We must organise a national day of shame
Posted Friday, June 22 2012 at 18:38
The tragic death of ministers George Saitoti and Orwa Ojodeh and four police officers shocked the nation.
Shock was soon replaced by grief, which in turn gave way to anger. We may call for national days of mourning but we should really be having national days of shame.
It is a national shame when so many leaders are taken to an early grave through accidents that could be avoided through proper maintenance, care and respect for life.
In our complex and divided society, we firstly attribute such tragedies to our political opponents, and later succumb to suggestions that they were acts of God or just bad luck.
All the time we avoid responsibility and hold no individual or institution criminally responsible for negligence or recklessness.
A national day of shame would provide us with time to reflect on how we have lost our way in not putting the safety of Kenyans as number one priority in the nation.
We joke around with safety on the roads, in the air, in the buildings we construct and expect that the grace of God will keep us safe.
In a democratic society, the number one priority must be the pursuit of safety. Let us be honest and admit that despite all the progress in the last 50 years, we have not provided any reasonable degree of safety to Kenyans.
The daily news is continuously dominated by slaughter on the roads. You take your life in your hands every time you hit the tar and avoid the potholes.
The Constitution guarantees us the right to life but religious leaders are often more concerned with the rights of the unborn than about life between the womb and the tomb.
Fatalities have become so common that we have become fatalistic. Low morale has led to a lowering of our morals.
So we buried the Michuki rules with their creator, lowered our standards and lost our sense of outrage. We have given up on the value of safety and have taken the fragility and sacredness of the gift of life for granted.
Where did it all go wrong? Ultimately, we have trivialised violence, whether it be road carnage, lynching or politically organised clashes.
What we witness on a daily basis are the worrying products of a defunct and faulty political system. Starting from 1992 we have been duped to believe that election violence is normal and inevitable.
People have been killing ever since because they get away with it. The political elite both condone it and trivialise it. It does not have to be that way. We can reverse the worrying trend if we patiently work at it.
The other day I was delayed for 18 hours as Kenyan Airways repaired a faulty cargo door. That is the price of safety, although I was disappointed that chief executive officer Titus Naikuni abandoned his fellow passengers and took the faster option with another airline.
The other way is to punish severely those who commit violence on the roads, in constructing faulty buildings or those responsible for election violence.
That means that ultimately we need to promote the rule of law to secure our safety.