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The Fate Of The Republic: The Role Of Responsible Citizenship In Transforming The State

The preamble of the constitution of Kenya 2010 begins with the phrase ‘we the people’ and recognizes the aspirations of all Kenyans to a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law.

The preamble gives the Kenyan people ownership of the constitution and ownership of the struggle that gave birth to this new constitution. Therefore, we as the Kenyan people have a responsibility to honour the struggle of those who fought for our democracy. We must protect our country from incompetent leadership. Leadership that threatens the rule of law, leadership that puts political expediency before the good of its people, leadership that fans the flames of tribalism and is intent on sowing division. That duty dictates that we must be responsible citizens. We must at all times bring the best interest of the country before those of any political party or perceived tribal allegiances. For any republic to thrive it calls on its citizens to be responsible. In the words of Mark Twain ‘citizenship is what makes a republic. Mornachies can get along without it.’

It is only through responsible citizenship that we will usher in responsible leadership and tackle the menace of corruption. Responsible citizenship therefore requires a mental overhaul as it would be insanity to do the same things we have thus far and expect a different outcome. We need to start voting on the basis of policy and not tribalism. It is often the case in our country that tribal allegiances take centre stage while we ignore the policy of the people we are electing to lead us and then complain when their leadership fails us. Democracy might not be a perfect system of governance but it is one that at least gives us a chance to correct our misdeeds and secure a better future for our country.

Indeed, to correct a mistake we must first acknowledge that we made a mistake. The elections are fifteen months away and again tribal allegiances take centre stage while we disregard policy. Juliani gave the most accurate description of Kenyan politics in his song ‘utawala’. In it he sings ‘kuuza sura hawataki kuuza sera’. This was eight years ago and it still rings true today.

Politicians rely on their popularity to get elected despite their poor track record. They appease the masses by handing out a few hundred shillings despite ignoring their unemployment and poverty for years. They do not bother to propose nor adopt policy that improves the lives of Kenyans for their main aim is to enrich themselves and not to serve. So they put on a show, dance, hurl abuse at each other as we cheer. They will ultimately reconcile and collect their pay cheques while we languish in poverty and watch our systems erode before our very eyes.

It is incumbent upon us to disrupt the status quo. To ensure that those who wish to be elected to office propose policy that is sound and that tackles the problems Kenyans face daily. We must elect leaders on the basis of merit and not popularity. We must hold leaders accountable and deny those who have ignored our plea another opportunity to enrich themselves at our expense. We ought to be responsible citizens and exercise our right to vote responsibly at all levels of government. Only then can we start to overcome the problems that have bedeviled this country for decades. Problems such as corruption, tribalism and unemployment.

The fate of the republic is in our hands. To make or break the choice lies with us.




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