The month of December is significant to all Kenyans, not because of the Christmas festivities but the fact that it’s also the month when we gained independence and since the beginning of this year, the country has been abuzz with talks of #Kenya@50 celebrations which have been received by mixed reactions amongst the wananchi.
Like most other countries in Africa that were once under the yoke of colonialism, native Kenyans used inferior weapons and tactics to fight against the better armed and trained white settlers who had declared Kenya as a colony, making Kenyans to become subjects of the Queen.
The white settlers had traversed the country, fraudulently and forcefully acquiring obscene chunks of fertile land. They embarked in large scale plantation farming. Natives on the other hand, were driven to so-called “reserves” and soon became labourers in what was once their own land.
The whites went proceeded to “discover” places hitherto unknown to them, never mind the fact that Africans were already living in those places. Many places had their names changed to make them easier for the British tongues.
Soon the clamour for self-rule gained momentum and the white rulers were eventually replaced by indigenous Kenyans. Note that prior to the arrival of the British there was no common leader in Kenya. All the different tribes had their own leadership structures in the name of tribal chiefs. As such, no Kenyan or black man for that matter had the experience to lead 42 consolidated tribes. Ideally, Kenya didn’t even exist because it’s the Europeans who demarcated Africa, creating the 54 countries currently making up the continent.
Map of Kenya
We were so keen and united to kick out colonialists and we soon replaced them with Kenya’s own sons and daughters. Our first indigenous government soon identified 3 enemies to be tackled in order to make Kenya a successful country. The enemies were “Disease”; “Ignorance” and “Poverty” not in any particular order.
Instead of combining efforts to eradicate the 3 enemies, senior officials in the government failed to agree ideologically. Some were obviously and rightly so, unhappy with the zeal with which Mzee and his cronies were eradicating their individual poverty. By the time he died in 1978, many Kenyans had not seen any single improvement in their lives over the 15 years of Kenyatta’s leadership.
In fact most Kenyans were relegated to tiny plots of the remaining arable land to practice subsistence farming while Mzee and his cronies took had the plantations and ranches under their names.
When Moi took over, he and his cronies also did exactly what his predecessor did. Moi had pledged to “fuata nyayo” (follow the footsteps) and he almost outdid Mzee Kenyatta during his 24 years of reign that were marked with tribalism appointments, corruption, political assassinations and impunity just like Kenyatta’s.
Kibaki, who had served in both Kenyatta and Moi’s regimes, became president and ruled for 10 years, but despite all the goodwill from Kenyans, he too failed miserably to end corruption and impunity in Kenya. And I must add that he was used by his former boss to divide Matiba’s votes in 1992 general elections.
But as we mark #Kenya@50 our country is more synonymous with insecurity, skewed development and vices like corruption, scandals, Post-Election Violence, political intolerance, unresolved murders, extrajudicial killings, broken promises, poverty, suffering, broken infrastructure…. the list is endless.
The past 3 presidents of Kenya and the current president on the right
Most of our leaders are directors and / or beneficiaries of an ogre called “Corruption Inc.” which also has a sister company called “Impunity Inc.” The two are joined like Siamese twins and have made it impossible for the wananchi to enjoy the fruits of their independence. Instead, they have ensured that Kenyans pay more taxes and get nothing in return. We can’t take them to court because they will use their resources and influence to scuttle the process. Furthermore, corruption has been embedded in our judiciary for a long time now, even Kiraitu Murungi’s “radical surgery” never helped to purge the judiciary.
Why is it that #Kenya@50 has more people living in slums in urban areas, where there are no basic services?
Why does #Kenya@50 have such glaring differences in terms of infrastructural development? When will development projects reach Northern Kenya, Nyanza, Western, Eastern and Coast regions? Aren’t they also parts of Kenya? Why would some favoured parts of Kenya@50 have state-of-the-art roads, while the rest of the country has to do with state-of-the-past roads?
… with this
We are now being told that proceeds from the Turkana Oil will be used to develop the entire country because #WeAreOne. Fair enough, but why were the proceeds from Tea and Coffee not used in a similar manner? What about proceeds from tourism? Turkana and the entire North have been marginalised for decades now, no wonder people from Northern and North Eastern always talk of 2 countries in one. Other areas like Nyanza, Western and parts of the Coast have not seen any serious attempts by previous and present governments to improve their local economies or infrastructure.
I dare say that #Kenya@50 is sicker than it was half a century ago. Because of rampant corruption, we have not invested in our healthcare system at all. Many Kenyans cannot afford proper healthcare in their own country. We have failed to remunerate our health workers competitively and as a result our doctors and nurses are leaving the country in pursuit of greener pastures abroad. Of course quacks have been quick in filling gap, exposing Kenyans to even greater risks. It’s a fact that our public health facilities have all been rundown completely, including Kenyatta National Hospital that apparently attained ISO Certification last year. We have failed to equip our hospitals; we have even failed to make essential drugs available at health facilities across the country.
A public hospital in Kenya – This is where you go if you become sick in Kenya
What has #Kenya@50 done to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our law enforcement agencies? Poor pay, demoralizing living and working conditions, favouritism during promotions and many others. The result? Westgate, road carnage, extrajudicial killings and so on.
Police corner a suspect during riots in Nairobi
We removed the British and replaced them with the brutish. That is the sad reality of #Kenya@50
But is there anything for #Kenya@50 to be proud of? Of course yes; we passed a new constitution and held contentious elections under the new political dispensation. We are expanding #JKIA to increase passenger capacity and hopefully attain US Class “A” status. We revolutionized money transfer via M-Pesa, we are constructing a mega port in Lamu, we discovered oil and a large aquifer in Turkana, our athletes have been bringing us glory, and our very own Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. We also gave America its first black president!
An artist’s impression of the proposed JKIA Greenfields’ terminal.