Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Intellectuals should be catalysts for change in the Country

I concur with the views expressed by Professor Mutua Makau in the Sunday Nation dated 13th June. His objective arguments are an inspiration to many of us in the Diaspora.

Unlike many Kenyan Scholars abroad who have either decided to remain mum or developed disinterest in the remaking of our nation, Professor Makau has stayed a float on issues that bedevil our nation; arguing objectively without bias while providing tangible solutions on the way forward for our motherland.

Personally, I’m proud of Professor Makau’s portrayal of leadership where he has persistently injected, concrete and tangible ideas from the Diaspora to Kenya’s mass media. I find his arguments especially on the proposed constitution fair and balanced. In his Sunday Nation column, he captured the feelings of the nation on the need for politicians to desist from pursuing egocentric ethnic interests that are detrimental to the unity and cohesiveness of the nation.

To second his views, I could like to remind the Kalenjin community that honourable Ruto and former president Moi are misleading them by keeping them at ransom thereby isolating them from the rest of country on national decisions. They two have proved to Kenyans that they love to thrive on controversy in order to stay afloat politically.

Kenya is a diverse nation and what hurts one community hurts all. That is why the impact from the post election violence of 2008 affected the entire nation despite not touching all the 42 communities in Kenya.
Watching quietly when politicians are using the referendum campaign to set the nation on fire will be more tragic for Kenya.

We want damage control before we degenerate to the abyss of 2008. What happened at Uhuru Park on Sunday is a sign of bad things to come unless the government moves decisively to unravel the truth on those who committed the heinous crime.

In fact, there is no provision in the proposed constitution where certain groups, social classes, individuals or communities will be targeted and deprived off certain right and privileges. Furthermore, there is no provision that legalizes homosexuality the way those in the no camp appears to argue.

Our Country is in the process of healing and reconciliation. This is the time we want to hear the voices of the top cream of our Society the way Professor Makau has always done so that their ideas and knowledge can be harnessed to keep our country moving.

Therefore, I challenge Scholars in the Diaspora especially the famous ones like Professors Ngugi Wathiongo, and Ali Mazrui to join Professor Mutua Makau’s league as catalysts for change. Their intellectual prowess is needed in the wonderful debate currently going on over a new constitution that will pave the way for Kenya’s rebirth.

It’s useless to climb the academic ladder and fail to give direction on issues that matter for the nation. In fact, the quest for knowledge is to acquire skills, knowledge and expertise that will help society in times of a crisis. I cringe with disgust each time I read Mutahi Ngunyi one of Kenya’s intellectuals in his Sunday Nation column. He sounds like someone whose intellectual prowess is either getting drained or reasons like an ordinary citizen. While he has a democratic right to take a position in the proposed law, his views are myopic, ambiguous and cannot shape our national destiny. He always duels on medieval generalities with no exit strategy on national predicaments.

Those accessing the mass media should ensure that their views are objective and in tandem with the substance that will hold Kenya together. Many of us have read the proposed law and concluded that it contains excellent provisions that will nurture equality and equity, freedom and justice as well as building a culture of fair governance systems and processes for the benefit of the entire nation. May our intellectuals join the club?
Joseph Lister Nyaringo

Sunday, June 13, 2010

South Mugirango, cast your vote with your conviction

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA

The people of South Mugirango should avoid being dragged into succession and referendum politics when they go to the polls in June to elect their next leader after the nullification of the election of the then MP and Trade assistant minister Omingo Magara.

Voters must focus on the qualities of the candidates before they cast their votes and not be swayed by the charged political climate in the Country. After all, they’re electing an MP to address the myriad problems they face in the grassroots and not the President of the Republic of Kenya.

Although clan politics often takes centre stage during elections in Gusiiland, it’s imperative for the voters to disregard it because it has thwarted civil unity in the Community. Voters should remember irrespective of whether a candidate is Omosinange, Omogetenga or Omotabori; they are all citizens of Kenya, and have to be voted based on their values and character.

The MP should be a person who will articulate the people’s interests, aspirations, as well as standing up for the common good of the Abagusii and the entire nation. He or she must be a leader with the desire for public service especially being well versed with challenges that face the constituency. He must be ready to lift the standard of education, infrastructure, agriculture as well as fighting to scale down the consumption of illicit brews that has ruined the lives of young people.

Being induced by cash handouts to influence one’s vote has continued to rob the Abagusii community off good leaders. Many aspirants for leadership are often given a blackout during elections not because they lack leadership qualities but because they don’t bribe the voters. Voters must remember that a one time cash or material inducement cannot change one’s life, community or nation.

Leaders with presidential ambitions who want to capitalize on the national hype that has characterized South Mugirango by elections must be reminded that theirs is not about the love for the constituents but a selfish maneuver to expand their political network through the former ODM party Treasurer, who is defending the seat on a different ticket.

Honourables Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and the Vice President want to use South Mugirango as a specimen in a chemical lab to settle political scores to a well known opponent in their quest for the Presidency. I urge the people to reject this external pressure by casting their votes wisely with their conscience and conviction.

Any acts of lawlessness from the voters during the campaigns despite being treated with the theatrics of a referendum must be avoided. The voters must uphold a democratic culture that accommodates campaign issues and ideas from all candidates in order to make informed choices. It will be unfair to hurt, insult, curse or provoke some one just because of supporting a different candidate.

The people are not looking for an omniscient Member of Parliament, but some one who is down to earth and who will listen to their day to day challenges by providing workable remedies with humbleness and humility all tamped with honest, integrity, selflessness and human love.

The MP should be a person who will conduct the affairs of the constituency with transparency and accountability while upholding servant leadership through dedication, hard work and commitment.

If South Mugirango constituents will adhere to the above when they will go to the polls, they stand a good chance of electing a good MP. These should also apply to other constituencies with impending by elections like, Matuga and Juja.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kenya not out of the woods yet even with a good constitution without a leader

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey USA
The proposed constitution is likely to pass in the referendum despite the raging debate between the protagonists and antagonists and thereafter, Kenyans will start focusing on a leader who will apply the new law to transform and restore our Country’s governance systems and processes.
As a nation, we are smelling justice, equality, equity, freedom, devolution, a fair justice system and other wonderful provisions enshrined in the proposed law but the sum total of any bureaucracy whether in business or government always requires a superb leader to ensure its success.
Currently, many Kenyans are stricken by poverty; living from hand to mouth. The landless can’t afford even a graveyard. Quite often, in rural Kenya, a young girl is raped and the culprit perambulates lackadaisically in the village while the victim wriggles in pain with no justice.
A farmer in Nyamache District delivering tea to a buying centre is robbed off his kilos by a corrupt tea clerk. If this happens in the grassroots, what about at the top where we have entrusted leaders with responsibilities of managing our taxes which are in a tune of Billions of Kshs?
Our exchequer has been looted since independence and the culprits walks freely among us. Many of these corrupt individuals have stashed the loot to foreign banks when many Kenyans are living under a dollar a day. Others have undergone a spiritual transformation- fooling Kenyans by preaching as well as leading political parties. What a phony way to fool Kenyans?
The corrupt of yesteryears are the ardent critics of the proposed constitution; fearing that its passage will unravel their past inequities and bring them to justice when it’s implemented. Therefore, our key focus should be how the new constitution will be harnessed to address the past and present predicaments that continue to bedevil our nation.
The President who will take over from Kibaki under the new constitution will determine whether we shall float and swim as a nation or sink and drown. He must be a person with a willing spirit and excellent track record to use the “new bureaucracy” to lift our nation from the current abyss. He must also be willing to defend and protect it for our national good ands not betray it the way others have done since independence.
Remember, liberation from colonialism was received with a sigh of relief but it never relieved Kenyans. The hurrah and jubilation that will accompany the passage of the new constitution will not be enough in itself. It will carry more meaning when Kenyans shall elect a leader who will not turn into a world dog to maul the nation but use the new law to transform and restore our broken governance systems. After all, a constitution is just a mere book in black and white.
We have experienced betrayal after betrayal of the constitution form many decades done by the Presaident Kenya has had. The first president Kenyatta betrayed Kenyans when he immediately took the mantle of leadership and started acting against the spirit of the independence struggle. Former President Moi started well but underwent a complete metamorphosis; he killed dissent by changing the constitution, which turned Kenya into a one party state.
Although he agreed to change section (2a) after a lot pressure from human rights advocates and the International community that paved the way for the reintroduction of multiparty democracy, he still betrayed Kenyans by failing to provide a level playing field for multiparty democracy to suffice in the Country. Further to this, he rigged himself into power in the first multiparty elections of 1992 using state machinery like police, civil service and the provincial administration.
When Kibaki took over in 2003, he vowed to defend and protect the constitution and promised the country a new one after 100 days. Did he deliver it? Instead, he perfected political cronyism, corruption, betrayal and tribalism that he inherited from his successor. Even though he supports the current proposed constitution, he has violated the current one several times. The most tragic scenario, he was sworn in 2008 despite mysteries over his election victory.

Our “governance manual” is likely to change in August this year but we must be ready to elect person who will use the new manual to transform and restore our nation in the economic sphere, social sphere and political sphere, when elections are called. The person must be change minded and having the problems of Kenyans at heart.
A good example is Barrack Obama, who had the problems of millions of Americans without health care Insurance and after being elected president, he moved with a stratagem that caught his opponents off guard, when his administration passed the healthcare bill that was a hard nut to crack by many former US Presidents.
This is the spirit we expect from those who want to take the Country’s leadership under the new constitution. Otherwise, with Moi, Kibaki or Kenyatta’s replica in State House, it will be a tragedy for the nation even with a perfect constitution.