of short-listed candidates, in the spirit of fairness. It must do the same even for senior jobs, so the thousands of highly educated and experienced Kenyans can get a chance to render their exemplary services to the society.
I have a dream that there will be justice for all the innocent lives cruelly snuffed out in the post-election violence. Let not the deaths be in vain. Kenya has no room for warlords. If we previously underrated our importance to the continent and the rest of the world, now we know better. Our country is beautiful and precious. Only true leaders deserve to govern it.
This is what the men and women at Serena must realise. If they know what is at stake, then they do not have the luxury to walk out on the talks. This is the real test. Tantrums, double-speak and inflated egos have no room in the new Kenya. We cannot backslide. We need to hang in there.
—The writer is The Standard’s Chief Sub-Editor, Weekend Editions