It is difficult to imagine a situation worse than the one Kenya is in today. There is the threat to life and property due to terrorism, our security organs seem clueless, rising political temperatures seeking to incite citizens, tempos of confrontation are ringing loud and our dreaded enemy of ethnic polarization and hatred is back.
And we are more concerned with taking a selfie! Our political leadership, in government and opposition is more concerned on how they look and how convincingly they can lay blame on one another rather than with solving problems. They must change their outlook. This is not the time to point culpability but to address families of the victims and seek answers on the real culprits.
Perhaps the “selfie” craze has made us only admire ourselves and forget to look and listen outwards to issues and to the other Kenyans. The situation we now find ourselves in is deplorable and we need to create space for sanity to address the heightened uncertainty, insecurity, suspicion and helplessness. It is evident the security mechanisms have failed, in pre-empting terror incidents through communication and intelligence, and in reacting promptly and effectively.
The security apparatus needs to be serviced or overhauled altogether. Five hours of delay is totally unacceptable and would have been unacceptable even 20 years ago. Time has come to look at the service we owe to Kenyans. We must forget our political leanings and egos so as to bring together a wounded nation. We must preach peace and bring solutions on the table, not just engage in a senseless blame game. The security mess must be put right, starting by those who have failed in their duty.
As citizens we must now be on the lookout, but more importantly become our brother’s keeper. This is time to put our heads and hands together to repel the common enemy of hatred, and violence. Hatred must not be allowed to grow. See also: Senseless conflicts disrupt growth We Kenyans must get sober and talk like brothers and sisters. It is time for all leaders across the divide to stop talking tribe, and stop escalating the existing tensions among our people.
Terrorists will thrive in our confusion and wrangles. Winston Churchill once said, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” We must understand that politics is part of the life of the nation. However, it can be either constructive and positive, or destructive and partisan. We have been treated to a play-off of “political might” that is slowly degenerating into a platform for ethnic feelings. We see a rising tribal streak coming to the bad “competition” of who “controls” who.
Wake up leaders and guide and come to the aid of this country! For God’s sake let’s stop the bickering and get down to working together. Our throats are hoarse at singing our own praises and not a word for the victims... except a selfie with them! Leaders seem to be more concerned with defending their position with rhetoric of “good intentions”, “promises”, “good conduct” and “great concern” while hidden behind is the selfish and personal pursuit of gaining political mileage.
Renowned icon of first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt’s exclamation must hold true: “Pit race against race, religion against religion, and prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.” The life of any Kenyan counts even in Mpeketoni! The life of the poorest people of this country is just as important as that of the mighty and powerful.
I wonder whether we would be acting in the same way if it was only two not 50 parliamentarians who had lost their lives or those of their families. Was the Westgate terror attack which warranted an entire cohort of soldiers more important? Or could it be that it was perhaps much closer to the powers that be? Dialogue among the leaders across the political divide is a necessity.
What must be sober is how it takes place; not as a tribunal but as a constructive exchange, where good ideas are given space, no matter from whom they come from. In fact, that is the role of advisory forums. Therefore it is not something we should call arbitrarily. How the dialogue is organised is up to the nature of matters, but certainly we cannot expect to create another house of Parliament to discuss national affairs.
Can we ask both sides to be statesmen and gentlemen? The voice of the clergy has unfortunately been overshadowed by the noise of bickering. I am aware of many statements and voices of reason that have been raised by diverse religious leaders. Very little of these have been captured by the media. However, we as the church leaders must do more, and speak louder, with a different voice from the political class. We must bring sanity and reason to the issues affecting the flock.
Adopted from The Standard