Imagine a country where vote rigging and buying persisted in urban areas.
A wealthy businessman strip-mined large tracks of land in several counties while giving only minimal compensation to the government or communities. He then outright bought votes to become a senator.
Then years later in the present time, the nation’s parliament opened a phony smokescreen investigation into political rivals to distract from anti-corruption criminal inquiries due to complicity with foreign spy agencies.
The above referenced realm is the US. The early 1900s was part of the progressive era in American politics where the growing middle class tried to dampen the unethical political machinations of prior decades. By 1900 the country grew agitated when the public learned of mining magnate and Montana Senator William Clark’s methods to attain his political office.
Then now in 2017 a US political party, the Republicans, try to distract national attention from criminal probes against their own party members by launching phony investigations into their political rivals, the Clintons. Such actions seem like moves straight out of Robert Mugabe’s playbook.
So as a general malaise takes hold of Kenya’s economy, let us remember that periods of countrywide pain rile all great nations. What defines a national culture is how resiliently we bounce back from rough spots. While our Kenyan economy sputters following the two elections in the past four months, we should still retain great hope for our future.
Comparatively, literally every country in East Africa besides Kenya suffers diminished growth due to autocratic leaders.
From a benevolent dictator to our southwest to self-serving dictators further southwest, directly west, and northwest, to autocratic crackdowns from leaders too cowardly to face dissent to our north and south, then the sad anarchy to our northeast, Kenya stands strong as the beacon of hope in the region. Proverbially, when the Kenyan economy and political sphere catch a cold, the rest of the region comes down with the flu.
We remain the country of choice for foreigners from the surrounding 10 nations to invest in. While foreigners see the great value and stability in Kenya, perhaps we should remember our own strengths.
In Kenya, we proudly measure our progress against more functionally efficient nations than our neighbours. We hold high standards for ourselves.
Therefore, we dismay when we do not live up to our own goals. We not only dream for better infrastructure, deeper transparency, and stronger institutions, but also demand it. Have we reached our desired levels? Absolutely not. But Kenya does consistently get better. Development occurs throughout the nation.
We boast enviable educational systems, outstanding literacy rates, a dynamic and growing middle class, an entrepreneurship culture, and improving roads and rail.
We see dramatic electorate revolts by Kenyans voting out shockingly high numbers of incumbent politicians from MCAs, MPs, to governors showing citizen power creating the foundation for greater local accountability.
America, on the other hand, only votes out roughly six per cent of incumbents each election, creating cronyism and entitlement.
So let us as a citizenry focus on both the negative sides of Kenya and act on how we want to improve as well as our positive attributes that make us a great nation.
Go out and shop. Invest in stocks, bonds, Treasury bills, and land.
Let our consumer spending restart our economy. The middle and upper class of our surrounding nations are undiminished in their pro-Kenya investments, let us match and exceed their zeal.
Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor