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During his Madaraka day state address this year on June 1st, President Uhuru Kenyatta invited Kenyans to a national dialogue. This dialogue included the reflection of where we are as a country and how we got here. …..”a progressive Nation is one that is in continuous conversation with itself” he proclaimed. He also invited us to ponder on the paradox and the consequences of our choices.

As we consider the invitation we are reminded of some of the moments in our history when our country found itself on a cross road and some of the choices that were made by past generations and how those choices affected the country and its people. 

The generation of the 1940s looked at a country chocking with the tyranny of the colonial administration and the atrocities that were committed to Kenyans and decided that it was upon them to gift their children and the future Generations, a country that was free from the colonial rule.

This Generation of our founding fathers used unconstitutional and extra legal means and began the fight for freedom. They were killed, arrested, tortured, raped but they were unrelenting in their pursuit for freedom and self rule. And so on June 1st 1963 the colonial government finally gave in and declared independence for Kenya. 

That generation was not perfect but they dreamed of a perfect country that would constantly move towards perfecting its imperfections.

The Generation of the 1980s looked at a country that was bleeding from one party rule. A rule that did not allow people to dream and imagine a better country. This generation took it upon itself to organize, demonstrate and agitate, mostly in what was termed then as unconstitutional and extralegal means.  

They succeeded to push the boundaries of freedom and in 1991/2 section 2A of the constitution were repealed and Kenya became a multiparty state. The democratic freedoms we enjoy today is courtesy of that generation.

That generation too was faced with challenges. In the course o the struggle, some died others were arrested some were tortured and others were exiled. But even with all the persecutions, they remained adamant that the dreams of the founding fathers of creating a more free country had to be achieved. 

But since 1992 we have continuously failed to diagnose, acknowledge and fix the constant problem that has remained as the biggest hindrance to the development, social and economic fabric of our country. We have failed to fix our politics.

The problem was only acknowledged in 2008 after 1,500 Kenyans died and over 500,000 others were displaced in their own country, suffering daily indignities and some were left with lifelong scars. 

The national Reconciliation team that was set up recommended a raft of measures, Key among them was the enactment of the “National Accord and Reconciliation act of 2008” that created an expanded executive and Reintroduced the position of Prime Minister and two deputies. 

This created a sense of peace and calmness and the rapid economic and development growth experienced in Kenya then was attributed to the enactment of that act and what came with it.

But perhaps the closest we came to a lasting solution to our political problem was what was contained in Agenda number 4 of the National accord that recommended the creation of several commissions among them;

1. National Cohesion and integration Commission (NCIC)

2. Interim Independent electoral commission (IIEC)

3. Interim Independent Boundaries reviews Commission (IIBRC)

4. Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court (IICDRC) and

5. Committee of Experts (COE) created under the Constitutional  Amendment Bill 2009

None of these entities were provided by our laws before, but the Doctrine of civil Necessity was applied. It was necessary for the common good of the Kenyan people and as a means of achieving cohesion and integration.

I invite you to read the book titled “KENYA, Bridging Ethnic Divides” by Alice Wairimu Nderitu a former commissioner with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission NCIC and one of the co-founders of the civil society platform called “Uwiano Platform for peace”.

Recently we have been invited into the BBI debates and whether the process was constitutional or not. Our 2010 constitution was compiled by a committee of experts.

Perhaps what the president is inviting us to ponder about is what this generation of 2021 will do to undo some of the bottlenecks of the 2010 constitution that have created more divisions in the elusive formula for shared prosperity and ethnic integration.

Perhaps there was wisdom with the Kofi Anan Team of 2008 that drafted the National Accord and expanded the Executive to acknowledge our tribal politics and try to Bridge the Ethnic Divides in our Politics. 

This is the dialogue we are all invited to engage in and to ask ourselves whether we will shoulder the burden of the consequence of our choices. 

Juma Hemedi

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