Monday, March 23, 2009

Leadership - Kenya's Problem or the Problem's most obvious manifestation??

As promised - here's Sakaja's very thought provoking note on Leadership in Kenya.

We think we know the problem that ails Kenya – we have defined it as leadership - but is that really the problem? 
Is our problem leadership or is Leadership the most visible manifestation of the Kenyan problem? If one is suffering from flu and a terrible cough, cutting off your nose will not rid your body of flu. Your nose might look like the problem but it is just the manifestation of a bigger problem in your chest, lungs and body. We must examine ourselves and redefine the problem that Kenya faces – a problem whose most obvious manifestation is its leadership – the nose. Our problem begins with our individual and societal value system. That it is ok to look for shortcuts in traffic and inconvenience others but it is not ok when politicians look for shortcuts when seeking high office is an oxymoron. That a young man from Kikuyuland is regarded a villain when he hurts Kamau from the next village but is crowned a village hero when he slays Kibet in a cattle raid (and vice versa of course) is ironical. That we allow ourselves to bribe the police to avoid a cash bail, bribe the headmistress to get form one admission yet cry the loudest when politicians receive bribes and steal maize is hypocritical. That we cringe at the thought of our cousins getting married to “that” community but are the first to demonstrate on account of tribal appointments to government. It is easy for us to blame the most palpable suspects – the politicians but the problem begins with us. After all, a community of 10,000 thieves will most likely elect the most influential thief to lead them. It is foolhardy to expect the young class 6 boy, Georgy, who elbows all the weaklings in the lunch line at Kamkunji Primary School to respect other motorists 15 years down the line when he buys a car. It is an insult to your own intelligence to expect Georgy who later bribes a policeman when he is caught flouting traffic rules to refuse a bribe when he becomes Minister of Finance. Corruption, selfishness, greed, tribalism, political sychophancy, dishonesty; all these begin with individuals.
So how do we change this? How can we change Kenya? Where will this change come from?
Change will not come from Nairobi, change will not come from the comfortable board rooms and behind the desks of your offices, change will not come from your school cafeterias or from the heated discussions in our churches and local bars; change will not come from Louis Otieno live or from P.L.O. Lumumba’s eloquent rhetoric. 
No; those are just but rumours of change. The idea of change will come from the depths of our conscience translated into our everyday actions. This change will begin when we stop looking outside ourselves and begin to re-examine in ourselves that which we criticize in others. Change will happen when likeminded and forward thinking Kenyans look deep into themselves then inspire others to make a change that they already are making.Corruption, selfishness, greed, tribalism, political sychophancy, dishonesty; all these begin with individuals. If we do not reform and change the individuals we cannot change or reform the country. If I don’t change – Kenya will not. No change will not come from the top. I hold that change; true change will come when we like Nehemiah of the bible understand the problem facing our country then go back to rebuild. We must rebuild. Change will come when these forward thinking, likeminded patriots GO BACK HOME AND REBUILD. Recently, speaking to a few young professionals from Makueni, a district faced with starvation, I realized that they knew very well what needs to be done to alleviate the famine situation in Makueni and create wealth. They had excellent ideas and solutions and knew the problems faced in their shagz. The only problem is that their ideas and solutions remain as ideas and solutions discussed over coffee at Java or cocktails at Mwenda’s. The solutions for Makueni are however not the same as the solutions for Kwale or the solutions for Mukurweini or Ikholomani. Professionals from Isiolo know the problems faced back at home and know the solutions. They know the kind and breed of leaders who will change Isiolo. We must go back to our areas of original extraction, back to the villages and towns and tell the people that it is time to rebuild. We must inform and educate those who look up to us in these villages on the true values of leadership and patriotism. We must let our minds be re-taught. We must inspire our different spheres of influence. We must equip them to make a change in their lives and give them the ability to identify and chose leaders wisely. We must aggressively educate our people on the values of good leadership. We must then enable them to create their own wealth and feed themselves. Change will not happen on hungry stomachs. It will not. We must give them hope – empower them so that their 5 and 10year long visions of prosperity will not be clouded by the sight of their hungry 5 and 10year old children. If this happens simultaneously in all 8 provinces, all 210 constituencies, in all the 71 districts (and the 37 more newly created districts) and in all 27,895 polling divisions of our beloved country, then we will start to see real change. We will start to see a true and sustainable revolution. A revolution that cannot be stopped. An empowered people going against the status quo that aspires to keep them poor and buy them cheap. We will begin to see a people who are not voting simply because they need the 200shillings handed out to them – but we will see an empowered generation of Kenyans convicted that it is time to take the destiny of the country into their hands. Change will not begin in 2012 – 2012 will be the climax of the change that will already have begun. We as the middle and upper middle class, we as the educated owe this to history, we owe this to the future generations. It is the responsibility of our generation; a great patriotic responsibility to our beloved land. We must start this NOW. This change, change that will be inspired and driven by passion, designed by the limitless creativity of this generation, anchored on integrity and founded on patriotism and love for our country is imminent. Kenya will never be the same again. 

1 comment:

A dogs life in Africa said...

I don't agree, Kenyans including (most of)our leaders behave when they are in other countries. Why? Because its socially not acceptable to be lecherous, to bribe police, to be nepotistic....the rules are upheld due to social norms, re-enforced by regulations. The public in Kenya give bribes and are corrupt not only because it's socially accepted, but because our leaders do it, get rich by it, and get away with it. The rot has to stop from the top.