The “original” political party in this country began off our journey towards nationhood and formed the notion in our minds that we shall be a united Kenya.
When I was a young fellow going through A-levels at a school in Gem – Nyanza – I believed in that unity and to a large extent that is still true in my mind.
The problem in my thinking is our politicians. While it is about them, the rest of us Kenyans have allowed them to take themselves as the owners of this nation.
The truth is that all the stories we hear about corrupt deals are about that equation.
In that equation is the reason county governments cannot do as they should for the larger good of the ordinary Kenyan but instead each person thinks only about themselves.
There has to be a way ordinary Kenyans in Nyanza, in Central Province, in the Rift Valley, in the North Eastern Province, in the Coast and everywhere else in this country become the centre of things.
The problem we have had in this country is that our politicians do not want ordinary people from wherever to “know” each other. Politicians – from whichever region – believe they must be the gate keepers.
That is where our hope of a “united” Kenya has failed.
When people talk about how national unity can be achieved, my humble submission is that political leaders and other elite groups meeting and shaking hands in Nairobi cannot be the ultimate solution.
For planning and role modelling purposes, that may be good, but it is not enough.
Those who talk about building national unity must organise activities throughout the country aimed at making sure ordinary Kenyans everywhere “experience” each other.
Let us not forget that for as long as we have been as a nation, our relationships have, among other things, been shaped by stereotypes we inherited about each other – created by colonialists – and the narratives that our politicians have chosen to construct along the way.
The effort of uniting Kenya must include a strategy that makes sure that ordinary Kenyans from whichever community “experience” each other.
Let there be a way for farmers from Nyanza to go to the Rift Valley for a week and “experience” the way real farmers and ordinary people – not the politicians – from that area do things.
Then some others from Eastern Province could go to Western Province and the next time the reverse is done. The same must happen to all other ordinary Kenyans in all our provinces and we can then talk about the walk towards national unity.
I am of the conviction that if the real people are introduced to each other, we shall then be able to talk about our unity and it would make real serious sense.
The writer is dean of students and sociology lecturer at the University of Nairobi; [email protected]