Monday, November 26, 2012


By Joseph Lister Nyaringo

When we passed the new constitution in 2010, majority of Kenyans welcomed the new dawn with optimism; believing that it will help to catalyse reforms in order to transform the country’s social, political and economic spheres. We have a critical role to play by taking advantage of the provisions in the new constitution to nurture a good society through changing the way we conduct ourselves daily in our society.

 Remember, all mistakes we make whether big or small contributes to national decay. Therefore, over-dependence on political leaders as the only hope to fixing the challenges we face as a country is far-fetched. This is because; the foundation of national success is dependent upon a values-driven approach by the citizenry. It’s also pegged on how we conduct ourselves in our private and public lives.

 What is conceived in our mindset and thought process defines the decisions we make in life. According to Gautama Buddha, the ancient spiritual teacher of Buddhism, what we think, we become. A corrupt mind will compel us to be corrupt, while an evil mind will lead us to do evil. It takes a willing mind to walk away from tribalism, nepotism, violence, molestation, theft, dishonesty and bribery if we think broadly the negative impact the said vices bring to society.

 Most challenges facing our nation are as a result of poor leadership and incompetency amongst public servants. They have failed to adhere to the ethical principles of duty. We read about moral uprightness but this will not change us unless we’re ready to observe, preserve and apply ethical values in our everyday lives.

This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect because, I’m also struggling to ensure that my life is grounded on values, character, integrity, honesty and truth. In fact, I understand the critical importance of these moral tenets.

That is why I decided to share my thinking. According to a US philosopher Ralph Emerson, you sow a thought and reap an action; sow an act and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny. Our net worth to society is centred on what remains after we have replaced the bad habits with good ones.

Therefore, the destiny of our society is pegged on actions, thoughts, habits and character of every citizen irrespective of their standing in society. If we plant hatred, tribalism, greed, envy and strife, we reap the same. We can make choices, whether we become good trees which bear good fruits or vice versa. We can shape a good Kenya if we plant peace, harmony, love and treating others with dignity and respect, fraternity and brotherhood.

 Corruption is corruption whether it’s Anglo Leasing, Goldenberg, stealing your neighbour’s chicken or Price gouging by unscrupulous business people. The sum total of it all is corruption, and doom to our beloved country. Vendors of substandard or underweight products are devoid of ethics and what they do is hurting the whole Country.

The officers in charge of standardization at the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS) are remunerated well and Kenyans expects them to do a thorough job to protect them. They need to ensure that all substandard imports ranging from drugs, food stuffs and electronics are inspected before they are cleared into the Kenyan market.

 The faster we nurture the principles of probity and values, the higher the chances of being able to see fairness, justice, equality and equity in the Country. Honesty and truthfulness don’t hurt. If you find someone’s lost wallet, it’s unethical to ransack its contents.

Keep it safe as the owner may emerge. Do to others what you expect them to do you. I recently forgot my cell phone in a restaurant and making a follow-up the following day, I discovered that an honest person in the restaurant picked it from where I left it and handed it to the manager.

What does not belong to you is not yours. We don’t need religion to learn this. If we expected our President, MP or Governor to operate with honesty and integrity, we need to remember that as citizens, we have a cardinal responsibility to act the same way.

 As we strides toward elections, we need to elect people who with values and a passion to serve. They must also put the interests of the nation above theirs. Those with dubious records and who use tribe, clan, family leanings and money to entice voters should be rejected at the ballot boot.

 Offering a job to a friend without qualifications merely because of sharing a similar dialect is a negation of meritocracy, ruining service delivery, and promoting nepotism and corruption in the Country. You find a farmer bribing a clerk at a Tea buying centre for more kilos in order to fetch a higher bonus payment. In fact, the Tea clerk steals the kilos from other farmers.

 Is there any justification for the bribing farmer to complain about corruption in the national radar when he or she is involved in corrupt acts? Even the tea clerk is not justified to demand for better remuneration from the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA). We always blame traffic officers for corruption on the highways and forget the fact that Matatu operators are purveyors of the same.

The operators are used to bribery to the extent that, even if the vehicle involved is direct from the showroom, they will still hand money to the officers on a road block. Who is to blame here? If a vehicle is roadworthy, and a traffic officer demands a bribe, the driver should decline, and demand a charge sheet to appear in court and prove the vehicle’s road-worthiness.

We need to be patient and avoid cutting corners which deny us justice. Compatriots, let us wear the wrist watch of honest and drill in character and values. Let us nurture a positive culture in conducting all affairs which affect our lives.

This is the surest way to make Kenya a haven for prosperity for all.
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