By Tito Mwangi
The hashtag “proud to be Kenyan” always pops up every time an ordinary Kenyan conquers an extra ordinary fete or when rallying each other for a helping hand to the needy around us.
Today, many Kenyan Institutions have lost not only the public trust, but also their ethos, sense of purpose and their traditional sustaining culture. Our public service has been riddles by massive corruption allegation all through its rank and file.
Most recently the Ministry of Health which is at the forefront in the fight against COVID 19 was implicated in massive corruption and resultant cover-ups. The same applies to the police and trade unions that have morphed to lobby groups of static self-interest.
Often, we congregate around a television set and cheer for our world record breaking athletes, when we have been shaken to the core as a nation during terror attacks and we are quickly introduced to the heroes of the day who put their lives on the line to save others , and many times we don’t hear of the young men who give of their comfort to man our porous borders far away from their families and friends to ensure as a country we sleep soundly.
Those to me are heroes we easily identify with and celebrate, but wait, what about the old man who holds the hand of a child and helps them cross the road, what of the child who shares their meal with another who had none over lunch hour, the police officer who goes beyond the call of duty for us?
The words of our anthem contain a prayer for blessing and are a call to national unity, justice, liberty, peace, prosperity and national building. The words have transcended time and are a true call to action elicited every time a Kenyan conquers or stands on top of the world regardless of their ethnic background.
I grew up in one of the military establishments in the country as my dad served in the Air force, the words of the national anthem and the loyalty pledge came to life as we watched the men and women in uniform not only salute the flag but also readily offer themselves for this great country.
Over the years however, we seem to have lost all humanity in us as a country and the few outstanding characteristics that describe us begin with either tribe or have versus the have-not.
What has made us become so inhumane that instead of attending to accident victims we first rob from them as we watch them die or all together leave them for dead as we are not from a common tribe? What has made the fathers, brothers turn against their daughters and sisters and sons in rage and sexual pervasions that were unheard of many years ago? Killing of suspects has become the order of the day? How have we lost our pride among our neighbors to be described as corrupt and broken society whenever we cross the boarders?
What happened to the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize us as a nation?
I dare say as a people we have lost who we really are or ought to be and we need to get back on course sooner rather than later.
Maybe we need to define what our Character really is, what are some of the qualities that make us distinct or unique from other people or places. The true character that we carry beyond the national podiums, the true us when no one is really looking.
We have always believed to be a warm, peace loving people who are resilient and hardworking regardless of what they face, we have over the year risen from dark situations to become a shinning symbol for the rest of Africa.
It is time we dig deep and rise to the current clarion call of self internalization to cross over the different huddles we are facing as a nation. We have lost a general and a specific idealism. For how can we know the good if we do not believe in it.
It is said “the pain of discipline is easier than the pain of regret” while as a country we have somewhat expanded our democratic space to express, feel and be Kenyan, we need to go back to basics. The basics that will point us back to a discipline where we later learnt that discipline is not entrapment but freedom.
Our education system from nursery to university needs to teach the children how to serve and take responsibility at an early age, while being cognizant of our diverse backgrounds. There is no point of producing books smart doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and so forth who cannot relate and live peaceably among others.
We need, in resistance to all of the above, to recover and renew habitual practices of virtue that allow us to know and recognize the good.