Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Four years on: The Launch

Four years ago, I begun to question on issues of tribalism and negative ethnicity. I did not know much then but I felt compelled to write about it. Writing was my voice. I penned down a note on Thursday 23rd April 2008. This unknown to me would be the beginning of I AM NOT MY TRIBE INITIATIVE :

Oh,so you are Kilonzo...Mkamba...?an innocent question right?WRONG.
What does my tribe have to do with my potentials?Failures?These stereotypes grate me to the marrow...unaskia there has been a heist and the immediate question is..hao kama si wakikuyu...ama a bar brawl,watu wamepigana unaconclude hawa wajaluo wanapenda vita...piracy-wasomali...frausters-wahindi n all other tribal comparisons...many at times its an individual who has messed bt th whole clan is smerged with the iniquity.
I dont knw abt u bt ths has got to STOP.
How?let us th youths create awareness to our peers,parents n community that no tribe is superior or inferior to th other.
We are Kenyans and ths is what is very important...intermarry btwn tribes,make friends with other clans..our diversity is supposed 2 unite us..We are ONE out of MANY.
Unless we put aside our tribal differences,we will always experience the hate speeches lined with sarcasm,suspicion and disunity which I for sure knw is a timebomb we are sitting on...infact a field of land mines..a step is as risky as th next...Reflect on Rwandas genocide.
TUACHE UKABILA.
In anycase wen it rains..does it recognize anyone by its tribe or affiliation?it drenches all equally.

Question : Wewe ni mkabila gani??

Answer : Mimi ni MKENYA


Today, 22nd of January 2013, I am glad to say that I have found ten other like minded students from the University of Nairobi who have dedicated their time, their energies and resources to address this issue of tribalism which sadly is thriving in this campaign period. This calls for concerted efforts and new strategies in addressing this concern. This is our first step, to the transformation of Kenya. Ambitious? Not quite. We are bringing change to our communities, one person at a time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Can Kenya learn from Park Geun-hye presidency?

South Korea's elected her first woman president, Park Geun-hye on December 19th 2012. Ms Park is the daughter of former military strongman Park Chung-hee who ruled South Korea with an iron fist for 18 years. Her campaign was both bolstered and dogged by the legacy of her father, who built South Korea's economy while crushing dissent. She defeated the Democratic United Party (DUP) candidate, Moon Jae-in. There are a lot of lessons to learn from her presidency, particularly Kenya at a time that The Economist reported that Kenya is among the worst countries to be born in, in 2013. Well, this is not something I smile about, more so as a young Kenyan woman. However, there may be some truths to it. Now I know I am playing the devil advocate but there are some things that indeed make Kenya a not so ‘cool’ place to be. Right from politics, security as well as available opportunities that young people can tap into.

I will therefore consider the president-elect Park Geun-hye as a case study on what I as a young Kenyan woman leader can learn; more so from her race for presidency.  Park, who said she had never married or had children has devoted her life to public service, will inherit a formidable array of economic problems such as youth unemployment, inequality and the challenge from a hostile North Korea when she takes office. This I consider vital particularly as Kenya is bracing for its next general election elections in March 4th 2013. Hopefully, leaders from Kenya and Africa can draw lessons from Parks stratagem. I acknowledge that it is not prudent to “copy-paste” her formula therefore, I will modify and even try to make better few of her ideas to be in tandem with my Kenyan context. Furthermore, I know that some would sneer at my thought of getting lessons from a “dictator’s daughter” but I know for a fact anyone can learn from everyone, what you decide to use is upon you.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0TxrEhB1yGU/UO6BPUSpY1I/AAAAAAAABYs/rT1aoHliQ4s/s1600/Park-Geun-hye..jpg
Park Geun-hye
The first strategy Park is using is to have a working group/team also her transition team. President-elect Park Geun-hye has a team that was and is charged with hammering out key policies on her behalf and ensuring that her ascent to the top office runs smoothly. Her appointments show her to be a traditionalist who relies on trusted aides and familiar faces. On this note, Kenya needs to clearly distinguish this from the hurriedly made political marriages a.k.a coalitions. These ‘marriages’ are merely vehicles that will drive most leaders into positions of power and once there file a divorce thus render these unions obsolete. Having a team instead of being part of a ‘forced’ conglomerate is probably the manoeuvre Martha Karua is using; in that instead of getting into a coalition with another leader, she like Park has surrounded herself with a team of volunteers who believe in her aspirations and objectives and they selflessly work toward achieving them. This however is not to say that all coalitions are useless, emphasis should be on which coalitions are issue based and not working on personal attacks of the other camp. At this point sadly, most of the coalitions are ridden with internal disgruntles, uncertain strategies and one gets the feeling that some are in this election race merely to loose and be remember in history as having run for political office.

Second strategy, closely linked to the first is trustThis strategy I believe is the corner stone to any endeavour one undertakes. In fact Park Geun-hye is famous for the style in which she will run her government. It is dubbed ‘trustpolitik’. This came at a time that Koreans consider themselves “shrimps among whales” in relation to China, Japan and Russia. However, Park who others call ‘ice-queen’ taking the ‘trustpolitik’ path despite the “shrimp tag” seeks to improve bilateral relations and to persuade N.Korea to curtail its nuclear program and reunification in the end. Ms Park has based her approach on reciprocity where she says she will start with small economic projects and humanitarian aid, and engage further with the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un. This contrasts with the leadership style of her predecessor, Lee Myung-back whose policies severed any links with N.Korea. This method reminds me of the current call for succession by the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) in Mombasa who want to annex Mombasa (Kenya’s port city) due to concerns of marginalization and unfair development. I think whoever will become the 4th president of Kenya can use this idea. In that it provides room for dialogue and trust in addressing the pertinent issues underneath the call for secession. Issues raised by MRC are indeed valid and have not been addressed fully but merely wished away by use of force to nip them from growing. In this case, MRC like a season river may not be seen flowing on the surface but it is certainly underneath and if not checked will rise and burst its banks over time. With this strategy, Ms Park seeks to bridge the political divide among the South Koreans and hopefully unite the two Koreas. Concerns of MRC need to be looked at objectively and where possible address them conclusively.Some may term this as idealist thinking but realists emphasize that the end justifies the means therefore; I think it is worth trying with Kenya.

A third strategy would be regional inclusion in all policy formulation and implementation. Ms Park has for instance taken care to give prominent roles to natives of Jeolla province, such as Han Kwang-ok, head of the subcommittee on national unity. Jeolla suffered under successive military regimes in the past, and always votes for the DUP rather than Ms Park’s Saenuri Party. Kenya on the other hand has a major issue of regional cronyism manifested as tribalism and unequal development. This is now worsened by the fact that particular regions represent particular tribes and their development or lack of it, hints on the previous leadership at the national and local level. With the political coalitions whose common thread is the mantra of “uniting all Kenyans in one” is merely a fa├žade and not issue based manifestos. Park has been careful to avoid showing regional cronyism that tripped her predecessor President Lee Myung-bak. Regional cronyisms energize and sustain ineffective leaders who have the support from their regional base. Therefore, as dynamic as it is a leader would time after time redefine their regional identities to align with perceived personal or group imperatives at the expense of the larger community.
Kenya is 50 in 2013, and these three strategies out of the many that Ms Park employs would be instrumental in addressing our persistent and emerging problems of development and security. It will be remembered that Korea then a poor state from Asia approached Kenya for its Development Blue-print. This blue-print was the Kenya Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965 drafted by Tom Mboya and Mwai Kibaki that would ensure rapid economic development and social progress for its citizens. Robert Greene’s First Law in his book 48 Laws of Power says: Never outshine the master. Well, Korea has proven that indeed this law can be broken because at 2012 Korea has outshined Kenya in all aspects. Korea is the eleventh biggest economy, sixth biggest exporter and hopefully soon become the eighth biggest trading nation while Kenya is still a developing state. Maybe it is about time for Kenya to learn from Park Geun-hye. Change is good, right?