Kenyans vote every five years to elect leaders who will hold various constitutional offices as representatives of the people for a term.
With a history of regressing in our successes in political magnanimity, brotherhood, and nationhood whenever the election season rolls around, one question Kenyans must consider is if we are investing enough as a people to reap the much-desired peace dividend.
Peace and stability provide us with protection and security in our personal spaces as well as in our various communities. It enables us to continue with the critical mission of nation-building. This indicates that a flourishing Kenya is something we all want to see. Anyone intending on sabotaging this unity or sowing strife for whatever reason should be held rejected and held accountable at the ballot.
Choosing a political leader can be the most liberating civic duty on behalf of one’s country and countrymen when done based on merit and integrity. Those who wish to run for these delegated seats must understand that political leadership is a vocation to serve the nation. Even in acquiescence, a political leader’s job is to gradually secure and improve our collective way of life.
Citizenship in any peaceful nation is also a privilege in many respects. It suggests that everyone has a responsibility and a duty of care. Peacebuilding, national cohesiveness, and combating political backwardness must consequently be embraced by all, particularly the youth.
To build up the Kenyan pride, we must first pledge allegiance to Kenya, its people, and our national values, as defined in Article 10 of the Kenya Constitution, 2010, on National Values and Principles of Governance.
This commitment may be as simple as rejecting the “cash for votes” culture on an individual level. It may mean rejecting the ‘mtu wetu’ syndrome, which is riddled with politics of division at the local level, or it may mean working in earnest to slay the demon of ‘kitu kidogo’ at the national level.
Embracing the ‘Wajibu Wangu’ rallying call of the Mkenya Daima initiative and which refers to a sense of calling and duty in championing the political and economic change we want to see for Kenya, means living up to the true spirit of the National Anthem, which preaches Love, Peace, and Unity as espoused in the first stanza that says;
Ee Mungu nguvu yetu, llete baraka kwetu,
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi, Natukae na udugu, Amani na uhuru, Raha tupate na ustawi
Natujenge taifa letu, Ee ndio walibu wetu,
Kenya istahili heshima, Tuungane mikono pamoja kazini, Kila siku tuwe nashukrani.
Amkeni ndugu zetu, Tufanye sote bidii,
Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu, Nchi yetu ya, Kenya tunayoipenda, Tuwe tayari kuilinda.
This is the trade-off we must make to maintain peace, development, and stability, which can only be achieved by equal tolerance of differing viewpoints and of one another. To do so, we need to improve civic education, starting with a thorough understanding of the Kenya Constitution 2010, the rights, and advantages it bestows on citizens, and the roles and responsibilities we all share as one people.
For effective political change to occur, young people must be encouraged to participate in competitive politics, beginning with increasing their numbers within political party membership. This is a vital element of our democracy that must be strengthened and encouraged to create a critical mass of young and active change-makers who will rethink and influence how our politics are conducted in the future.
While voting is a personal choice, the consequence is collective, meaning that good or bad leadership will have an equal impact on all of us. As Mkenya Daima, we believe that it is possible to make peace and cohesiveness a long-term and tangible result of our five-year election cycles. Let us vote for peace and prosperity for our land and nation on August 9th, 2022.
The writer; Dr. Vimal Shah is the Chairman of the Mkenya Daima Initiative Steering Committee.