Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Birth or Growing Pains?

There is a lot of grumbling going on in Kenya. Some warranted some, maybe not. In my opinion, a lot of it is growing pains. Some of it birth pains, with access to new freedoms and ideas causing conflicting opinions. The media bill is one such thing. For me, I insist that the Kenyan media needs laws and regulations, so I'm all for it. Even as they urge Kibaki to veto the bill that was passed in parliament. Over a small addition which they claim compels them to reveal their sources. The people who added it claim that it compels them to clarify an unnamed person if a conflict arises. After reading the particular entry,I believe the media is again making a mountain out of a molehill. The wording was not even confusing. However, because I haven't read the entire bill, I will refrain from saying more. But if that part is the only problem, this is why the media obviously needs policing. They aren't grown up enough yet. That they have an opportunity to express themselves this clearly is a sign of how far they've come. To insist that they are being gagged is being alarmist, a condition the Kenyan media really needs to put emphasis in moving away from.

Other things have happened recently. That Charity Ngilu got arrested received mixed reactions. There was a demand for her arrest prior to this. That she found her arrest humiliating is the effect of fair law. For her to blame Kibaki is rather ludicrous. I keep asking at what point Kenyans take responsibility for their own actions. I pose this question to Ngilu as well. Those days of "I am minister, I can do whatever" are gone. You obey the law or like everyone else, suffer the consequence. This is the kind of environment that is conducive to prosperity. That many Kenyans are up in arms against her arrest doesn't make them right. They need to remember to think about being careful what they ask for. Charity wasn't right. She knows it. She just thought she could get away with it. She didn't. I hope she has had some time to internalize, analyze and grow.

The growth is apparent. Tuju expressed himself clearly over the EU tariffs and regulations. This argument over the purported carbon release within organic food that travels for many miles is in many ways an attack to the thriving organic markets that are taking businesses away from the mega store moguls. In Europe and USA, the issue has been seriously in the limelight especially because the organic stores are not lobbyists and have no friends in high places. Or so the rumor mills have been saying. Back from digressing, that Tuju could and did express himself clearly and with no fear, is surely a sign of the times. When a country can support its budget, at least 93% of it, with no need for aid, then it starts to roar and make itself heard.

What about this money for road repairs? Actually I'm more interested in the "meeting to educate citizens about the plan." That caught my eye. What a good sign. The more people understand, the more involved they can be with the plans. And the better able they are to plan and brainstorm around pending implementations so as to stimulate business growth and development. Good move. And perhaps reflect a growing interest amongst locals as to what is going on around them.

Not all is well. The police seem to continue to have a stronghold on majority of people. This is still more an issue of awareness. Brig Ali, in my view, has done a lot to improve the police force. But everyone else has to chip in. Ignorance is not an excuse ever. I recall I have always thought of Kenyans as cowardly. But if every motorist was to opt to be put in jail, how full would those jails be? And how quickly would that draw attention to the stupidity of cops at station X? I think the solution lies in cameras. Everywhere cops station road blocks, they must be required to have a camera running 24/7. Lacking which, any grievance filed against them will be awarded to the plaintiff, no questions asked. And if everyone makes a habit of questioning the cops, politely, I insist politely because it bears results; whenever stopped by them and quoting the law every sentence, I believe it should make them afraid enough to minimize if not stop their extortion habits.

There will be a lot more of these issues coming up. A lot more erroneous judgement especially preceding elections will be made by Kenyans. My hope is that they are all alert and learning. My greatest hope is that one day, Kenyans will be able to drop fickle mindedness and open their eyes to truth. Absolute inability to recognize improvement just because it comes from a man you choose to hate, with reasons ranging from "he has a stroke" (are you kidding me?!) to "he is an old man" mostly masking tribalistic differences is a loud cry for mental development within our population. We can get there. We just need to understand what path we're on and how to stay on it or move away from it.

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