The aspirations of Kenya’s founding fathers were to end illiteracy, disease and poverty. Have we achieved these noble goals? If not, where did we go wrong?
Let us examine each goal. On illiteracy, are all our children learning? Do all children have equal access to education? Do schoolchildren have equal access to resources, including quality teachers? Do we have children not going to school because of the insecurity in Baringo, Turkana and West Pokot? Do we have children still learning under trees in West Pokot?
Do we have children not going to school because they lack fees? Yes, this is the daily experience of some of our children in Kenya. And what has happened to our higher education system? Today, almost every town has a shop called a university campus. On these campuses hardly do you find well-equipped libraries, computer labs, quality lecturers and quality classrooms.
What is wrong with the professors who are the vice-chancellors of these universities? Do we have the vision for this country, this generation and the generations to come? Why produce university graduates who cannot transform societies or solve the many problems facing the people today? Why are we creating a huge disconnect between industry and universities and between societies and universities? What are the values driving us? Who should deal with all this mess?
Two, our nationalists wanted to see a country free of diseases. Are we there yet? Are our health facilities equipped with enhanced facilities? Do our health facilities have enough qualified personnel?
I agree, a lot has been done to establish health infrastructure in Kenya. The initiatives include the mobile health clinics provided by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s Beyond Zero campaign and others by private health providers. The national government has also equipped hospitals with medical facilities.
However, some of our hospitals lack the expertise to use these state-of–the-art facilities and the technicians to service them. Also, the level of services is below the people’s expectations; and even doctors do not offer the services needed.
I am left wondering whether ethics are embedded in the culture of doctors or nurses? If not, can this be included in their training syllabus? Do we still value sanctity of life today? Who should be a doctor or a nurse? A lot still needs to be done to achieve this goal.
Three, our founding fathers dreamt of a world where every person would get the basic needs for survival such clean water, food, shelter and security. Needed is a life in which every person has greater choices and is able to achieve their full potential. Are we there or will it happen someday? Or is this a utopian world?
It is disheartening to see young men and women missing opportunities to serve their nation in their prime. It is the responsibility of any legitimate government to tap these immense resources to build the nation. This is the only way we can achieve prosperity for all.
This being an election year, people aspiring to lead are coming up with their manifestos, seeking to transform Kenya into a prosperous nation. Most often, focus on the development of the hardware (roads, railway lines, airports, and so on) at the expense of the software (health, education, quality of life).
We should make our leaders accountable. We should choose leaders based on their quality and ability to lead (vision for the country) and not their tribe, gender, caste or race. We should choose leaders capable of making quality social policies; capable of using taxes prudently; capable of serving people equitably; and capable of transforming Kenya into a developed country.
That is the Kenya we want. That is Kenya the coming generations will want. It is the responsibility of all Kenyans to rise to the occasion. It is the responsibility of all Kenyans to achieve this noble vision. It is sad that many of our leaders are not living up to this call.
Greed has become the order of the day. One wants to acquire houses in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kampala, San Jose, New York City and every other city at the expense of the people’s well-being as if they are not mortal beings. They will leave this generation and the coming with a weak nation. This has to change. We should have a vision to advance our well-being. Yes, we have the resources to achieve this.
In the words of St Vincent, bad leadership is like a disease that eats the lives of the people. But it is the same people who choose the bad leaders. They are to blame for bad leadership.
This is a challenge to all Kenyans as we head to the August 8 elections. Let us choose leaders who can be servants of the people, who have the vision and who will transform the country into a magnificent, prosperous and peaceful land. Indeed, these people are there among us. Let us just choose them wisely.
Mose is a PhD student and researcher at the University for Peace in Costa Rica; [email protected]