Kudos to Uhuru and Raila for helping Kenya move forward
There is no doubt that some Kenyans will take a while to move beyond the results of the last elections. This is a right that should be respected by all, as long as it does not interfere with those who have moved on.
I also know that some are struggling with their spiritual faith after the results. Again, this they must be allowed to deal with. Maybe they will understand how God’s ways are not our ways in the process.
Personally I had my moments of self-doubt, wondering how I did not see that more Kenyans would vote looking forward rather than back. My religious shake-up was trying to understand the ‘why’ of this election; what message it sends out… what I learn from it.
But I am an incurable optimist and as I have told my Jubilee friends, I fervently pray that they were right and I was wrong.
I also have a responsibility as one of the opinion leaders of this generation to move on because I must show that democracy must be respected, even when it does not suit you. I have thus accepted that 6.1 million Kenyans could not have been all wrong. My responsibility now is to make sure that what they decided works for everyone.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are also doing a great job of helping us move along on this process. The meeting between President Kenyatta, Deputy President Ruto, former Prime Minister Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo at State House two weeks ago showed an acceptance of the realities of the election results. The president and former premier being able to hold hands in Kisumu last week was another sign that they understand where Kenya is at, and are committed to doing what they can to help us all move along.
I am especially impressed by the humility that each leader has showed so far. The president is the president; he really does not have to reach across the political divide.
He could stay with the mantra ‘we have the numbers’ and push his policies through brute force. He has chosen not to. Hon Odinga could have chosen a different route to deal with his loss, he has chosen the more difficult path of reconciling with a government structure he opposed. The two leaders are showing, by word and action, that Kenya is greater than any individual. Kudos to them.
The media must also be commended. In the last month they have sacrificed ‘scooping’ each other to show only that which unites Kenyans. Clearly they understand how delicate the Kenyan situation is at the moment and are going out of their way to jointly lead with stories of reconciliation.
It is also clear that they understand that it is pictures rather than the words that stay in people’s minds. This is a great sense of corporate social responsibility that should be embraced by all in the business sector.
I have one more special request to President Kenyatta and Hon Odinga. Each of you has a core group of ethnic-based die-hard supporters, most of whom will do whatever you tell them (sometimes without much thought).
Now that you have shown that you are reaching out to each other at your levels, could you instruct them to do the same at theirs? (I assure you they will do whatever you instruct, whatever they might think about it!)
I imagine President Kenyatta and Hon Odinga somewhere in the Mt Kenya region and Nyanza respectively, maybe at a (thanksgiving?) rally. I imagine them using such a platform to instruct their bases to be their respective ambassadors in uniting the country.
I imagine each of them telling their supporters to go out of their way and reach out to members of other communities, especially those who were on the ‘other side’, and to extend to them an open hand, at least of partnership, in building Kenya together.
I expect President Kenyatta to especially explain to his core base that their initial attempts might not be viewed as genuine; but that they must persist. I expect he will explain to them that his success as president depends on all Kenyans working together, because Kenya belongs to all Kenyans.
I imagine him telling them that he is not in government as a community representative, but as a national leader of all Kenyans. I expect that he will ask his support base to be magnanimous (and humble!) in victory. I expect that he will explain to them, and all those watching on national media, that all voters, whoever they voted for, are equal as far as his government is concerned.
I see former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with a witty ‘kitendawili’ on how elections should never be the basis of enmity, or how his supporters are not in opposition as a community.
Let us shock the world, again, with our capacity to move beyond our differences.
(Wambugu worked at the Odinga campaign secretariat)