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Ideas & Debate

LETTERS: Challenges Kenyans face need long-term solutions

political rally
A political rally. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday led Kenyans in celebrating Jamhuri Day. The holiday marks the day when our country became an independent republic on December 12, 1963.

There were reveberating celebrations in all corners of Kenya when we became a republic and cast off the shackles of colonial bonds on this date in 1963.

Our citizenry were full of hope and obviously had grand dreams of building a great country, perhaps greater than its former colonial master.

It has now been about 56 years and the dream of a great prosperous country governed by rule of law and enjoying unlimited freedom is yet to be realized. The founding president indicated that his government’s focus was going to be the fight against poverty, ignorance and disease.

Fast-forward to 2019, millions of Kenyans live in debilitating poverty, illiteracy levels are rising and there are still high mortality rates from curable ailments. There are millions of Kenyans caged in a permanent ring of poverty.

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Our educational facilities have been outpaced by the population growth rates. Who would have beleived then that in 2019 there would still be Kenyan children taking lessons under trees for lack of formal educational structures?

Kenya’s second president took a cue from the founding leader and focused on “three things” too. He preached a philosophy anchored on peace, love and unity. It is interesting to note that “development” was not included as one of the pillars of this philosophy.

Despite the grand “philosophy”, malignant tribalism thrived and pverty levels exercabated. There were land clashes and further alienation of the poor to the periphery of society.

The third president was more modern from the sense that, unlike his predecessors, he didnt carry any traditional artefact; no flywhisk and no “rungu.” He did not espouse any specific philosophy.

However, during his reign significant development was recorded with regard to physical infrastructure. The country was also able to write a new constitution, a pivotal achievement in peacetime.

Despite these positive achievements, the country nearly sank to civil war due to an electoral dispute in 2007/08.

The current president has attempted to anchor his leadership on four focus areas during the last leg of his tenure: ‘Food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and universal healthcare’.

Runaway corruption is eating at the core of the country and the country has sank in to “irredeemable” debt. All the public institutions are performing at sub-optimal levels. There is massive unemployment and millions of Kenyans are living in poverty. This is despite the great promise of the new consitution promulgated in 2010.

The common denominator of all the four dispensations is leadership that fails to lead Kenyans in to the “promised land” of true economic freedom.

The chains of poverty, government ineffectiveness and retrogressive thinking by those in leadership permeate every strata of of our country.

Dr J. Toror Mosso via email

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