Kenya turns 50 in December of this year and all over the place has been talk of Jubilee and rightly so.
I spent some time this morning looking at the Millennium Development Goals and I will summarise a few of them below (both good and bad):
- Approximately 30% of the population is malnourished or lives on less dietary requirements than is necessary for growth;
- Approximately 85% of the population is currently enrolled in primary school – helped no doubt by the free universal primary education policy implemented in 2002;
- 7.28% of children die before their 5th birthday;
- HIV Prevalence rates are in decline,and
- Access to safe drinking water is increasing while access to basic sanitation has remained constant in the last 25 years.
A mixed bag.
What these figures don’t tell is of the Kenyan spirit and how they work hard, how despite very miserable living conditions and a government built on cronyism, tribalism and all other divisive -isms.
Kenyans see an opportunity where others see lack/ deficiency. When I think of Kenya and Kenyans, I always summarise the two as “Having possibility” these are people who will always make a plan and always come up with a solution, however simple or difficult.
Kenyans appear aloof and cold when compared to their Ugandan and Tanzanian neighbours but they are united in times of need and will always put aside their differences to assist another Kenyan.
I love that Kenyans are very social and love to go out and indeed do go out on each and every single night of the week (attested to by the fact that clubs and pubs open on every single night).
I love that they love to hustle and that what appears to be disorganised and chaotic is actually a vibrant and dynamic system. But just as with any species, given structure, Kenyans will take it up. Who remembers fighting to get into moving buses at Kencom and the result once queues were introduced (yes, I said introduced!)
Kenyans have demonstrated repeatedly that they can make a plan and all I would like to see happen is a demonstration by all three arms of the government a move to put in places systems and institutions that will now work on behalf of the people. Public health that actually works, motivated teachers remunerated fairly, new tertiary institutions constructed, less corruption and more defensible public expenditure. I would like to see a government that gives its people some dignity and a promise of a future where each man will have the same love and pride in his/her future.
For Kenya, I would like to see all the people, because people make governments and not always the other way around, engaged, questioning, demanding answers and each in his/her sphere of influence getting on and making a difference, choosing justice, peace and love as our national anthem states. I would like to see each person trusting that if they do their little bit, the other person will see this and respond honestly. For a nation, 50 is nothing and we hope that we look back and pick those defining moments that will set the pace for a prosperous nation in the hundreds of years left to come.