Unless there is liberty and justice for all, there is liberty and justice for none. — Hubert Humphrey
This past week I had the privilege of speaking at the second National Dialogue Conference hosted by Kofi Annan in Nairobi.
For those who have some beef with Annan and Moreno-Ocampo, I assure you the conference was not about the two gentlemen, who incidentally enjoy widespread global acclaim meritoriously earned in the course of their respective service to humanity.
The meeting was about Kenya; looking back at where we are coming from, projecting into the days ahead, with special focus on the reform momentum propelled by the new Constitution.
I found the discourse supremely enlightening. But, as the conference concluded on Friday, I could not help but wonder whether we really are on track.
You see, our constitutional moment last August was truly epochal, akin to crossing the Rubicon. We took a huge step of faith, and declared unequivocal intent to break free of all historical shackles that have held us hostage for decades.
That single momentous step irrevocably changed the course of our national odyssey, firmly putting us on the path of renaissance. But Will Rodgers warns that even if you are on the right track, you will be run over if you just sit there!
Have we rested on our laurels since August 27 when we celebrated the dawn of our second republic with so much pomp and flourish?
Are the progressive forces that powered the reform ship ceding ground to regressive pirates of impunity and status quo? Having overwhelmed the armada of evil, did the legions of good go to slumber and allow the vanquished musketeers of malevolence to regroup and launch retaliatory strikes?
Perhaps I am suffering from acute paranoia, but I do read some really worrying signs in the air. The process of implementing the Constitution has been stuck in the rut for two weeks now, the initially buoyant balloon having been pricked by the unrelenting tempest over the proposed 80 new constituencies.
The skies are darkening even more menacingly as jitters over Ocampo set in and 2012 political temperatures start to spiral to the high heavens.
Alarm bells are also ringing on the security front, sharply brought into focus by the daring twin assaults on police officers in Nairobi’s Eastleigh and Roysambu environs last Friday that left three officers dead and another two fighting for their lives.
Our circumstances are increasingly becoming akin to the imagery in the mind of poet William Yeats when he wrote: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre, The falcon cannot bear the falconer; things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...”
It must be moments such as these that inspired E.G. White to bemoan that “the greatest want of the world is the want of men.
Men who cannot be bought or sold. Men whose hearts are true and honest; men who can call sin by its name; men whose conscience is true to duty as a needle is to the pole; men who can stand for the truth, though the heavens fall”.
Without sounding alarmist, I must say that Kenya today stands at a crossroads. There is too much political rhetoric, but too little visionary leadership. The best seem to be losing conviction, even as the worst become emboldened with misguided passionate intensity.
The language of petulant threats is returning to our political lexicon, and is even now extending to international personalities and institutions.
There are people who believe they can actually torpedo or at least delay the reform vessel, and they will do all it takes to achieve their objective. And there are those convinced that they can actually scare away justice by merely barking at the ICC or hurling wild epithets at Ocampo.
But ICC is not some marionette Kenyan court in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu or Nyeri, neither is Ocampo your average puppet court jester. This guy cut his teeth prosecuting his own motherland, Argentina, in The Hague!
Amidst this cantankerous cacophony, Kenya is crying out for her best women and men to step forward and offer firm, objective and visionary leadership.
As Martin Luther King Junior would put it, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Tomorrow, members of parliament converge at KIA, Kabete, to find a way out of the boundaries conundrum and return the Constitution implementation process back on track.
May leadership become manifest in Kabete, guided by this other gem from Luther: The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. Every cause needs champions. Every war has its distinguished warriors. Stand up, yee bravehearts of the Second Republic!
Mr Namwamba chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. [email protected]