by Sammy Carlos Baraza
Before expressing my vision of Kenya in the 21st century let me begin by looking at the general situation prevailing in the country at present.
Thirty-five years after independence, Kenyans can be proud of some of the achievements this nation has attained over the years. We have a government that is recognized by the international community. The Kenyan society has displayed impressive progress in a wide range of professional fields. The country's infrastructure has expanded extensively over the years. Over fifty percent of the nation's population is now literate. Political stability and peace has won our nation a measure of respect and admiration.
Despite these accomplishments there are notable failings to be mentioned. On the political front, we are governed by a constitution that places power in the hands of a few individuals in the administration. The nation's electorate has no significant say in the country's decision making process. The leadership itself remains distant from the very citizens it governs. Corruption, ethnocentrism, inefficiency and mismanagement plague the current administration. The health sector is collapsing and diseases are rampant. Our infrastructure is pathetic. Insecurity reigns in several parts of the country. Citizens lack vital basic services. Our economy is on a decline and poverty has become widespread. At the rate the country's industrialization program is moving, achieving the industrialization target by the year 2020 appears to be a far-fetched dream.
There is an adage that states, "When venturing into the future, you either become worse or better off than you are today." How well these words reflect on our beloved nation as we approach the 21st century. Even though the prevailing situation in the country today does not hold out prospects for a bright outlook, we should not lose hope but pray, and visualize a better and brighter future. In hope dwells the capacity to overcome the worst.
What is my vision for the nation in the 21st century? First and foremost, I envision Kenya having a new constitution amended by the citizens. It will hopefully be a constitution that will advocate a democratic and pluralistic society. It is only on the basis of a properly established democratic constitution that any meaningful change can begin in our country. A new constitution will pave the way for a new enlightened leadership, a leadership that will have the interests of the common citizen at heart and will aim at improving the life of Kenyans, thus redeeming the honour and glory our nation has lost over the years. A leadership that will adopt and promote democratic principles of governance and will uphold human rights. A new administration that will advocate accountability at all levels of authority and do away with the sickening culture of ethnocentrism and corruption. The establishment of a democratic governance will indeed go a long way in restoring Kenyan's battered image abroad and restoring unity and pride among the nation's citizens.
By an enlightened leadership, I am referring to an administration that will identify where the priorities of our nation lie and act upon them. If we are endowed with a new enlightened leadership in the 21st century, there is hope that the new administration will make every effort to apply the necessary reforms and revamp the economy, thus restoring Kenya's economic strength. Our economic recovery will certainly not be achievable within a short span of time but a recovering economy will enable the administration to provide the required monetary input into vital sectors of the economy. A revamped economy will also regain much needed foreign investor confidence in the country.
With a recovering economy, I envision that the standard of living among Kenyans in the 21st century will improve significantly. Housing, water, electricity, health and other vital services ought to be available to a wider section of the public. An improving economy will also open the way for the rehabilitation and modernization of our existing infrastructure. With a carefully nursed economy, I see no reason as to why Kenya should not emerge as a leading economic power in the African continent in the 21st century.
The resuscitation of the economy will also rejuvenate our agricultural sector thus increasing Kenya's food production and eliminating the chronic and embarrassing food shortages experienced today. It will also make possible the overhaul of our educational system, making it more accessible to the majority of young Kenyans and improving the dismal conditions of our teachers and students.
With a firm economic foundation in place, I envision Kenya's industrial and technological sector experiencing a phenomenal expansion. By the mid 21st century the country ought to have a firm industrial and technological base in place, thus ranking Kenya among the most developed nations in the African continent.
Upgrading the proficiency and capability of the military establishment will bring about the emergence of Kenya as a regional superpower in the 21st century. By then, the Kenya Police Force ought to have been reorganized, thereby creating a thoroughly disciplined and professional establishment. With our police men and women having these qualities, we will have a force that citizens can be proud of, a force dedicated to the maintenance of security and order in the state.
Lastly, I envision Kenyan citizens emerging as a united, multi-racial people, free from the ills of discrimination and ethnocentrism, fiercely patriotic and proud of their nation. It is my sincere prayer that Kenyans will have learned to appreciate the need to live in love, peace and unity as emphasized to us by the late Father of the Nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
What needs to change in this country to realize this vision? Kenyans have to do away with the ignorance, fear and egocentrism that pervade our society today. We are well aware of the failings of our government but we are ignorant, fearful of advocating change or, more likely, we are willing to accommodate these failings in our own interest. If these vices are done away with we shall be able not only to bring about the desired changes to the existing constitution, but also to change the current leadership through the electoral process. A new constitution and a new government are the two main keys that will open the doors to tidal change in our beloved nation.
As a Kenyan what can I do to realize this vision? In the short term, I will shun ethnic considerations in my relationship with other fellow Kenyans. I will be patriotic at heart and place the welfare of our country first while avoiding self-centeredness. I shall strive to portray the best of moral character to other fellow Kenyans so that they may emulate me and in turn portray themselves as morally upright to others. In my professional career, whether serving the role of an employer or employee, I will strive to be efficient and provide the best of service to my fellow citizens. I will avoid and discourage all forms of corruption. I will join other Kenyans in manifesting our desire for political change in this country by peaceful means. In the next general election I will give my vote to the presidential candidate who will display the best qualities of leadership and of devotion to the rights of citizens. This will involve creating my own political party that will be christened the National Democratic Congress. With the latter party ticket I hope to receive the vote of my fellow citizens to enter parliament and later forward my candidature for the presidency.
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