Events this year have given many of us cause to think about important values and qualities that would propel this country beyond what has become a mere existence between elections that cause upheaval every 10 years or so.
Our national discourse has become increasingly cynical, and many Kenyans have lost the spark that gave them pride to be Kenyan, that allowed them to plan a grand future for their children and grandchildren.
Even in privileged circles, many are expressing despair that the country is headed to the dogs, and wondering if there is any way of getting us moving forward again.
In my opinion, the crisis is not only about our politics.
We have an existential crisis on our hands, characterised by the sense of loss of what it was that even remotely defined us as Kenyan.
We have a crisis of confidence; we do not trust that anyone will fulfil any promises they make.
We can no longer assume that we are safe in any space in this country, and even traditional safe havens such as places of worship and academia have been infiltrated by ethno-political chauvinists of all shades and colours.
For the avoidance of doubt, tribe, or even the glorification of any one tribe, is not the biggest problem in this country.
The problem is our dishonesty and overwhelming lack of integrity.
Ethnic chauvinists, who would otherwise be ostracised for their anti-humanist ideals, are embraced because they dishonestly present themselves as championing one cause or other, while clandestinely promoting an ideology of ethnic othering and even cleansing.
In an honest society, we would openly discuss this ideology and dismiss it with the contempt it deserves.
Unfortunately in today’s Kenya, we have difficulty sustaining conversation for more than a few moments, after which we are off seeking the next big thing.
This environment encourages the bigot to constantly reinvent himself for different occasions, knowing that our gnat-memoried population will not be able to link their obnoxious selves in ethnically homogenous settings to their urbane, suave selves in polite company.
The crisis of integrity will not be eliminated, as some imagine, by incorporating the teaching of certain values in our school curricula.
One remembers attempts by the counterfeit Nyayo “intellectuals” to teach “Social Education and Ethics” while writing tome after tome praising a despot whose own duplicity is legend.
This is the equivalent of “teaching” critical thinking by encouraging students to cram a text on the subject!
The crisis of integrity can only be addressed through modelling the right attitudes and behaviours, and only later explaining these in a classroom setting.
The country needs a critical mass of women and men of integrity who can become our new heroes, perhaps of our “third liberation” that would help us break free from the "thugocracy" that has taken hold of our governance systems.
The struggle today should not be against the idiots that use their ethnicity to claim divine rights to rule, but against the idea that allows them to survive both in their vile natural habitat and in more polished circles.
It cannot be that people of integrity are a perishing minority in this country.
Believing and accepting this idea is suicidal, and would rob all of us of any hope of a better future for our children.
As the world shrinks more and more, the most successful people on the world stage will be those focused on solving problems afflicting the disadvantaged majority.
Those focused on feeding their already swollen bellies and then spending the rest of the time staring into space thinking up more “deals” will find that the social space outside of this country will keep contracting around them, until eventually they will be of little use even to themselves.
We cannot allow the belief that you cannot get ahead in this country, even in professional fields, unless you “know someone” to grow into a self-replicating monster.
Our “Resistance” must not be directed against individuals or institutions that will one day wither and die, but against anti-integrity ideas and attitudes that would otherwise propagate themselves endlessly into our collective future.
Atwoli is Associate Professor and Dean, Moi University School of Medicine [email protected]