Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rebuilding the wall of Kenya: One stone at a time

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 @ 1130-1230


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

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