THE THIRD PERSUASION: JUST NOT JUBILEE OR CORD

“These two formations though, are morphing into entities that will pose the greatest challenge to Kenya; Jubilee; a ruthless machinery, keen on preserving its hold onto power, but dangerously unconscious to the need of nationhood; CORD, a scheme of frustrated ambition able to give a shot at their dreams at any expense”

With the high court ruling that only three political parties will benefit from the 205 Million Political Parties Kitty, smaller parties must be wondering how they will survive. Indeed, some have already started moving from expensive offices in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi to way humbler locations. With funds obtained from party nominations exhausted, pilfered or mismanaged, a familiar circle of party deaths is coming full circle. Such has been the predictability of our politics, a certain gifting of each electoral cycle.
The elections of 2013 managed to realize another goal though, a resurgence of the Oginga-Kenyatta rift that seems to defy each political cycle. These two cleavages have then gone forth to cement cliques around themselves and Jubilee and Cord were born. Each drawing their depth from shared distrust, and fueled by a burning pursuit of political power.
Any political contest is founded on a desire for power. A people centered political contest will add a hope; that with power one can influence a society to better ends, to that desire. Jubilee and Cord are formations that have shown that they ascribe to the former, a raw pursuit of political power with the real issues affecting people playing an impressively peripheral role.
As I write this, I have just concluded reading the National Development Party (NDP) 1997 manifesto. NDP then was a Tinga affair, and I must admit I am impressed. That manifesto, unlike anything glossy today had a real touch of what truly affected people. And indeed, many items it bore today have been anchored in the constitution. In comparison, ODM as a party is miles away in thought to be close to what NDP espoused. How time can kill real leadership.
Raila’s inability however to hold onto the spark that once characterized him is not a surprise. The man has criticized and dined with the system. He has sought it, grasped it before it was snatched away. He has been in the system, betrayed it, and destroyed it, before he was again ejected out. This mix would create a natural confusion I must admit.
But with this confusion, as the chief protagonist, his brigade finds itself frustrated by an evasive quest for power that they have started following the very paths they castigated. Indeed, if there is a fear I nurture today, is the impatience of Kenya’s opposition. Their acts, strategies and initiatives point to a nearing of desperation. Probably, an acceptance that belief in the idealism is not paying off, and that perhaps it is time for raw politics; value-less, just politicking.
So Kenya is at interesting times; a government that is struggling to find the heart of its people; consumed by raw pursuit of individual advancement, and an opposition that is impressively blank, unable to offer any credible alternative.
Yet, we have been lumped into these two formations politically. Our taxes only recognize them, as the sole representatives and bearers of the Kenyan dream.
It would be hypocritical to paint a picture that nothing is working. I mean we have seen quite some progress. Recently, we reviewed our data and pushed ourselves into lower middle level income nations; beautiful statistics. Even though it has no correlation with my daily bread, it attracts a certain pride to be told we are among ‘top-ten’ economies in Africa. This ‘top-ten’ business was such an issue in my primary school days. We at least have very high literacy levels, a president who takes selfies, so yes, a few things are working.
Both the current and past regimes have invested in real pieces of development. The road network is set to be upgraded and funds set aside for the youth. Whether the fanfare around this translates to real results is another question; likely, in my opinion to be answered in the negative.
But a country’s leadership must always know the season of its people. There will always emerge a single problem in the development of a country where if overcome, a trajectory of sustained growth becomes irreversible. Kenya’s at the moment is our inability to pull together as a people.
I have held an opinion that Kenya’s best moments occur when we pull together. In my own view, the independence government before rifts emerged, the initial stages of the NARC government and the grand coalition government offered real hope that Kenya would take off. Their collapse also necessarily meant a halt to the real progress towards a sustainably stable country.
A fundamental question therefore that we need to ask ourselves is whether the current two formations have the ability to rally Kenya together.
The faces leading the two formations are unable to unite us for many reasons. The fact of Kenyattaism and Odingaism is just as dividing to the opponents as is unifying to the supporters. The two graves excite love and hate in equal measure, and so whether their sons desire a united country or not, they just can’t be the vessel towards that unity.
This is not an entirely new notion. Even Biblically, even though David desired to build God a temple, the fact of him was too controversial for God to allow it.
But whether Raila or Uhuru truly wills a united Kenya is equally a fact in this. The two and their immediate brigade draw their support from their ethnic enclaves. If politics transcends ethnicity in Kenya, the very existence of the two dynasties becomes threatened. And so, it is in their interest to have a nation polarized, and that informs the political rhetoric that has characterized the two fronts.
Admittedly, CORD and Jubilee have several people who will be willing to commit to national unity. But the shadows of the dynasties will always overshadow any of this initiative.
These two formations though, are morphing into entities that will pose the greatest challenge to Kenya; Jubilee; a ruthless machinery, keen on preserving its hold onto power, but dangerously unconscious to the need of nationhood; CORD, a scheme of frustrated ambition able to give a shot at their dreams at any expense. And sadly, all of them are recruiting youthful vigor into the callousness and desperation they are.
A normal Kenyan, who would like to belong, and have their struggles and prosperity found in a stable nation may not find their aspirations expressed here. A Kenyan who dreams of unity, shared challenges and shared dreams will rarely see the expression of this hope in the two formations. A Kenyan, who hopes that public good can characterize the pursuit and exercise of power, knows that Jubilee and Cord does not represent their hope.
So certainly, there must be a third persuasion. There must be a politics that truly deserves the honor of our taxes. There must be a leader not tarnished by the baggage of yesterday, or so deep a prisoner of interest who can inspire us to nationhood.
When Uhuru Kenyatta became president, I thought his stature would have overcome the confines of the system. History has a few examples of leaders who are nurtured by the system, but ended up disobeying them to the good of the people. Beyond the charm Uhuru has brought to the presidency, is certainly still chained to unfortunate interests.
Further, the interest that jubilee is rekindling in the presidency, casting it as central to everything revives the very ghosts that Kenya hoped to run away from by decentralizing power. Why, the presidency would re-emerge in this new dispensation as a powerful player to everything points to two things. A mindset that is deeply rooted in the past unable to transition to Kenya’s aspired spirit and secondly a deliberate dismissal of the intentions of the drafters of Kenya’s new order.
And while the opposition should have taken this chance and demonstrated what true belief in institutionalized reforms would look like, it has started a new clamor for change of system of government; a politically expedient quest. Merit notwithstanding, no society can afford the luxury of such frequent transitions.
And so Kenya is yet again with a politics that is not in sync with her aspirations. And I as a young Kenyan fail again to see a leadership that expresses my aspirations. I think it is time to for a Third Persuasion.

CONTEXTUALIZING HEROISM: WE JUST CANT RELIVE HISTORY

So a real modern hero, will have to understand that the oppression we suffer is our inability to invest in institutions and even more to have confidence in the once we create. A modern hero in my opinion is the one who will be bold to lead our people through real pain, banking on our resilience as we break our chaining to inefficiency. One who will say we bear the responsibility for our own growth without excusing our failure by blaming endless conspiracies. My real Kenyan hero, will be the one who learns from the values that founded our struggles, without attempting to live those times.

Today, Kenya celebrates Mashujaa day. A national holiday set forth to honor men and women who contribute to the collective growth of our nation. The people whose personal achievements bring honor and repute to our country, people who sacrifice their own comfort to see that others’ plights alleviated.

Hero has an indo-European provenance with its root ‘ser which essentially means protect. Indeed, notions of heroism seem to find their validation in acts of bravery when adversity befalls a section of humanity. A hero therefore, from both an etymological and contemporary perspective, is a person who steps forth when there is a gap to give a profound contribution that benefit more than their person.

Our country Kenya has distinguished names. Jomo Kenyatta, Jaramogi Odinga, Tom Mboya, Wangari Maathai, Tecla Loroupe, Humphrey Khayange. Political or other preferences notwithstanding, these are names that evoke a certain feeling of admirable achievement. Jomo Kenyatta, the fact of him being the founding father of this nation or Maathai, the fact of her fighting for the environment.  Our sportspersons give us an insatiable desire to associate with them. The fact of their winning brings honor to us. They become our heroines and heroes.

A society therefore will choose to see an act as heroic depending on many reasons. Whether it draws pride, confers benefits or even absurdly if it satiates sometimes mundane desires.

One permanent feature though, is that these persons become some benchmarks of sorts. They offer an achievement or guidance that secures both today and tomorrow. So the future generations or even the current are referred to their exploits as sample-paths to take. Some of heroic stories inspire current exploits. So a young politician may decide to strive for Kenyatta’s charisma or a young athlete wish to exceed Kipchoge’s fame. In a way, the values, standing and choices of those we regard as heroes become spirits that breathe life into our own fights.

This got me thinking. Most of the time history has a sense of beauty. Humanity has always been hesitant to document its failures. So it exalts the niceties that exist at any instance. Of course, the very fact of human documentation means, history is fraught of subjective perceptions and individual judgments.

So when it is suggested that the versions of history we are taught was heavily revised to favor my nation’s own agenda, hiding its crime and in doing so fostering an unrealistic sense of false patriotism to corporate entity government, I silently agree with it. It is just human.

So anytime a character from the past has been mentioned with a glowing value around them, I have chosen to give cautious admiration. Because the picture will just never be complete. But that admiration in itself is complete. For even with the revision and hiding, any documentation is justified to the extent that it serves a certain purpose. So if my history is doctored to create supermen, if the fact of that creation motivates the existence of supermen in years to come, so be it.

I suppose this may be construed as complacency, no. I have chosen to question history many times. But as a young African, I choose to have trust in the history I was taught. The tales of Anako afote who fought for the independence of my country. I choose the beauty in the names of Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Mandela. I think I love the bravery of Dedan Kimathi that if it were a lie, I would rather it, than a different truth.

Well, I needed to dissuade myself from trying to question history, before I could move to the substance of my writing.

What made Kimathi a hero? What made Loroupe a heroine?

Their acts revolved around a context. When a people’s freedom and wealth were taken away from them and a free people forced to become subjects to foreign masters, it was necessary to revolt. And anyone who led this revolt served to gift their generation and states a service that was extra-ordinarily valuable. They became heroes and heroines.

And so in this, the names of Kenyatta, Amilcar Cabral, Kenneth Kaunda or Nelson Mandela will forever stand exalted on the African shelf.

These people shouted away invasion. They sought freedom for their people. A pursuit which in many ways is the only inherent desire of any human being. The oppression they fought against was the actual presence of foreigners who loaded it over them. And this was a genuine pursuit. For this was a struggle across Africa, a feeling of solidarity was conceived. I have been never able to place the real reason of this birth. Was it a mutual craving for freedom or shared hate for whites.

Elite-led struggles can be full of deception. But the dwindling of Pan Africanism suggests, perhaps it was a shared hate. For a yearning for freedom is essential, it is an ideal that would have bound us together forever.

Voices of Pan Africanism have started to emerge. But the solidarity we seek today, in my view is not creating any value for posterity. From Kenya, to Uganda through West Africa, there are calls to get African problems solved by Africans. This is indeed extra ordinarily true. We have as Africans to solve our own issues.

But as we seek to assert ourselves, I believe we must contextualize our struggles. Kenyatta snr was justified to say Kenya should be left for Kenyans. Season and time allowed it. Environment allowed it. Then, internet was but an idea, today, America could be hacked by a Nairobi educated youth from the comfort of their village.

The reality of today is that shouting away other state’s interest is an unrealistic endeavor; in fact a hypocritical one.

A true modern African Political hero is the one who shall be honest enough to tell our people, that we shall not succeed unless we truly assert our greatness in the context; the context of globalization. That modern Pan Africanism should never be crafted around shouting away other nations, but by asserting the spirit of African excellence on the global stage.

In my own opinion, we are a resilient continent. Africa has faced the worst that humanity can face. Yet we retain an admirable optimism. We walk kilometers to school, yet we give the world amongst the best of the brains. And Kenya as a country, exemplifies these values even more pronouncedly.

So a real modern hero, will have to understand that the oppression we suffer is our inability to invest in institutions and even more to have confidence in the once we create. A modern hero in my opinion is the one who will be bold to lead our people through real pain, banking on our resilience as we break our chaining to inefficiency. One who will say we bear the responsibility for our own growth without excusing our failure by blaming endless conspiracies. My real Kenyan hero, will be the one who learns from the values that founded our struggles, without attempting to live those times.

A modern hero, to my truly African heart, must tell me the truth; that I am just as responsible for the failure of my society as my government. And that the success of a nation is a reflection largely of individual effort complimented minimally by the workings of state. And so that I have a responsibility, in all little bits, to be the hero, that my time calls me to be.

.Lone Felix OnwardHappy Mashujaa Day, to those who live the spirit of honest struggle

LETTER TO LIFE: THE SEVENTH CONVERSATION; A BEGINNING END

“But then, this would mean, that perhaps the truest measure of ourselves is ourselves. For how will men, who are susceptible, no, who do not have a choice most of the time but to believe what they see or hear, know your heart.
So then, if we need a better of ourselves, we have to daily struggle to question our hearts. To implore our conscience and judgment to life. To live others. To forget self. To believe in the discomfort of our own judgment”

The last six times we have spoken, I have always been motivated by many things. Sometimes hate, sometimes disappointment, sometimes threads of disillusionment. Today, as I sit down to start writing, I do not have any particular emotion. From a far, there are tingles of gratefulness, fatigue, acceptance, disappointment; there are threads of self satisfaction, an anxiety but in a big way; a feeling of learning.
As you know, in the history of our twofold life, I have never ended a conversation without a conclusion. Recall those times when I retreat to talk to self, or to question my ideas? I have always endeavored to conclude our talk. Because whenever I confide in you, without ever finishing it, it sets endless emptiness.
I have published four of our conversations; three remain in the secrecy of our twofold. I know at the right time, they will be released. To a people who, as I stated when we started, will interpret them through their own scales. I have always found extreme relief in the candor we share. And so today, I intend to share with you again; a pursuit of that same relief, seeking the strength of renewal. Perhaps, like I am coming to believe, a confirmation that one face of my journey is done, and I have to start again.
The sixth conversation was lessons. I wrote then, having been taught by you to know the emptiness that follows a raw pursuit of ambition. Then you taught me life, that trueness of life lives in value of people. I feel like this chat will have an uncharacteristic detachment. For here, I want to talk to you about the intricacies of opportunity, the confusions that chance brings when it happens. Actually, my feeling was wrong, there won’t be a detachment, it’s a realization that the idealism I once nurtured has been molded by experience, to be stronger.
So what is this end that I anticipate? Of course, I have had one invaluable year of service to my peers. Of course, I have had four years of schooling. Of course, I have had a season of making decisions. That comes to an end with unexpected transition to more challenge, to further schooling. Such is a moment of self evaluation.
I must stop the free flow of my thoughts and look back. Well, it has been a fascinating year. Two very important things happened to me since we last spoke; I understood my values as a person better. And I found love. So idealistic again. What, the encounter with extreme realities have failed to make me a realist. This gives me a sense of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Satisfaction in knowing that I still have a root to what formed the root of struggles, but also a dissatisfaction in knowing that I was unable to transition to what my raw mind believes is a better life.
Life, a year ago, I took an oath of office. It was the second time I was swearing to take a responsibility. I will not dwell here on my encounters at office, for that very oath bounds me to secrecy. I will not dwell here on my own view of the year or the view of others. I have countless fond memories of that year and countless sad memories. I am unimaginably enthralled by multiple bits of joy, but unimaginably tied to countless bits of disappointment.
For a year, I have had a chance to see someone walk to me with their hopes pegged to the very words I would say. In my inexperience, I got confused countless moments. It is always the desire of each leader to solve each issue that comes your way. But what an unfortunate desire it is.
At first, I recall the times I would go home in a thousand pieces. Each concern would take a bit of me. Then I got shaken in knowing that I each day I may have to disappoint. Thank God for Gabriel, he made me know one thing.
Human beings, no matter the problem they face, always have a solution with themselves. And in the business of leading, the best and most sacred thing to do is to inspire that solution.
So where is my friend Erick; the person who embodied this lesson. I think I passed him on stairs in the haste that now is my life.
I have come to learn, that perhaps the greatest duty of a leader is to listen. How paradoxical, the illusion could be that as a leader you speak, and get listened to. But whenever one does that, all you get is an echo of your talk as it bounces against the many issues that will always be with the people.
Indeed, listening is an art that plays magic. In most instances, when you listen to people, what they want they confess themselves. So I had to conquer the fear of being unable to listen because I may not help. I had to believe that well, I would listen and hope that solutions would curve themselves. I do not know whether it is too early to conclude, but maybe the greatest lesson I have today is that the greatest leader is he who can be led easily. Again; Ideal. He who will be listened to is he who listens. Again; ideal. But I also learnt, that listening is the boldest step anyone would take, for men are so wired to listen to what they like, but, mostly what you listen to will never be what you like.
I need to go back to the streams of my thoughts.
About the revelation of myself to me, and about the defiance to become a realist. You see, chance is one crazy thing. You seek it, so hard, then it happens, often with curtailing realities. But I guess it is nature’s way of ensuring we keep being at it. That we will never be satisfied. For again as I said, satisfaction breeds stagnation.
Life, I would like to really wonder as to what men should do in living with others. You see, when I say am just a man, it means my confidence gets pumped up when a brother walks with me. It means It shrinks when a brother walks me. Yet, in life, so many times you are walked.
Indeed I know why. Men are burden by their own struggles to have time to think of what they see or hear. So they buy what they are told. It is not an entirely bad thing. Industries have been born out of this void; industries of people whose work is to create perception. How sorry, I wish we all bothered to question, a lot more would be different.
But such will always be impossible. For the world must also be founded on a certain level of trust. And that, perhaps means a certain level of not questioning. Such is a paradox of what is right in life.
As I question myself more, I realize the complexity of what is universally right is so simple. The paradox has two different ends. Competing, conflicting, all right in differing context. I guess, the easiest revelation that man should know then, is that right is in the balancing. In the knowing the time, the season and the reason. That right is in being of pure intent and facing reality as that, reality. That principle and value is not exemplified in absolute rigidity, but being rigid as to know that each season has its call.
Perfect principle of a leader, life your reveal to me, is knowing that the next second is a fluid as he has never seen, and that it has to be construed with its own uniqueness and peculiarity, but that this has to be done with a consistency of heart. Such is the simplicity of the paradox of what is right.
But then, this would mean, that perhaps the truest measure of ourselves is ourselves. For how will men, who are susceptible, no, who do not have a choice most of the time but to believe what they see or hear, know your heart.
So then, if we need a better of ourselves, we have to daily struggle to question our hearts. To implore our conscience and judgment to life. To live others. To forget self. To believe in the discomfort of our own judgment.
I feel that I should not proceed, indeed, the 8th conversation is just by. So I Stop. Just like I feared, for the first time without a conclusion. May be, it is time for another pursuit of lessons