Friday, August 06, 2010

2010 - New Decade, New Kenya

It's been a long time since I've felt the need to put my thoughts on this blog. I got deflated, negatively impacted, jaded or just completely drained after the election skirmishes. I've tried to come back here often, simply because I used to use this space to store my opinions and assess them later - to monitor my state of mind during certain events and to grow from what I observe about myself in those pieces I had written.

I've missed having this place to come back to. I haven't been able to transfer this process to other places where I store my thoughts. But somehow, I do associate the Kenyan blogosphere with the events of early 2008. And I guess I don't like to come back here. My opinion of Kenya was changed so drastically, left huge holes and such a sense of loss in my heart. I got an inside view of Kenya and it was not pretty. I've been trying to overcome that; to see it as an isolated incident. Yet, I believe my hesitation is in the fact that I don't believe in its isolation. Somehow, I feel like my eyes were opened to an ugliness I didn't before have the ability to fathom within my own people. An ugliness I feel has not yet been explored, exposed, addressed or altered. I don't have to be right. I could simply be traumatized. But those are my feelings towards all that at the current time.

With all that said, I had to write my thoughts on the day after the constitution passed. I've talked to many Kenyans, young and old, Christian and not, super intelligent members of society to the regular Joes. It was interesting to hear other people's point of view on the constitution. One very super well to do, smarter mind of society actually argued that Kenya had no need for a new constitution. That what was wrong with kenya was its leadership and that if people were good, and elected only good leaders, all would be well. Now, duh! Isn't that a fact anywhere? Don't we put checks and balances because that is a utopian expecttaion? Don't we know human nature pushes its boundaries? A fact observed with children as they grow? It's an instinct, people get away with as much as they can. It is a survival instinct. Truth be told, this person is also a Christian religious zealot; and I believe we got to this point of view simply because they had run out of ways to justify their opposition to the new constitution.

I'm overjoyed but cautious. And my primary instinct is to call on fiscal responsibility with the implementation of this new constitution.

First, the pay for MPs must be dropped by more than 30%. I say this not because I know that our MPs are overpaid, but because it is prudent and justifiable to reduce pay within the new constuitution. If pay is to be commensurate with responsibility, smaller constituents indicate smaller portion of responsibility per person. Each MP will have less to worry about. And in that manner, one can justify a pay cut on that level. Generally speaking, the cost to run constituencies should at worst case, stay the same. An argument could effectively be made to reduce the cost. I'll admit this huge increase in governance costs was a concern to me. But I figured, if this is handled prudently, a paycut for all MPs should follow. And I chose faith. If Kenyans can get here, maybe they can can get to where they one day alter the cost to run the country so that it makes sense.

I'm of the school of thought that the amount of money spent to pass this referendum the second time around could generally have been spent to improve the first referendum. The naysayers both times were emotionally invested on the side of no. Anyone who has me figured out knows I detest emotional thinking; simply because it almost always kicks out common sense. I recall in 2005 asking a simple question, how many things are wrong? I was told 2 at most. I asked then, "can't they be resolved later?" And was advised 'no!' But this came from a then orange supporter and nothing I could do could get them to listen to anything other than voting against it. I write this, because there is a huge part of me that hopes many who voted no last time have had some time to reflect and see what their voting no has cost the country both in real shillings (the drafting of a new constitution is not cheap) and in missed opportunities. The point is, I hope it has been a learning opportuunity for many, to look inside, understand self more and become a better person. But I'm glad, that finally, the issues were debated and that finally change is nigh.

And I especially hope that Kenyans will learn how to vote wisely. In a country where Raphael Tuju was not reelected, besides having accomplished a great deal; but a host of do nothingers were reelected - I can't help but feel that Kenya has the leaders it deserves. We have to deserve different. And by that I mean we have to start voting for those who do right. Let the consequence match the action. Otherwise, we cannot justify our complaining when the MPs want to hike their own pay. And with no shame, highlight their out of touch attitudes. Can anyone please advise the Kenyan MPs that it is completely rude to the average kenyan, to complain that after all bills are paid, one has ONLY 50,000 to take home. Many Kenyans have way less than that to take home long before they paid huge mortgage and car payments. So frankly, shut up! Because it is rude and inconsiderate and ignorant to speak like that.

The tone of this almost reads like I might be angry. I just caught on to that. I don't feel that way at all. Actually, I feel very hopeful. Maybe the tone is a remnant effect of the fact that my emotions about Kenya are scattered. I love but don't trust or I trust cautiously or something close. It's complicated. Hopefully, next time I come back here I will have sorted that feeling out.

Whichever way, I wanted to say of Kenya, congratulations! Go ye forth and prosper! And I know God is on our side, no matter what those who claim we have kicked God out might think.

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