Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cohesion

UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI MAIN CAMPUS CHRISTIAN UNION
Sunday Service, February 24, 2013 @ 0900-1100

COHESION

Texts: Psalm 133 & Jeremiah 29:1-11

In December 1991, my family gathered at our rural home in Olenguruone, located in Molo District. We celebrated Christmas and new year. Little did we know that it was our last time to see our home, for in April 1992 everything had been reduced to ashes. All we had was lost and life was never the same. Coming to terms and being able to forgive whoever did that has not been easy. As a family we have learnt that forgiving and living in peace after such an experience takes the hand of God.

Cohesion is the tendency to stick together. From my above experience I have observed that:-

  • ·        It is difficult to accept and move on
  • ·        It is a choice that is personal but with great public implications
  • ·        It starts with you and I not with your neighbor
  • ·        It starts today and not tomorrow



In Psalms 133:1-3 The bible exhorts us that it is good and pleasant when brothers and sisters live together in Unity. The anointing would flow from the top to the bottom. Our National Anthem reminds us that it is our responsibility to stay in peace and unity.

Today I see and hear many people talk of cohesion but how badly do we want to live together in unity in this country? And are we willing to pay the price of such peace. Is it something we think is a must or something we think we can do without sometime. I say this because, I see us recline to our tribal grouping to drawn on security of numbers. When we fail to consider other candidates because we they are not from our own or they are spoiling for our own.

Cohesion demands we take responsibility – personal and collective. While the promised blessing is assured, it comes with a responsibility. Responsibility to do what is right and to accept when on the wrong.

Jeremiah 29 provides the details of this responsibility.

Central in this chapter is the contention between the appealing voice of false versus the hard sounding voice of truth. It’s a tension of to whom we pay our allegiance? To the everlasting truth or to the enticing but shortlived lies? We find ourselves in similar situation in our school, work and life. We have what we desire to have or where we desire to be but there is a reality of where we actually are. Daily we are faced with the temptation to do nothing productive in our current place because we want to save our best energy and ideas for that great day, when we are in our dream state. We feel the desire to do just enough to get us along. God has a different message for us just as he had for the exiles then.

This letter contains five things that are important and applicable to us today in Kenya:

1.      To settle down (Vs. 5) – not to take their situation as though it be a passing wind. They are to build houses, plant gardens and eat what they produce. We live in a world where we are always on the run from one pursuit to another. Accept that we are a country of diversity and that we cannot always have our way. Accommodate others. Be tolerant. God wants us to settle down even in our hearts that we can build a strong relationship with Him and his people. Remember we live once and that is it.

2.     They are to increase in numbers (Vs.6) – Marry, have children and give their children in marriage. While this may not be literally taken as it meant to them then, there is a desire in God that we increase. That we improve his world. That we leave the places where we are in now, better than we found it. That we draw more people to his loving grace.

3.      To seek the peace and prosperity of the place they are in. To pray to the Lord for it, for if it prospers they too will prosper (Vs. 7). It is interesting that their well being was tied to the well being of Babylon. This is an equally true principle that our prosperity is tied to the prosperity of the place where we are in. We see this all the time in economic, social and political crisis - that everyone suffers when things goe wrong and that people are ‘happy’ when systems are well. We thus cannot ignore what is happening around us for in the end it affects us. This we are to engage in remembering that the true source of prosperity is the blessing of the Lord.

4.     To watch against the deception of the false prophets (Vs. 8-9). God’s word as recorded in scripture stands in all times. He blesses obedience and punishes disobedience – regardless of who is involved in it. We live in a world that has redefined what is right and what is wrong. However, this does not change what God’s word says. We are to watch against such and also watch against being the false prophets who give others false hopes.

5.     In God’s time he will come and save us (Vs. 10). For the exiles it would be about 3 generations (70 years) before God would take them from Babylon back to their home in Jerusalem. For us we await in faith that God will meet our desires here on earth. Also for the glorious day when Christ shall return to take us home. This is the gift that God gives to those who have choose to put their trust in Him (Rev. 21:12).

Cohesion starts with you and I. It’s a responsibility we cannot afford to delegate or abdicate. Kenya will remain after 4th March. The decisions we make today have an impact in posterity. This calls for wisdom and tough resolve as we live.

In Service to God and Our Country
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sound Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah


PCEA ST. ANDREWS CHURCH
SUNDAY SERVICE, FEBRUARY 17, 2013 @ 0900 & 1100

 SOUND LEADERSHIP: LESSONS FROM NEHEMIAH

Text:  Nehemiah 4:1-15 and Matthew 22:34-40

It has been an interesting week with the first live presidential debate taking place. This is what some of the candidates had to say (paraphrased), ‘It is very easy to deal with the health problem. In my government we will establish the DIDA diet where people will only eat when they are hungry. And even then they will not fill their bellies. A third food, a third water and a third air. And there will be no meals timetable. On foreign policy, the problem of Migingo is easy, I will first deploy the navy there push all Ugandans out then we can negotiate if it is in Kenya or not.’

When I first arrived in the city in 2001, I was full of expectations. My parents had sent me to take computer studies as I prepare for university education. I spent my first year in the city at Pumwani Youth Hostel and attended the Kenya Christian Industrial Training Institute (KCITI) in Eastleigh section 1. I ate chapati chafua, which was basically chapati with free soup splashed on it. I walked along conjested streets and sometimes on sewage and severally went wondering what I had just stepped on. This was not the city I had anticipated. Yet it was in this place that I saw diversity in its totality. I saw people from all walks toil in the hot sun to make ends meet. They worked so hard although many earned so little.  Nairobi was and remains to be a city of many faces. There is the city those who are able live in and there is the other Nairobi that many wish that never existed. This is the city where everything goes. But this is the Nairobi that drives the productive engine of the city – the labour, the consumer and the tenants. Same applies to many parts of our country.

Our country has made many strides but the inequalities especially incomes is a matter to worry any person. Poor incomes have left many Kenyans vulnerable, hungry and angry. They are the broken walls and burnt gates of our generation.  The inequalities that abound call for leadership that rises above the parochial interests of ethnicity, class and even the so called analogue/digital divide. A leadership that is courageous enough to turn the narrative and usher in a new story. That leadership is what each of us is being called to. While is mostly on political/public leaders, the truth is that each of us is a leader only that our spheres of influence differ. It is how we lead where we are that will make or break our country. We have a unique opportunity to shape the future. Shall we build or shall we destroy it? Let’s turn to Nehemiah. I encourage us to read the entire book to catch a grasp of this great leader.

Nehemiah is in exile. Despite his odds, he is a privileged man just like many of us. He has risen to serve in the Kings palace as a Camp De Aide. He is a high man but an accessible one. He receives his brothers and enquires about his home country and specifically the city of Jerusalem. He is told it lies in ruins. Its walls are broken and gates burnt. The walls signified the security, protection and community. In their absence the people were vulnerable. He is troubled and decides to do something. He cannot stand to be enjoying a privileged life as his brethren live in insecurity and disgrace from their neighbours. He prays and acts. He approaches the king with a clear plan of what he needs and the amount of time it would take him. Arriving in Jerusalem he assesses the problem, gathers like minded people and gets onto the work of rebuilding. He faces opposition firmly. At one point he arms his people to work and fight, calling on them to ‘remember the Lord who is great and fight for their families’ (Neh. 4:14). He addresses the plight of the poor and ensures that the people’s dignity is respected (See chapter 5). Once the wall is done in 52 days, he invites Ezra to lead the people in rebuilding the spiritual walls and gates. He knows that while the physical infrastructure (hardware) is important, the spiritual infrastructure (software) is more important. Indeed, a society is as strong as the inner strength of its members.

Kenya is at a decisive time in her development. In the 50 years of independence, a lot has been achieved. Much more needs to be done. Especially on improving livelihoods, feeding our people and providing quality education and health care. Ours is a call to be Nehemiah’s of today. Men and women who get disturbed by what disturbs God. People who are connected to God and relevant to the world. I get the sense that as Kenyans, we know where we do not want to go but we have not fully resolved that we won’t go there. Not when we are increasingly operating on fear. Fear of domination and revenge should one who is not our own take power. This fear is what has made many of us retreat to our ethnic numbers as a source of security. Not when we politic with health, security, pensions, food and education of our people. Not when we fail to address the plight of the majority young and educated but jobless people. Not when we glorify those on the wrong and crucify the honest and hard workers.

We do not want to go over the cliff but no one seems willing to stop and turn the car. We want to do things the same old way but get different results. The family is in turmoil, the church is crying for dedicated women and men, and the country needs leaders in all its facets. This is what pains most: That we are not angry enough. But why should you and I care, when we can fly out when things go wrong? When we can afford private services when public health and education systems fail? When we can afford supplies for the next one month especially with elections around the corner? I think we must care because unless we address the plight of the majority who are poor, we will not protect the minority who are rich (paraphrasing John F. Kennedy). Unless we do that, we will build gated communities that we cannot drive or walk out of. We will invest with fear of loosing all should things fail. What then is God’s call to us?

It is to stand and do something. We see this in Nehemiah. While what he did is commendable, the real cracks of it are in the person of Nehemiah. They are in his software so to say. Sound leadership will only stem from leaders who are sound in and of themselves. I hold the view that a leader can only give who they are and what they have. For a leader, being is as important as doing. A leader can only take people where s/he has been to or is willing to go. It is in Nehemiah’s being that we see the fountain of all he did. In Mathew 22:34-40 and Mark 12: 30-33, Jesus is confronted by the leaders of those days. They ask him what the greatest commandment is. In essence they are asking him, what makes a great person? What makes an outstanding leader? Jesus answers that 5 things matter.

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart - integrity
  2. Love the Lord your God with all your soul – conviction
  3. Love the Lord your God with all your mind – knowledge/intellect
  4. Love the Lord your God with your strength – ability/competence
  5. Love your neighbour as you love yourself – compassion/justice

Pastor Oscar Muriu calls them the Five Loves of a leader. They make the hallmarks of sound leadership. They are the software of sound leadership. How did Nehemiah live this attributes in his life? And what lessons can we take with us in leading where we are?

First, sound leadership is one driven by loving God with all your heart. This is what I call integral love. It is the highest mark of integrity. Being undivided in your commitment to God. He has your heart and you will follow where he leads. Nehemiah is totally sold out to God. When he hears of the turmoil in Jerusalem, he turns to God in prayer. He knows his heart is God’s and pours it all to him. He prays in confidence that God will hear and lead him. And even as he rebuilds he constantly reconnects with God. He records that the work got done because the people worked with all their heart (Neh. 4:6). He knew his heart will remain restless unless it finds rest in God (paraphrasing St. Augustine). Our greatest problem is a problem of the heart. Where is your heart today?

Secondly, sound leadership is one based on loving God with all your soul. This is the attribute of conviction that is beyond surface talk. It is a deep conviction in what you have believed. It is this conviction that makes Nehemiah arise and take action. It is the conviction that that binds all your nerves and being in following a cause. It enables a leader to see through a hopeless situation and turn the narrative – from hopelessness to hope, from operating by fear to walking through fear in courage. It is the drive that things can change. That people can change. It is sad to observe that many a Christian are so by association and not by conviction. They have no stand for something and thus fall for anything. Kenya is crying for leaders of conviction not of convenience. Men and women who go for what is right and not just convenient. Men and women who are willing to help us delay certain gratifications so that we can enjoy long term prosperity. Will you be the one? Will I be the one?

Thirdly, it is a leadership grounded on loving God with your entire mind. It is a knowledgeable leadership. Our intellect matters to God. It is a mind submitted to God and plans what will benefit his people. What we saw in the Goldenberg and other scandals is people using their knowledge to destroy a country. Nehemiah understands the work ahead and makes careful planning which he submits to the King. When on the ground he first assesses the problem to clarify his plans and when it comes to work he divides it into manageable pieces. Using our mind to serve God and his people. We have not always loved God with our minds. For starters we have many at times failed to develop our minds. We read popular news but shun from challenging matters. Yet God has given each of us a mind that is creative. A mind that can innovate solutions that will serve many generations to come. Sound leadership thrives on using our intellect to engage our society’s challenges.

Fourth, sound leadership is based on loving God with all your strength. A leader’s ability, skills and competencies are a great asset to a society. God desires that we serve humanity with excellence and legacy in mind. Applying our strength to its best. Shunning mediocrity and laziness. Nehemiah plans the rebuilding and is also there to build. He does what he needs and delegates only that which he must not do. He harnesses the collective strength of the people. In 52 days the work is done. We live in a society where people want jobs but no work. Pay but no pain. People want to reap where they sowed not. Think of all the gambling going on in the name of brand promotion. Think of middle men and brokers who make unbelievable margins by exploiting farmers and informal workers. God is calling us to be leaders who use our strength. Who eat the sweat of our labour. It is also a call to harness the collective strength of the people of Kenya to build this our nation together. To collectively pay the fare and equitably enjoy the wellness fruits.

Lastly, sound leadership is founded in loving your neighbour as yourself. It is being compassionate. It is being merciful, just and gracious. It is in treating others as you desire to be treated. It is in seeing people as valuable creation of God. It is in working for the good of the people around you. It is in protecting the weak and supporting the vulnerable. In chapter 5, some of the wells to do people are exploiting their brothers and sisters. Nehemiah steps in and reprimands them for such unjust acts. He ensures that such oppression is stopped. Today we are faced by a situation where many are exploited by the few who can. While it is easy to blame the government for poor pay of civil servants, think of the working conditions in our industries, commercial farms and factories. Think of the working conditions of many of our house helps and office assistants, cleaners, cooks, watchmen. Take what you we pay them and calculate how long it will take them to get out of poverty. They work so hard yet we pay them so little. They too are children of God and have the same attributes as we have. The love for neighbour has to start in the house of God. It is also the basis of bridging inter clan and ethnic divisions that are threatening our country.

Sound leadership has to start in the House of God. It starts with you and I. It starts with an individual resolve to be all for God. To see what he sees and to be concerned by what concerns Him. To start and sustain the change we want to see. When the history of this country is written, on which page will you name appear? On those who built or those who destroyed. And more importantly, when God asks what you did with you leadership opportunities, what will you answer? In the words of John Maxwell, sound leadership is the call to stand when others are sitting, to stand out where others are standing, to be outstanding when others are standing out and to set the standard when others are outstanding. Kenya shall be transformed when we all practice sound leadership where we are. This calls us to prepare and do our best for it is better to prepare and get no opportunity than to get opportunity unprepared. God bless us and God Bless Kenya.


In Service to God and Our Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rebuilding the wall of Kenya: One stone at a time


INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP UNIVERSITY
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 @ 1130-1230

REBUILDING THE WALL OF KENYA AT THIS TIME

Thank you for inviting me to share with us. I read that this is an institution dedicated to producing the best of our leaders. And that is what Kenya needs, and urgently so.  Leaders whose hearts respond to a higher call. Leaders who see the problem and instead of riding on it, fix it. Leaders who are ashamed by what is a shame to God and his people. Leaders who are connected to the people to understand their problems and connected to God in order to solve them. Leaders who understand that better systems are important but not the ultimate solution to the plight of man.

That is why I came to speak to us today. To challenge us to look at the problem not with the fear of tomorrow, but with the courage to act today as God give us the ability. To look at our fellow Kenyans not as a mere statistics for winning elections, or numbers for county allocations, but as persons who have innate value. People whose dignity and destiny matters to God.

Kenya is undergoing a transition within a transition. It is a first in many ways. First we are undergoing of transition of government as we exit the Kibaki administration. Secondly, we are undergoing a constitutional transition as we exit central and usher a devolved system of government. We have numerous new offices created both in Parliament, Executive, Judiciary and Independent Offices and Commissions. Yesterdays launch of new salary scales may be a good pointer to the new structure. Our dual transition as time of change provide for us with an opportunity to make or break our beloved country. our last transition of government was not as juicy and we all know what it did to the fabric of our country. We cannot as some would want us to, ignore what happened then. But how badly don’t we want a repeat of 2008 Post Election Violence? Are our individual choices and hence actions reflective of our resolve to never again see bloodshed?

My concern is that the 2008 PEV was just but a tip of the iceberg. It surfaced concerns and long held grievances which I doubt have been well addressed. Instead we have been led to believe that a political compromise inevitably addressed the socio-economic and political grievances that were there before. A number of hard hitting realities are important:
1.  We are a society that seeks security in numbers and our basis of mobilization towards that is in our known associations (read ethnic groups and to some extent religious affiliation);
2.  We are a highly unequal society, it is estimated that  2/3rds of the population of Nairobi lives in a third of Nairobi in largely informal settlements;
3.  We are a water scarce society, we are largely dependent on rain water, much of which goes wasted as we have not put in place sufficient mechanisms for harvesting it;
4.  We are increasing becoming a functionally illiterate society, studies have it that we are having children in class 8 who cannot read a class 5 story book (see reports by Elimu Yetu Coalition), for instance does it concern us that the first KCPE student in 2003 had 482 Marks while in 2012 had 430 Marks;
5.  While we have put a lot of emphasis in democtratic practices such as regular elections and a functional parliament, we are yet to embrace democratic principles and values – of tolerance for differing opinion, the rule of law, respect for public office, dignity in public utterances and decorum, integrity in managing public resources and objectiveness in media broadcasts.
6.  Poverty has become a good of trade sold to the highest bidder. Infact politicians have been on record fighting to have the most poor constituency. This is because it translates into more cash which rarely goes to solve the actual cause of the problem.
7.  In terms of Faith, many a Kenyan are Christians by association and not by conviction. If they were then corruption would not be a matter at all.

These are the reports that meet us on everyday basis. Yet on the other hand Kenyans are hardworking and very hopeful people. Even in the worst of times, we hope and work for the best even if just to benefit ourselves. Today we are in Nehemiah’s shoes. Who was Nehemiah? Reading in Nehemiah 2:11-20,  He was a privileged man. Though in exile he had a good life. He lived and worked in statehouse. Serving the King. He never saw the potholes nor experienced cold nights. He had all that many of us are seeking. Job security and a stable career. But when he hears that his land is in trouble he gets troubled. He prays, resolves to act and goes ahead to act. He steps out of his comfort zone and faces the reality of his people. I look at each of us, and I see a Nehemiah. Studying in one of the best institutions in Africa. Getting prepared to occupy the offices of the high and mighty. The difference between us and the Nehemiah of old is just but one: whether we will decide to act or will remain undecided which is effectively a decision not to act. We cannot remain in our palaces. Be they study, prayer rooms, comfortable offices, progressive careers. We are being called to join God in rebuilding his country Kenya. And this I suggest is going to be a one stone at a time process.

The problems facing us are great to one person, but they are nothing to a community of God fearing and determined persons. Nehemiah assesses the situation and plans carefully. He knows that while he bears the vision, he cannot accomplish it alone. So he brings others on board, they together work at rebuilding the wall. Each working on a different section of the wall. What is in a wall and a gate. They symbolize security, protection and community. Today kenya is in dire need of leaders who will lead us in rebuilding the wall of the various sectors. But ours is even a tougher job for there are walls we must first pull down. Walls of division. Walls of ignorance and blind adherence to evil practices.

We are called to rebuild the wall of food security. The wall of healthcare. The wall of entrepreneurship. The wall of security. The wall of education. The wall of family unit. The wall of unity in diversity. The wall of social and economic inclusion. The wall of peace. This is breaking the task into smaller units that are manageable. None of us can fix everything, but each of us must step out and fix something. We have lamented for so long on the problems we face but it’s time to arise and act. It starts with each of us exercising leadership as personal responsibility.  It starts with electing the leaders who are responsible for their actions. They may not be as popular, but their track record should show what they can do given a chance.  It is time to start planning a return to our counties and go to fix the systems that are broken there so that politicians do not transfer the inefficiencies of the central government there.

We can talk till dusk but change will only come if we arise and act. We must, as Nehemiah did, let people judge us by our actions not our talk. To work and defend the people of God from the evil schemes of the Tobias and Sanballats of our generation. To oppose them through our good deeds. That is the solemn call that I have decided to respond to. We must be willing to work and rebuild the wall. Some through the government as officials. Some through the elective political positions. Some by addressing the software in churches. Some through working with international partners. In whatever place we find ourselves, we must be busy using every resource at our exposure to rebuild our country.

The journey ahead will not be easy for the spaces we want to influence, are occupied by others. However Daniel’s words give us courage, (Daniel 11:31-35) that they who know the Lord their God shall be strong and will do exploits. I believe we are the people Daniel was referring too. People who (quoting John Maxwell) when others are sitting, stand up; when other stand up, they stand out; when others stand out, they are outstanding; when others are outstanding, they are the standard. We are called to set that standard. That whatever we do, will be graced with excellence and legacy. Looking forward to the author and finisher of our faith as continue in this race. My prayer is that we shall appear in history books as those people who contributed to the solutions of the myriad problems facing us. This we do for His glory. Amen.


In Service to God and Our Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Friday, February 1, 2013

Scenarios for the Future: Role of the Youth?

NATIONAL YOUTH SUMMIT 2013



THE SCENARIOS FOR THE FUTURE
Friday, 1st February 2013

Abraham Rugo Muriu
Institute of Economic Affairs

It pleases me to share with us this morning. Thanks to Emmanuel Dennis and team for constantly reminding us that we have a responsibility to our beloved country. We are here because we desire a better Kenya. One that we can proudly associate with. This calls for deliberate actions by each of us individually and collectively. At 50 there are many things I hope to have achieved. I think you too. I would like to be a proud father of well developed children. To be a man whose life has made a difference to humanity. To be a person described with three words: Righteous, Just and of Integrity. What about our country at 50? In August, 1962 The Kenya we Want Conference was held here in Nairobi. It aimed to take stock of Kenya then and “to stimulate constructive thinking of what Kenya the people wanted after independence”. The convention envisioned a country where people lived in peace, had a quality education and made gainful employment in whatever industry they put their efforts in. They envisioned an inclusive and supportive society.

50 years later, we have much to be proud of and much to be ashamed of. We are proud of our great natural endowment, but ashamed that we have not used it for the good of all. We are proud of our diverse cultures and communities, but ashamed that instead of being better together we are bitter about each other. Proud of great brains but ashamed that we have not given them room to innovate and reach their highest potentials (at some point we even persecuted them for thinking differently). Proud of hardworking people but ashamed that we have not created sufficient opportunities for them to find or create gainful employment. Proud of a youthful population (78 per cent below 35 years), but ashamed that their potential remains largely untapped and are only engaged for advancing selfish – economic and political – interests. Proud that we have one of the most literate populations around the region, but ashamed that we have not used this to tap into the global service opportunities. Proud of having democratic space, but ashamed that we have not adhered to democratic values and principles. This must not be the case moving forward. We must get down to the business of undoing our shame and building our pride.

As we gather under the theme of My Country My Responsibility, it’s worth noting that the future we once desired and wanted to live in is here with us. I am particularly happy with the theme for it is inward looking. For many times we have looked at what can be done to us by Kenya. Today we are asking what we can do to Kenya. To make it the country we desire. To be part of the solution as much as we could have been part of the problem. To make national building our individual and collective agenda. This realization and the immensity of the challenges facing us can either make us do something or recline and give up.  I pray we do the former.

So in line with our three pillars of Peace, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, what does the future look like? What are the scenarios of the future? In the year 2000 the IEA Kenya developed scenarios dabbed Kenya at the crossroads. In it there was a possibility of an elnino scenario that would see a total collapse of Kenya. Then there was envisioned a maendeleo scenario where focus would be on economic growth but without clear regulative and distributive mechanisms only a few would benefit and this would lead to a disaster (year 2007/8) is indicative of this scenario. Then there was envisioned a katiba scenario where focus would be on constitutional and institutional reforms, there would be so much faith in the constitution but then without parallel economic recovery there would be little to offer hope to the many unemployed in Kenya. This feels like the road we are currently in. Lastly was envisioned the flying geese where we as country would collectively share the burden of nation building. Where we would labour together through the solutions to our country. We would have visionary leaders who walk the talk and keep their word. They would harness us to apply our potential in all aspects – economic, social, cultural, political, spiritual etc. I feel this is the scenario we would break into depending on the choices we make in the next four weeks. How badly do we want it?

As a result of the Kenya at the Crossroads conversations, The IEA Kenya put together a team of 42 young Kenyans in 2003 to deliberate on a national vision. This was dabbed The Promise of our Generation. The average age of the team was 27 years and hence they dabbed it Vision 2027. Their desire was to think constructively of how Kenya could usher herself into the flying geese scenario. It was thus no surprise that in 2005 Kenya embarked on the process of developing Vision 2030. So where we are now headed? And what role shall we the youth play in making the Kenya we want to come true? This was the question that saw the IEA Kenya bring together youth from across the country to reflect on possible scenarios of the future. I invite you to reflect on their output....


Indeed we are standing at a crossroad. We cannot stand there for long. We must decide and move forward.  But here comes my concern? Are we ready to make that choice? A choice out of a clear conscience and not just to clear our conscience? As you have seen, it will depend on us. And this calls us to ask and answer the right questions as Dr. Bitange challenged us yesterday. Questions of what can I do to promote peace, leadership and entrepreneurship? Questions of what are my special skills and talents that I can use to make Kenya a better place? Knowing that each gives what they have. This is not the time to blame anyone for past wrongs, it is time to right them. It is time to rise to the occasion and be counted. It is time to resolve that Kenya shall be changed not by them but by me. That Kenya shall export talent not of others but mine too. That Kenyan shall be on the world map for all the good things done not by others but by me. That I will be the peace maker Kenya needs. That I will be the leader Kenya needs. To provide solutions those are long overdue. That I will be the entrepreneur that Kenya needs. That if it is to be then I will do it.

Kenya is a focal point, an epicentre of development in the region. Over the years we have attracted investors and partners in all spheres of life. We not only host world acclaimed institutions such as those affiliated to the UN but are also attracting heavy investments in technology and service industries. I have in mind Ihub, 88MPH, Konza City just to mention but a few. We produce the best in many fields - sports, education, ICT innovation etc. However, world leadership in this and other fields requires we the youth to think and act differently. Times have changed and they are changing real fast? Have we changed? The world is moving to a knowledge economy where ideas and their pursuit has greater value. We are becoming borderless and much more internationally integrated. Thanks to technology, for as you listen to me now, you could be updating your friend across the globe. Innovations that would have attracted a laughter of mockery years ago are today made possible. The world is becoming a village, what about the villagers? Are we changing how we do things. The finesse with which we package and deliver our ideas.  We cannot do things the same old way and expect new results. 

It is time we change the story. It’s time to develop other hubs in finance, in agriculture, in sports, in arts and culture. It is time we used technology for a productive course. To research, develop and deliver cutting edge innovations. To build on the good of the past as we correct the wrongs of the same. To focus on what matters most – improving our health care, food production, environmental conservation, and creating employment. To commit ourselves to the ideals of justice, integrity, human dignity and meritocracy. To work and create opportunities for all so that we can develop together. To avoid avoid lonely ascents for as John F. Kennedy wisely advised ‘you cannot protect the minority who are rich without addressing the plight of the majority who are poor’. Towards this we have learnt an important lesson from the older generation that you cannot walk alone. They will differ and vehemently so but when one needs the others support they are there to help. This we need to emulate.

We have two major opportunities. Regional Integration and Kenya’s Devolution. While others may see only the political opportunities to this two I see a peace, leadership and entrepreneurial advantage. Devolved units provide us with an opportunity to develop our leadership and professional skills, to experiment in peace ideas but most important to nurture our innovations. Regional integration gives us a wider platform to market our innovations and products. When others are thinking of power and sharing the spoils of devolution, I suggest we spend time developing inter-county cooperation that will leverage on our county’s competitive and hence comparative advantage. So that Kwale county seeks cooperation with Bomet county. That they will supply them with all the nuts and Bomet will supply them with Milk. That Transzoia will produce the Maize and Machakos will produce Fruits. Our future is in cross border cooperation and trading. This is the conversation we need to have. That instead of each county having all services separately, we have shared services and facilities located on boarder areas hence reap on the economies of scale. Our focus should be not so much on sharing wealth but in creating that wealth. Creating conducive environments for investment.

The future is in consolidating our efforts. Creating cooperatives and companies that can leverage on economies of scale. It is in coordinating efforts so as to ensure that we are not duplicating efforts. It’s in building each other’s competitive edge so that we each shine in what we do best. The future is in technology not as something to be happy about but as something we use to solve our everyday problems. The future has never been brighter than when we have so much behind us to learn from. I am hopeful for I am seeing people with potential. Today I stand and urge you who may be seeing HOPEISNOWHERE, to just tilt your eye and see HOPEISNOWHERE. We can be the best we ever were. We can rise to the highest of our potential. We can do it and do it with style.  And when all is said and done, let much more be done than said.

In Service to God and Our Country 

Abraham Rugo Muriu