Monday, July 19, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

July 15, 2010

The third stanza of the preamble to the draft constitution is very clear. It calls on us, we the people of Kenya to be proud of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity and be determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation.

If all Kenyans of good will could read this stanza; if all Kenyans could appreciate our diversity, our uniqueness and see these diversities as our strengths, we would today not be thinking as Luos, Kalenjins, Kikuyus, Kisiis or Marakwets. In the same breadth, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and animists would embrace one another as members of one family rather than discriminate on the basis of religious dogma.

Let us face it; this referendum will come and pass just like the one we had in 2005. What will remain the same is Kenya no matter how politically divided it will be. Our motherland Kenya will be there on the morning of August 5 whether will like it or not. Whereas the referendum date will be a onetime event in the life of Kenyans in the year 2010, being Kenyans has become our way of life. This is the very reason we must celebrate ourselves and our country each morning we wake up to start another day.

We need to wake up on August 5 to face external challenges such as Al Shabaab terrorists that cannot lose sleep even when they choose to slaughter our innocent citizens in crowded places of worship. However, we can only marshal the capacity to face external attacks if we are united as a people.

In passing this constitution, Kenyans will wake up with renewed sense of vigor and energy. The new constitution will restore hope in the souls of many Kenyans now fatigued with the two decade search for a new dispensation. And whereas both sides of the divide should be ready to accept the outcome, the truth of the matter is, continued governance under this 50 year old constitution will disillusion many of our people. It will confirm to the rest of the world that no matter how much we try; no matter how long we take; we have proved that we are incapable of writing our own constitution acceptable to us as a nation. And a people that are not capable of agreeing on a major document like the law to govern them have no capacity to defend themselves against external aggression because they are thin on patriotism and low on nationhood.

The third stanza calls upon us to live in peace and unity as one indivisible nation despite our ethnic and religious diversity. If that is the case, it therefore does not add up if I can threaten my Kikuyu or Kalenjin neighbors to leave my Nyanza region merely because they have differed with me on the issue of abortion, a piece of land or the Kadhis’ courts. If we read the third stanza carefully, it implores us to be tolerant of one another irrespective of our diversity.

Right now, the ordinary people of Kenya are confronted with two dangerous enemies from two fronts. We have the enemy from within and one from without. The enemy of the people from within is our own Parliament, the institution we elect every five years to protect our interests and resources.

This enemy has become an ogre in our homestead. It has started devouring us without mercy. Yes, this ogre has acquired insatiable appetite for our public coffers. Much as we get taxed to our bones in order to have medicine in our hospitals, schools and books for our children, roads, bridges and security in our villages, our MPs have chosen that those basic things such as clean water in our villages can wait.

They have resorted to robbing our treasury in broad day light without blinking an eye. More worrying is the fact that the same honorable members sitting in that august house are the same leaders traversing the country preaching ethnic division and hatred amongst our communities.

When I look at the behavior of our political leaders, I wonder why the new constitution did not bar any Kenyan aspiring to be a member of parliament from seeking a Parliamentary election in his or her village or even province. It is this parochial village representation in our electoral politics that has messed our democratic institutions.

We should have introduced a clause that would make it impossible to localize elective posts like representation to the National Assembly. We should have insisted that whoever wanted to be a member of the National Assembly would have to prove that he or she was a nationalist in the first place.

Imagine a Kenya where a Turkana would go and seek to be elected an MP for Alego or where a Kalenjin would seek election in Mandera and a Luo would campaign in Kirinyaga to be elected their MP! That is the Kenya I’m yearning for.

Yes, we need this constitution so that we can get our country back and more importantly so that we can be united again as a nation to confront the enemies from within and without.