Thursday, August 5, 2010

Was it peaceful or just Calm?

A flashback to 2007 December 30 in the light of yesterdays referendum voting has left me wondering which of the two was the real Kenya? Both had the drive to vote for change but with totally different outcomes. No one can even tell there was any voting yesterday and this makes me feel very proud.
But was it peaceful or just calm?
I am no prophet of doom neither do I enjoy conflict but I am disturbed. I am disturbed that even as we went for the vote we still have so much swept under the carpet that we hope will sort itself. I am disturbed that our brothers and sisters remain in tents as no one is keen enough to re-settle them. I am disturbed that many a kenyan voted for or against a document they had no idea what it contains or has for them. I am disturbed that politics and partisan interests remain a key driving force in Kenya and public means are used for private ends. For if politics was not the main thing, why then did bill boards with messages for Voting YES or NO have pictures of some persons who have declared their intentions to run for presidency in the next elections? Why were there cold fights about who will gain most from the referendum in terms of political mileage? Why is the discussion now on which politician delivered votes and who did not deliver and not on the millions of Kenyans who have borne the pain of bad leadership and how they stand to gain or loose in the new order?
This are the things that disturb me. The politicians are already sharing the spoils while Kenyans remain in their sorry state or affairs. This thoughts calls us to go flat out and work for peace by uprooting all causes of conflict in the country and no one should be spared if they are the cause. only then can we set our country on the path to success otherwise the scenes of 2007/8 will not be far from us.
One of the interesting observations in this referendum is that Kenyans have all that it takes to make this country new and that they want change. A change that is not just on paper but real change that impacts their lives positively. With the results showing a clear YES win, one is left with no doubt that in 14 days time Kenya will have in place a new order. But will Kenyans have a new order internally? As the paper is signed by the president, are Kenyans also signing new page individually and collectively. A new page of responsibility, honesty, abiding by the rule of law, living in peace, love and unity. A new page of respect of opinion and celebration of diversity. A new page of integrity and justice that is not about "just us".
For the change we so desire must start with each of us. We can not expect to remain the same and joy ride on the change from others. Indeed, if it is to be, it is up to us. Lets work for our country for in here lays our prosperity.

In Service to God and My Country.

ARMS

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Final Thoughts on Referendum Eve...

Friends, we are Kenyans in Kenya for such a time as this. Much more, we are Disciples of Christ in Kenya that He may be glorified even through us. We have not always lived to this expectation. When called to courage, we havefeared; when called to reconcile, we have divided; when called to act wehave often ran away and when called to love we have hated. I am encouragedto note that destiny is in the future and that we have a minute by minuteopportunity to arise and shine. But are we committed to this course? Are we ready to pay the price for the prize, carry the cross for the redemption?Are we just keen on the returns or blessings? Are we given to walk the roadof the higher calling for which we are being called to? A path least usedand even unpopular,but right nevertheless which the Lord is calling us to.

I am grateful for those who have taken time to understand the document before come Weds 4th Aug 2010.On this day we shall either approve or disapprove the document. Grey areas have been pointed out and so have been the strong point. In a diverse society there can be no one straight road and thus a constitution is a negotiated piece with giving and taking, gaining and loosing.

The decision before us is a political one with implications on every aspectof our lives. It is a choice that requires us to weigh what we are willingto live with. We must at every time remember that the reason we are seekinga new constitutional order is to have a country where each citizen can havethe opportunity and support systems to reach their highest potential. Alevel playing field where all have an equal opportunity in enjoying thebenefits that our great country has to offer. As one of my good friends puts it “YES is a drive to fix the politics, while the NO is a drive to fix thevalues”. Question is which one is most critical and which one can only youand I do. But a keener look on the Kenyan society as is now, reveals that the problem we have may not be solved by simply enacting a new constitution.The problem that Kenya has is one of abdicating personal responsibility andoutright disregard for the rule of law (read impunity). This then calls usto a higher duty that is over and above a new constitution. That we must beready to change our attitudes and ways of life if we are to see prosperity.It’s a call to forget the former ways of corruption and impunity.

The constitution may fix the hardware (systems) but I doubt it will fix thesoftware (people) which is largely responsible for the state Kenya is innow. We must appreciate that we cannot legislate on peace, love and unity.This must of necessity stem from willing and transformed hearts. This newKenya must be built in the hearts of Kenyans otherwise we will remain underunder siege and as a people without a birth right. Kenyans must arise andbuild their Kenya, just like the Japanese, the Chinese, the Americans andothers have done. No lasting solution will come from outside. Others can support but we must be out doing the real work. Thus come Wednesday, we mustall vote and be proud of our vote.

A new page in Kenya’s history is in the offing. This is regardless ofwhich side gets more votes. Of interest is that both those voting YES andthose voting NO have a point of agreement. This is that the PCK is notperfect. The point of departure is that the YES Camp want it passed thenamended while the NO Camp wants it amended then passed. This is in myopinion is a good thing. The challenge is on how we get both sides to worktogether after the referendum to ensure that we have the contentious issuessorted for therein lies the stability of the country. In the absence of thiswe are simply cooked!. We are cooked because the reasons you and I arevoting yes or no are not necessarily the same as why the politicians aredoing so. This calls for us to arise in prayer and action, the Martin LutherKing Jnr style and demand that Kenya and Kenyans be respected and treatedaccordingly. More so ensuring that Kenyans are the drivers of their owndestiny with the help of God.

Ours is a role to build a loving, peaceful and united country. And this wemust do with all the zeal and zest we can command. We must vote and work fora responsible nation, teach and practice the values we desire to seeexhibited, and be an example of the change we want to see. Lastly we must asa church always recall and emphasis that a well governed country is notnecessarily a godly one, thus we must keep on with the great commission ofmaking disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,Son and Holy Spirit.
God Bless You All.
In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS
NB: This is a speech I gave in St. Andrews Church on Sunday, 1 August 21010 as Wrap Up to the Serialization of the Proposed Constitution of Kenya. This version is edited by John Ngichu

Friday, July 16, 2010

19 Days to go....

With barely 19 days to go to the long awaited 2nd national referendum on the constitution, the campaign tempo is rising with each camp leaving no stone untouched.

Come 4th August we will rise early in the morning to go queu to "bring reforms" or to "reject reforms" as some would make us believe. But will voting YES or NO mean anything to our country or will it just be another expression of our democratic right to vote. Both YES and NO are working to make us believe that transformation of our country lies on their side. YES are arguing that having come this far its just in order that we cross the river wipe the little not-so-good parts and move on. On the other hand, NOs are saying that we must not just cross over when we know we have some parts we can fix. each of us has a choice on which side we need to follow. Important to note is that none of us will go unaffected by whichever side carries the day.

But lets know that society is as good as the individuals in it. There seems like we are keen to have an external solution to our internal problems. We (kenyans) have a heart problem that we must indivdually be willing to have it fixed. No one is responsible for our future but ourselves. So in as much as we fix the car, lets also fix the driver. Poverty wont fade away when we send more money to grassroots until we have healed the corruption at those grassroots. The environment wont improve, unless we address the greed and abuse that we individually cause on the environment.

We each have role to play.


In Service to God and My Country.ARMS

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Irony in Kenya

This is dedicated to all those who desire to lead this country. It is from observations on our country. sad ones indeed. Its my prayer that we will work to change this culture of blaming others.
I am worried for you leaders...with all votes comes expectations (read very high expectations) not for something in return but for everything in return. Infact voting in Kenya seems to be the process of choosing the person (s) we intend to blame for our mistakes in the future.
Kenyans expect exemplary leadership from you and nothing else even if they have no idea what exemplary leadership looks like or should look like nor willing to provide. We expect you to define it, live it and they be happy. We will fail and look bad but we expect you never to fail and always be perfect. WEwill make mistakes but expect you to take responsibility. We will call each other names but expect you to apologize on our behalf. WE will fail to take their children to school but blame you for mass illetracy and insecurity. WE will bride and take bribes then blame you for weak enforcement mechanisms.
WE will liter our towns and villages then blame you for filthy environment. WE will cut down trees and grab forests then we will complain to you of unreliable rains. WE will seat by and watch then complain you are doing nothing about our plight. WE will Vote YES or NO without even reading the proposed constitution, then later insist you misled us. WE will vandalise whevever is government property then blame you for poor service delivery.
WE will always demand more from you than we can ever deliver ourselves together and then will blame you for being inefficient and unrelaible . Then finally we will vote you out/or push for your sacking and replace you with the next person we intend to blame for our future mistakes. .... and that is the irony of society.
Kenyans lets end this culture and start taking responsibility for our actions. Lets be the generation that will be remembered as the ACTION GENERATION. Lets educate our children by participating in the schools programmes. Lets clean our towns and plant our forests. Lets plan implement food security programmes. Lets at the community level resolve to live with each other in unity.
In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS

Friday, April 30, 2010

Some Wise words on Integrity

"A liar needs a good memory." — Quintillian

"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."- Samuel Johnson Rasselas, ch. 41

"What is left when honor is lost?" — Publilius Syrus First Century BC, Maxim 265

"If we believe a thing to be bad, and if we have a right to prevent it, it is our duty to try to prevent it and damn the consequences." — Lord Milner

"Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas." — Benjamin Franklin

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful." — Edward R. Murrow

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." — Abraham Lincoln

"It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong."— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"He is not wise to me who is wise in words only, but he who is wise in deeds."— St. Gregory

"There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics."— Mahatma Gandhi


In Service to God and My Country.ARMS

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Unused Road.....

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves."Abraham Lincoln, Republican
This famous quote by Abraham Lincoln underscores the place of integrity and personal obligation in making a country grow. This blog has taken the position, that every man and woman has and should play their role in making their society a better place to live in.
Listening to common discourse in Kenya, there seems to be an effort to find the other person who is responsible for this and that going wrong. Rarely, and this may not apply to all, will you find people discussing their role in the state of things. This leaves us in a sorry state where we claim to be clean and everyone else is dirty. If that be the case, then we should be extremely worried for no matter how "clean" we may be, if all that surrounds us is dirty then its just a matter of time and we shall also be dirty. This may be best reflected by a statement i read sometime back that goes, "Light that is constantly surrounded by darkness is in danger of loosing its brilliance". That may be debatable considering the moon has been around for ages but still shines....but if my science was right, the moon reflects the sun's light.
back to my point, I think we have had too many excuses in Kenya and its time I want to hear statements of responsibility. Will you be the first one to go? I am choosing that road, the unpopular and unused road of being a man of my word. This is certainly not ease in world society where telling the truth is unnormal. But I will try, will u try with me?
This we shall do in service to God and Country.
ARMS

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Famous Quotes on Responsibility

"The price of greatness is responsibility."— Winston Churchill

"Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility . . . . In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility." — Michael KordaEditor-in-Cheif, Simon & Schuster

"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it." — Lou Holtz

"Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."— General Colin Powell

"You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself."— Jim Rohn

"The reason people blame things on the previous generation is that there's only one other choice."— Doug Larson

"In the old days, words like sin and Satan had a moral certitude. Today, they're replaced with self-help jargon, words like dysfunction and antisocial behavior, discouraging any responsibility for one's actions.."— Don HenleySinger/Songwriter

"Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses." — George Washington Carver

"All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you."— Wayne Dyer

"In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity." — Abraham LincolnDecember 1, 1862 Message to Congress

"It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”— J. W. Goethe

In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS

Adopted from http://www.leadershipnow.com/responsibilityquotes.html

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Voting YES or NO - You are responsible for your Choice


"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice" - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jnr.


These words by the late Rev. Martin Luther King, sink deep when you think of the task ahead of us. We have a draft of the proposed constitution that the AG is publishing in readiness of the referendum to be held in three or so months time. Both YES and NO camps have set base and each is doing what they do best - using all means necessary to sway the vote to their favour. The interesting difference this time is that the 2005 YES and NO leaders are both on the YES side and this has very key implications. Its a good thing that they agree on this matter. One hopes that they agree for the same reasons and hopefully those reasons are for the good of the country and not just selfish as has been the case for most of our fellow citizens in leadership positions.
I have gone under for the last 19 days since my last post and have been thinking deeply on this matter-The proposed Constitution of Kenya.
What concerns me most is why I will vote whichever way? Why will you vote YES? Why will you vote NO? It has beceme common to hear many a kenyan blame this or that leader for the matters affecting them even when they (citizen) have the power to sort things out. Thus many will vote either way, simply because their spiritual or political leader has said that is the best way to go. It is this suspension of personal intellect and responsibility that greatly disturbs me. This blog asserts that the only way to move this country forward is by having every man and woman take responsibility of their own choice. We must take the voters card, vote in the referendum and elections with the full commitment to stand by our choice. We cannot blame any one for the outcome of the choice we make.
I urge us to read and compare the various drafts while considering why certain clauses have been changed from one version to another leading to what the AG will publish. Having considered it personally, make a decision that you are willing to stand by to posterity. Remember, that history will surely judge us for every choice we make.
Let us seek to "bring a true order of justice"(Martin Luther) and make Kenya the country of choice. Do not allow yourself to suspend your thinking and play along with others. This blog will endeavour to arouse our consciousness on matters of national building of which the constitution is key. This will be by encouraging personal responsibility towards the same.
In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS

Thursday, April 1, 2010

PROPOSED DEVOLUTION FRAMEWORK: POLITICAL EXPEDIENCE OR ECONOMIC PRUDENCE?

Nearly 2 decades of efforts at constitutional review and there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. One of the fundamental provisions that the new constitution will have is one on Devolution. “Devolution has been advocated as a political response to the ills plaguing fragile and plural societies, such as conflicts, inequalities, rent seeking, economic stagnation, corruption and inefficient use of public resources. Besides, devolution can also be implemented as a reaction to external pressure from organized groups (or separatists)”, states a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (2010).

It has emerged that as parliamentarians vote for the constitution today, devolution will be one of the main issues of contention that will make or break the constitution making process. But Why? Is it because the proposed structure of a national government and 47 county governments is inadequate? Or is it because it is associated with one side of the political divide? Is the current debate on devolution one that is driven by the need to be politically correct or by the need to be economically prudent? It is imperative to note that the one of the main arguments for an efficient system of devolution is that of ensuring that there is equitable (some have insisted on equal) sharing of national revenue and other resources. Difficult as this may be, it is certainly a quest that must be addressed. The other reason has to do with representation and proximity of government to the people. There thus seems to be an expectation among Kenyans that devolution, by ensuring better sharing of revenue, providing effective avenues for representation (participation at local levels) and bringing government closer to the people will solve the problems that threaten to cripple their lives. This may be far from the truth unless the following issues are put into consideration.

First, is the basic requirement that the unit of devolution and hence development be clearly stated. Currently we have albeit three such units namely, the local authority, constituency and district. Each of these units receives resources (human, technical and financial) to facilitate development at the grassroots. It has thus emerged that this has created competition, duplication and ultimate wastage of public resources with little if any impact. One would rightly observe that the cost of providing key public goods and services at the local level is in excess of double of what it would cost in well defined system. On this, I have a disturbing concern. The MP’s while aware of the conflict the CDF management structure of which they are the CEO’s in their respective constituencies have caused, are unwilling to let go. Infact, if the Kabete Consensus retreat is anything to go by, they (MPs) are on record as having agreed on the creation of 25 regions with the Constituency as the unit of devolution. And towards this they proposed that 10 % (up from current 2.5 %) of total annual ordinary revenue of government be allocated to the CDF kitty (under their management) and 20 % be allocated to the regions. Accordingly, county governments were to be done away with, effectively making the MP the lord at the constituency. This is against the principle of separation of powers. It also negates the demand by Kenyans for popular participation in development. On this I completely disagree with the members of parliament.

Secondly and closely related to the first, is the question of what constitutes national resources? Those proposing regional governments are on record as implying that the regional government will have greater autonomy and muscle than the county governments in revenue collection and utilization. Theirs seems to be a suggestion that the resources within their region will be theirs for keeps. This has the potential of causing greater resource conflict than the country has ever witnessed. Looking at Kenya today we have certain revenue points that we consider as key. They include the coastal beach, the national parks, mountains, agricultural zones just to mention but a few. Whereas, persons from a certain region that has a key resource may be advantaged should we pursue this proposal, this could change should the resource decline or global forces cause a decline in its utilization. Further should other regions that were initial disadvantaged discover key resources, then there is likely to be imbalance in revenue and this could lead to conflict resources. A case in point is Nigeria. When the federal constitution was established, sharing of resources between the regions and the federal government was based on the derivation principle that meant that 13 % of the revenue was left in the region of source. As Seberu (2001) quoted by IEA (2010) observes, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, all export duties of agricultural commodities and import and excise duties on tobacco and motor fuel were simply returned to the region of production or consumption. This tended to make the rich regions richer and to arouse invidious opposition and resentment from the less well endowed regions. This even got worse when oil was revenues became a significant part of the Nigerian economy. This shifted the focus from the agricultural regions to the oil rich regions. Today we are alive to the unending conflicts in rich oil regions especially on the Niger Delta. Oil accounts for 90 % of Nigeria’s revenue. So I ask, in the event that a key resource is discovered in the commonly considered marginalized areas such as Oil in North Eastern or other expensive gases in upper Rift valley, what will we do? The proponents of regionalism ought to carefully weigh these concerns.

Thirdly, devolution regardless of the shape it takes is likely to encounter problems unless underlying misunderstanding of the place of government and representation is concerned. It is unfortunate that positions in government have been interpreted and utilized as a means to personal end. This has affected the way public goods and services are applied for the common good. Further, it is painful to observe that anything public is a target for misuse, abuse and indulgence. Long after the colonialists who had taken our resources and were using them for their gain, excited the stage we are still “stealing” back what is rightly ours. Unless, we the citizens appreciate the devolved governments as our own and not belonging to some foreign entity, then it will be difficult to deliver the gains of a devolved government.

I thus appeal to our members of parliament to vote on this matter with the best of their clear conscience. They must each oppose any system that will duplicate and waste public resources of which we elected them to hold in our trust. They must defend the right of the citizen to meaningfully participate in the development meant to benefit him/her. They must put the money where the people they represent want. They must leave a legacy of men and women who stood for what was right in the midst of pressure to conform to the culture of the day. Men and women who choose rationality over expedience.

And to fellow citizens, our country will become what we individually and collectively choose to make it. It’s all in our hands.

In Service to God and My Country.

ARMS

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fighting Corruption in Kenya - What Shall we do?

Psalm 11:1-7 “In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: "Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?" The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.”

I am of the opinion that over all the arguments advanced on what, how and when of corruption, it remains a heart problem. It is driven and supported by hearts with a penchant to greed. It is greed rebranded.

The Psalmist asks us, when the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Indeed the righteous (men and women who love God with all their mind, soul, strength) in Kenya can do something. You and I are the ones to do this. Whether we shall do something including staying aloof is a choice we need to make personally. Inevitably our personal choice has public implications. Doing nothing will be a sign that we have resigned and approved that corruption is right. Martin Luther is on record as having said, “He that does not confront evil, commands it to be done”. It is thus true that evil will continue to prosper as long as good people do nothing.

So what must we do?

Seek Righteousness: We can only offer what we have and of who we are. Righteousness has to do with seeking to please God because we love Him and not just to obey a rule. Righteousness has to stem from a heart anchored and established on God. For God is righteous (Vs. 7). It goes without saying that you cannot love God and then go ahead to destroy the foundations of his people and his world. When asked the greatest Commandment, Jesus responded “Love the Lord your God….. and love your neighbor as yourself. For all the other laws are based on this”. Friends we must make laws (and indeed we have made many laws) on fighting corruption but none of this will make any impact unless we have hearts that are transformed. Not even a new constitution can stop this. Righteous people need to do something by being the messengers of truth taking it in every direction.

Be Upright: This is about being straight. It is being what people see and nothing else. It is about character. It has been said that we must watch our thoughts for they become our words, watch ours words for the become our actions, watch our actions for they become our habits, watch our habits for they become our character, and watch our character for it becomes our destiny. Character is above all, the most important thing in transforming a country like Kenya. Sun Tzu writes in His book The Art of War, “To win a war a general needs two things – character and strategy and if he must be without one then let it be character”. Amazingly, its is interesting that many of us, including all of you in this hall tonight, spend our lifetime working on our strategy but leave character to natural laws.

Do Justice: How fair are we in undertaking duties bestowed on us? How do we treat those under us? Are our actions based on love or desire to be superior and in control? Do we treat others as they ought to and as we would want to be treated? There are many laws in Kenya, but there is a scarcity of justice. Who will hear the cry of millions who have been unjustly treated? God is a God of justice and he ensures that we each get what we deserve. We never get more than what we deserve unless we have stolen. God is calling us as he did to the Israelites when they had abandoned his ways. He sent prophet Micah who prophesied, “What does the Lord require of you than to show mercy, act justly and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)

This i Believe. This I will do. This I encourage you to do.

In Service to God and My Country.

ARMS

NB: This is from a Sermon shared in Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology Main Campus in Juja on 24 March 2010. Email me for full script.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who is incharge?

In the recent past we have been treated to the usual political theatrics that characterize Kenyan politics and leadership. While even the least concerned of Kenyans would wish to remain unconcerned, the situation is such that everyone has paid attention. The constitution making is at a critical stage and Kenyans are faced by a myriad of challenges.

One wonders who is in charge of Kenya at the moment. The common response is to point at the other person who by whatever reason (election, appointment, contract) has a duty to provide certain public goods and services. This are the fellows we blame and curse at the top of our voice for things gone wrong. But what difference would it make if each of us took charge of what is happening in our part of the world? I am convinced that each of us has an influence over some of our part of the world. That could be among our friends, workmates, family, organization, social club etc. Who have you left to be in charge of making the desires you have come true. Or are we afraid of carrying the blame for things gone bad?

The best angle to start being in charge is the try angle. Try all you can and to your surprise most of the things you think cant work will actually workout.

Today, step out of your comfort zone and take charge of making a difference in your part of the world. Indeed each of us has a duty in making Kenya the best place there was to live in. Will you take charge and be the exceptional one or will you spend your life looking for the exceptions in others?

In Service to God and My Country.
ARMS

Friday, March 19, 2010

Raha Tupate na Ustawi (Plenty Be Found within our Boarders)

"Kenya has become a country of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars", said the Late J.M Kariuki when reminding the leaders then of their responsibility in building a country where all have an equal share of the opportunities for development. Today one looks around and notices great scarcity in our country. What happened? What went wrong such that 47 years after independence, we seem to be making baby steps in the fight against our greatest enemies - ignorance, poverty and disease? Today, on top of this three we have added crime with impunity, tribalism and corruption.

There is scarcity of innovation in service delivery. We have scarcity of food in dry times and scarcity of storage and processing in times of rain. We have scarcity of good performance in national exams and when we have better performance we have scarcity of admission positions in the next level. We have scarcity of manpower in key industries and scarcity of resources to employ the many graduates that are trained in our institutions. We have scarcity of provision and scarcity of the will -spiritual, political and economic- to address the same. We have scarcity of unity and scarcity of determination to make bridges between our various nations.

In this state of affairs, our national anthem reminds us that we are to build a country where plenty is found within our boarders. The swahili version is even more powerful - Raha Tupate na Ustawi . It connotes joy and being established with no worry or cares for provision. Today many a Kenyan have no time to create, innovate and reach their highest potential as they are boggled down by the search for basic provision. Their dawn to dusk is characterized by the search for some elusive cash to make their lives better. Economic growth registered seems to have had very little impact on the development of the people especially for those on the lower levels of the income quartile.

But how can we find this joy and peace of establishment. How can we have plenty within our boarders? Is it by higher economic growth rates? Is it by implementing better economic redistribution mechanisms? Is it by devolving government to lower units that have authority in their respective areas? Is it by making greater fiscal transfers to the grassroots? This is the query that has been taking the better part of my thinking faculties.

Whereas, the above measures are key and important to institute and follow through I think we need to do two things.

A. Maximize on each area's competitive edge and comparative advantage: Each region in this country has its own potential. What if we invested in increasing in each regions potential? For instance making the North Eastern part the lead producer in Beef and related products, Fruits and Honey. What about various nuts (coconuts, cashew nuts and peanuts etc) in Coast as well as tourism. This is just to mention but a few. All we need is mapping potential and investing in it in terms of production and returns on investment.

B. Each to have just what is enough and rightful theirs: Kenya has enough for all of us but very little for any one individual who wants it all for himself. We have scarcity because some of our brothers and sisters have taken more than they need and what belongs to others. What if we each committed to just having enough and letting others have the rest that is rightfully theirs.

In all this lets be reminded and encouraged by the words of Zechariah that change in Kenya will not come by own power and might but by the spirit of the Living God (Zech 4:6 NIV). He is our father and has our best interests at heart.

What do you think we can do to make Kenya a country where there is plenty for each of us? For it is you and I who will make a difference in Kenya.

In Service to God and My Country.

ARMS

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Redeeming the Soul of Our Country - Practical Actions

Since the end of last week, I have been reflecting on practical steps of transforming Kenya. There have been many ideas advanced on how this transformation will come to our motherland. I am a firm believer in solving a problem once and for all. However, appreciating the intricate nature in which societal challenges web into each other, this will be a great task. I underscore that no meaningful change will be pain free. As the popular saying goes, “No pain no gain; Know Pain much gain”. We must be ready to pay the price for the prize we want. We must be ready to fight and save our country.


It’s in seeking this strategy that Jeremiahs account of his commissioning by God to prophesy to a defiant Israel came to my mind. Jeremiah comes into picture at a time when Israelites in Judah are lost in their self indulgence and sin. He was a son of a priest. Jeremiah is called by God to do a great task armed with only one weapon - His mouth. But like many of us he has all reasons why he is not the right man for the job. The work at hand was risky even to death and he was still young. He complained of his inability to speak but was soon to realize that what God calls for He provides (He has already provided for). God reminds him that He (God) knew him before he formed him in his mother’s womb and he had set him apart before he was born, appointing him as a prophet to the nations (Jer. 1:5 NIV). God commands Jeremiah to go to everyone He sends him to and to say whatever He commands him to say. He was not to be afraid as for the Lord would be with Him and would rescue him. This suggests before hand that Jeremiah would find himself in dangerous situations, in the destructive jaws of greed, injustice and idolatry that would try to crush his very life. But God would rescue him. (Vs.7-8).


God reached out His hand and touched Jeremiahs mouth and says to him “Now, I have put my words in your mouth"(Vs.9) and then gives him the grand assignment.


Today, and as earlier noted in this blog and other media, Kenya is in a deep mess. Crime with impunity, injustices and greed in all its form are threatening to completely wipe Kenya from the map of the world. We have sunk before, but never this low. And it is in the midst and as a result of this mess that I am convinced that God is raising a Jeremiah (This may be several people in different parts of Kenya) to do the six things outlined in Vs. 10. God is appointing these wo/men, just as he did to Jeremiah, over nations and kingdoms. In a previous post we observed that Kenya has remained one country with many nations. Interestingly, it is among these nations that the so called political elites have been working hard to establish their kingdoms. Painfully as it may sound, even some “Wo/men of God” have also been working at establishing their kingdoms among (within) these nations.


It is over this mix of nations (ethnic groups) and religious, political, economic, class and other kingdoms (those already established and those in the making) that God is raising a Jeremiah. I do not know who that is, but I am convinced s/he is there. Could you be the one? Am I the one? Remember Jeremiah was an ordinary person like you and I. Phillip Yancy and Tim Stafford in their notes in the Student Bible (NIV, 1986) notes that, “He feared death, he wearied of ridicule, he hated standing alone against the crowd”. That sounds like me. I love the comfort of my nest and would like it to remain undisturbed. However, and as Yancy and Stafford further note, “Yet he obeyed God, and in the end his message proved true. Today, he stands as a far greater man than than the kings in their luxurious palaces who imprisoned him and burned his writings”. Are we keen to fit in or stand out? To please men, as they get destroyed or to please God and save men?


I ask again, will we stand up and stop all this destruction of our national fabric? Let’s arise at this critical moment and be remembered as the people who in the face of destruction gave hope and built their country.

So what must we do? I humbly submit six practical things that we need to do hand in hand.


i. Uproot: There are huge trees called corruption, impunity, and tribalism that started as small shrubs but were ignored. Now they have become mature trees with their roots in every vein of our national fabric. Merely cutting their trunk will not solve the problem; they must of urgency be uprooted. A problem that is not tackled at the root cause is bound to persist and can only get worse. Persons responsible for these crimes must be uprooted from their economic and political bases and sent to jail.


ii. Tear Down: There are well established evil systems that cover our country. It is a mesh and a wall. Today our ethnic, geographical and other boundaries have become barriers to national building. Even our education selection system (quota system) has become a big barrier as it deliberately bars some Students from ever interacting with each other. This has a led to citizens who engage with on another based on stereotypes – they know others as thiefs, killers, proud etc - all because they lack exposure. These must of urgency be torn down (demolished). WE must demolish everything that stands on the way of national building.


iii. Destroy: This implies completely removing from the face of the earth. Cancerous cells continue to multiply unless they are destroyed. The monster of tribalism, corruption, injustice with impunity is so dangerous that if it is not destroyed now it will destroy our country completely in the near future.


iv. Overthrow: You overthrow those who have are in power and especially men and women who have choosen a self-centred route. In this route, all they do is seek self gain and glorification. Whereas overthrowing is rarely a peaceful game, I believe it is possible to overthrow our failed leadership with the vote. These should be followed with an uncompromising adherence to the rule of law where every wrong doer gets the due punishment while those on the right are rewarded.


v. Build: The greatest tragedy is to tear down, destroy and overthrow without knowing what to do next. As we engage in the above mentioned we must know what we want to replace the corrupt systems. We need to build bridges across our ethnic groups and communities. We need to build a culture of trust, merit, integrity, honesty and hard work. We need to build a system where the input determines the output. Where God the father and not god fathers have the final word. Where one can grow and live to reach their highest potential without having to affiliate to an ethnic or any other grouping.


vi. Plant: Every vegetation and life in general starts with a seed. Its success depends on where it is planted and how well it is taken care of. National building is a process and thus we need to plant the right seeds to be able to get the right results. In planting and harvesting the process is as important as the product. Let’s breed and plant the right seeds. Seeds of peace. Seeds of true democracy – practices and values. Seeds of merit and rewarding of the same.


I am persuaded to the core of my existence, that Kenya needs this bold actions to be able to rise to her rightful place in the league of nations. We have what it takes; are we willing to take it and use it to redeem the lost soul of our country?


This I ponder and this I will do.

In Service to God and Country.

ARMS.

Friday, March 12, 2010

They have died....who is next?

Today my heart is heavy. I am lost of words and my mind is on fire with all thoughts of revenge and every other thing that can avenge for the lives of men and women who have died due to an act of omission or commission by a fellow Kenyan. I more concerned because the very gun that fell them and the very hand that pulled the trigger is still with me. It is in my neighbors hand - the very person I live with and at times hope will protect me. This is a pain that every other Kenyan shares in.

The killing of seven taxi operators in the early hours of yesterday morning in Kawangware-Dagoretti have left me wondering where we are headed as a country. My friend Bernard says, " they have died...there are no graves to bury them... there is no maize to feed their dependents....their children have primary school to attend...its pain and more pain". And this is just one of the many incidences. If it is not the bullet, then it is arson, or hunger, or a lost job or a disease. Kenyans are faced with death in all its forms from every side.

Its greed and selfishness that surrounds our every day life. Who shall fight for us? Who shall stand and say no more? Who shall give up their all for our good? Who is it? Is it you or is it me?

I condemn all this evil in the strongest terms possible and wish to inform our leaders that we are closely watching how they are handling the lives of the people of Kenya.

In Service to God and Country.

ARMS.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

May We Dwell in Unity, Peace and Liberty


Dwelling in Unity, Peace and Liberty with people of all walks of life is certainly a challenging call. Thats the commitment we make when we sing our national anthem. Every single Kenyan desires to live a life of unity, peace and liberty.

I attempt to define the four terms in this in the context of our national building and the current situation.

Dwelling connotes living and conducting ones life in a certain geographic area. This may imply conducting some work and engaging in a means to make a living. In the context of a country there are different geographical areas that one may live in and inevitably there are other people in the environs.

Unity has the the direct assumption that there are other persons who live in the area or that have a direct/indirect impact on your life. In our context we find ourselves living in the same geographical area called Kenya. We come from all walks of life and have differences of language, race, tribe/ethnic group, cultures, religions and much more. In such a context we have a choice to live on our own or to seek to live in harmony with others. We have a choice to make our differences our point of conflict or our point of uniting. I am convinced that our diversity if well utilized is our greatest strength. Unity is not uniformity; rather it is a focus to a common purpose. At its best unity is when each of us is doing their best and bringing their best effort to the table of decisions and development of our country. The strong uplifts the weak, the rich supports the poor, the fast encourage and make up for the slow etc. But in a state where the weak are mistreated and taken advantage of, it is impossible to have unity. We have to work extra hard to ensure that as much as is possible we bring every Kenyan to the table of decision.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the deliberate act of managing conflict and resolving contentious matters at their earliest. If you like peace is the work of always pulling out the roots of any weed of conflict as soon as bud shows up on the earth. Studies on conflict and even our own day to experiences show that what ends up becoming a huge conflict started as a small issue but was either ignored or deliberately fired up of sectarian interests. In Kenya, peace is often confused with calmness (or what one commentator has called cease fire). Just about two years after the Post Election Violence occured and some are already indicating that there is peace. I am of the unfortunate opinion that we do not have peace, rather we have conflict rich calmness. Why do I say so? The issues, the underlying causes of the conflicts in the past seem to remain unaddressed. For instance we are yet to address corruption with impunity, land ownership wrangles, human rights abused inflicted on fellow Kenyans and much more. As a result there is clamour for capture of political power by different communities so as to be able to sought out ( some read this as "to revenge"). In this kind of a context it is difficult to talk of peace. To live in peace with fellow Kenyans is a deliberate decision that you and I need to make. Some people make it difficult to live in peace with them and no wonder the advice from the Holy Bible in Hebrews 12:14 To strive for peace with all men. Peace is expensive because it calls for personal sacrifice and a willingness to compromise some hard lines so as to accommodate the other person.

Liberty means freedom. and for me the greatest thing that freedom should enhance, is the opportunity for all Kenyans to seek and achieve their highest aspirations both individually and collectively. Thus it follows that such people will never be equal. People who are pursuing their aspirations in a supportive environment will always be difficult to manipulate. Lawrence Reed advances the argument that free people are not equal and equal people are not free in his paper, seven principles of sound public policy (see http://www.mackinac.org/3832). Therefore one understands where every effort to ensure liberty is oftenly opposed. Because in a manipulative system, that ours has become, there needs to be unquestioning foot soldiers. Once you make them free then you loose them. They are free to choose you and free to choose your opponent.

Thus we dwell in everything else minus sufficient presence of peace, unity and liberty. That explains why one meets faces of frustrated people who work long hours to no avail. They struggle every day to live a comfortable life.

What then shall we do? Just like new wine destroys an old wineskin, it is impossible to find peace, unity and liberty by using the same old systems that have facilitated disunity, conflict and oppression. Failure is doing the same things, the same way but expecting different results. In my mind two things stand out.

A. Change of Software: With this, I refer to each of us individually changes our attitude and way of doing things. I hold the view that a safe journey is a result of two things, with a constant of God's guidance. This are a good driver and a functional car. Thus we must focus and get right the drivers of national building and these are the individual kenyans. We need to remove the current faulty operating system that is characterized by no respect for public property, impunity, corruption, blaming others for own fault and greed in all its faces. In place we need an operating system that is characterised by personal responsibility, the rule of law and integrity in all aspects of our national fibre.

B. Change the hardware: Even the best of drivers knows that his success depends on the condition of the car. I must submit that we are driving a faulty car. It has shown all signs of malfunction but we keep on. two things are likely, it will either crash and kill us of it will stall and cost us big time. Fixing it will cost us so much more. We must as a matter of urgency change our hardware - call it reforms or whatever else, we need a system change. This must cover all facets; education, land, leadership, development models and resource allocation.

Then and only then shall we start the true journey of dwelling in peace love and unity.

Be part of this change.

In Service to God and Country.

ARMS.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are you the leader Kenya is looking for?

Fellow Kenyans as we continue to reflect on the words and spirit of our national anthem, I am compelled to share with us what I believe comprises the kind of leaders our great nation needs to move forward.

This I quote and paraphrase (In Italics) from Leadership Author Dr. John C. Maxwell, in His book Developing the Leader within you (1993).

Kenya is in dire need of leaders;

Who use their influence at the right times and for the right reasons;

Who take a little greater share of the blame and a little smaller share of the credit;

Who lead themselves successfully before attempting to lead others;

Who continue to search for the best path and not the familiar one;

Who add value to the people and the organization (country) they lead;

Who work for the benefit of others and not for personal gain;

Who handle themselves with their heads and handle others with their hearts;

Who know the way, go the way and show the way;

Who inspire and motivate rather that intimidate and manipulate their followers;

Who live with people to know their problems and live with God in order to solve them;

Who realize that their dispositions (attitudes) are more important than their positions;

Who mold opinions instead of following opinion polls;

Who understand that an institution is the reflection of their character;

Who never place themselves above others except in carrying responsibilities;

Who will be as honest in small things as in great things;

Who discipline themselves so they will not be disciplined by others;

Who encounter setbacks and turn them into comebacks;

Who follow a moral compass that points in the right direction regardless of the trends;

Whose word is their bond;

This are true characteristics that any one desiring to lead this great nation should ascribe to. The advice of Charles Evans the late, a former Chief Justice of the United States of America, to the judges on 3 March 1939 comes in handy, " We are here not as masters but as servants, not to glory in power but to attest our loyalty to the commands and restrictions laid down in our sovereign, the comrades of this institution in whose name and by whose will we exercise our brief authority".

Let us all be firm in deciding who leads us but much more let us be this kind of a leader in our part of Kenya.

In Service to God and Country.

ARMS.