Kenya’s 50th birthday celebration slated for next year is supposed to be a major event that should evoke tears of patriotic joy and pride for all Kenyans.
But why do I get the feeling that this milestone in our history might just pass like any other public holiday? Why is there so much despondency about our golden jubilee?
The answer to that question is in the air. There is a cloud hanging over the country, and no one can say for certain in which direction it will drift. Everyone has an opinion, and everywhere people are discussing the cloud. Yet no one can say for sure if it is going to rain.
The talk on the streets, in bars, in places of worship and in the media all seems to revolve around the downpour that hit the country at the end 2007 — the violent thunderstorm that claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people and devastated the lives and livelihoods of countless others. It was a freak storm like we had never imagined could hit our country.
The 2007-2008 deluge came with thunder and lightning, and it caught the nation flat-footed.
Although many people claim to have seen it coming, very few expected its ferocity. At the height of the torrent, the nation braced itself for the very worst.
The wind blew in all directions, and at one point, it threatened to sweep everyone and everything into the sea.
And then, as suddenly as it had started, the tempest stopped, and the wind died down. In its wake, it left a nation confused, disorganised and groping in the dark to rebuild its identity.
Like a shattered girl emerging from the horror of a rape ordeal, Kenya staggered to her feet, crying, cold and wishing the whole incident had been just a bad dream. But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t a dream at all. It was real. We had lost our innocence, and deep inside, we knew we had no one to blame but ourselves.
Four-and-a-half years have gone by since. From the outside, the country looks like it has made a remarkable recovery.
Yet, for many, beneath the façade of normalcy, we all know there are some ugly wounds that are yet to heal.
And so, on the eve of our big birthday party, we all stand, looking at the sky — watching as clouds gather momentum. Somewhere in the distance, we hear the rumble of thunder. Yes, the rain is coming.
We look at each other with troubling questions in our eyes. Could this really happen again? Could this be the storm that the prophet, the retired Justice Johann Kriegler, warned us about?
Could this be the big one that would make the storm of 2007 seem like a picnic?
And the questions keep piling up. Why is the coming presidential election being contested so hotly when we have gone into a devolved system?
Wasn’t the whole idea of devolution to reduce power at the centre and push it down to the people? Has something changed, or did we miss something?
Where are these politicians getting their billions to fund their campaigns? And, by the way, why is the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) beginning to sound and look so much like the defunct ECK that bungled the last elections?
Why is the Commission remaining silent about the heated campaigns that are already going on in spite of the fact that the time for campaigning has not been officially announced?
Why are parliamentarians mutilating the Constitution as though it were some draft school paper that needs editing?
Again, we hear the thunder. This time, it sounds like the voice of God speaking to us. “Where is your brother?” He asks.
For a moment, no one speaks. We all know what He is talking about. He is asking us about the IDPs.
Somewhere in the crowd a cocky voice shouts out, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The thundering voice of God comes back through the cloud, and we all hear it. “This time,” He says angrily, “you are on your own”.
Mr Ondeng is a leadership consultant and author of “Africa’s Moment” (pete.ondeng @gmail.com)