Time magazine’s November 1, 2010 cover headline, “How to Restore the American Dream” by columnist Fareed Zakaria could easily be transplanted in any Kenyan newspaper or magazine this week and fit smugly with our current socio-economic and political impasse.
Written exactly seven years ago today, anyone in the United States then could have seen how polarised a society it was becoming and the hanging concerns over the country’s decline as an economic powerhouse.
One can juxtapose these sentiments with Kenya’s current political limbo; a prolonged four month politicking journey punctuated with staccato shedding of blood, loss of life, citizen unrest and heightened ethnic tensions showing no signs of abating.
The Jubilee Party group rubbishes any lamentations over wrongs it has done, with many of the supporters saying “Accept and move on!” The neutrals ask for prayers and dialogue while Nasa “demands justice”.
Some of these paths have been taken in the past with no permanent remedy to our chronic politics and the ethnocentric violence threatening our nationalism.
It seems like we are prescribing analgesics for a headache brought about by hypertension; the pain may subside but the pressure may give the patient a stroke and ultimately kill him if left untreated.
To quote Zakaria’s opening paragraph, “With elections around the corner, the good news is that a bipartisan policy agenda can return the country back to prosperity. But no one says it will be easy”.
This is exactly what is needed for Kenya now. A new breed of politicians willing to bridge the political divide and speak in a sober and brutally honest soul-baring way.
Without this, the same old cycle of denial, a peaceful lull and eruption of violence at the next election season will persist.
For this to occur, we need a radical generation of elected leaders to rise up. Unshackled from the encumbrances of demagogic ideologies or blind party affiliations and loyalties.
Patriots who are free to speak up when a policy or party line contradicts the Constitution, defiles democracy and mocks the tenets of justice that makes us all “Kenyans”.
I must confess I am smitten by Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris’ boldness and clarity of vision. She has called out Nasa gaffes at times and won over even erstwhile opponents.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja too comes out across as someone who can speak his mind, especially now that he has been elected.
Nyali MP Mohamed Ali, Kibra MP Kenneth Okoth together with Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie and independents could form an alliance of sober minded leaders that Kenyans can look to for progress across the political divide.
Hopefully, the flashes of good they recently demonstrated will not fizzle out during the course of their term. The only way forward is for us to break away from non-progressive and retrogressive politics.