By Joshua Odongo Onono
â€œNational dialogueâ€ is a famous phrase in the mind of Kenyans currently. Letâ€™s understand the term â€œDialogueâ€. Dialogue is a delicate process. Many obstacles inhibit dialogue and favor more confrontational communication forms such as discussion and debate.
Common obstacles including fear, the display or exercise of power, mistrust, external influences, distractions, and poor communication conditions can all prevent dialogue from emerging.
It was once said that if you want to hide the truth from Africans then do it in books and this is what has driven me into digging much about â€œNational Dialogueâ€ for Kenyans to understand it better and to drag the ones in darkness into the light of understanding how â€œDialogueâ€ is a process that will move this country forward by publicly addressing our failures, accepting them and using them as stepping stones to realizing our potential as a people and Nation in totality.
Dictionary reference defines ‘Dialogue’ as an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, especially a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.
Oxford dictionary defines ‘Dialogue’ as a Â discussion between two or more people or groups, especially one directed towards exploration of a particular subject or resolution of a problem
Merriam-webster dictionary defines Dialogue as an exchange of ideas and opinions.
The free dictionary defines Dialogue as a way to engage in an informal exchange of views.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia describes dialogue as a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people.
Origin of Dialogue
Dialogue is formed by the two words ‘dia’ and ‘logos’, which can be literally interpreted as ‘to speak across’, ‘to converse’, or more appropriately the ‘two way flow/exchange’ of meaning, which is the tone suggested by Bohm, and many modern philosophical (and management) writers.
Its chief historical origins as narrative, philosophical or didactic device are to be found in classical Greek and Indian literature, in particular in the ancient art of rhetoric. The British author W.H. Mallock employed it successfully in his work “The New Republic,” which was explicitly based on Plato’s “Republic” and on the writings of Thomas Love Peacock.
But the notion of dialogue reemerged in the cultural mainstream in the work of cultural critics such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Paulo Freire, theologians such as Martin Buber, as an existential palliative to counter atomization and social alienation in mass industrial society.
Types of Dialogue
For the purpose of understanding â€œNational Dialogueâ€ I will briefly look at two types of Dialogue.
One, egalitarian dialogue: Is a concept in dialogic learning. It may be defined as a dialogue in which contributions are considered according to the validity of their reasoning, instead of according to the status or position of power of those who make them.
Two, Â structured dialogue: Represents a class of dialogue practices developed as a means of orienting the dialogic discourse toward problem understanding and consensual action.
Whereas most traditional dialogue practices are unstructured or semi-structured, such conversational modes have been observed as insufficient for the coordination of multiple perspectives in a problem area.
A disciplined form of dialogue, where participants agree to follow a framework or facilitation, enables groups to address complex problems shared in common.
The relevance of a national dialogue in Kenya
Is there any Kenyan who should say that he or she is happy about how our country is grossly mismanaged especially given how the country has been constituted so far is inhibiting our journey to greatness? If any Kenyan in his or her right mind believes that so far all is well with Kenya, shouldnâ€™t that person need some help?
For those arguing that the Opposition is not sincere in proposing a national dialogue, are they saying that all is well with Kenya as it is presently constituted or that talking is harmful?
Or how long should we go on with our endless quarrelling, insincerity and gossiping while Kenya is on its way to a state of coma?
Rather than attacking the opposition, shouldnâ€™t they be applauded for their patriotism and boldness to demand that instead of continuing sweeping Kenyaâ€™s problems under the carpet, itâ€™s time for all of us to come together and freely and frankly discuss how to solve these problems?
Or should the proposed national dialogue not be another opportunity for us to say enough is enough with the celebration of ethnicity, religion, mediocrity, corruption, and indiscipline in Kenya?
In other words, shouldn’t it be our unique opportunity to come up with a just and fair Kenya where hard work, excellence, and patriotism are celebrated, where nationalist leaders are the ones charged with running the affairs of the country? Why can we use this unique opportunity to build a Kenya where its minorities and majorities are treated equally and have the same access to job opportunities, wealth and resources?
Kenyans, lets approach this with an open mind and make sure this time around we should get it right; after all, it sometimes takes several talks for a great nation to emerge.
That is why this is a unique opportunity for us to talk about everything that has kept this giant ship called â€œKenyaâ€ submerged so that the dream of our founding fathers could emerge from the politicized â€œNational dialogueâ€. That is why those of us desirous of a just and prosperous Kenya, a Kenya run by its patriots, its optimists, and its brotherâ€™s keepers, should all support this call for a national dialogue. That is why we should agree Samuel Adams, who as one of the founding fathers of the US, said, â€˜â€™It does not take a majority to prevailâ€¦but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush-fire of freedom in the minds of men.â€™â€™
That is equally why those of us believing in this opportunity to look ourselves straight into the eyes should make sure that we cease the opportunity to come up with how best to modernise and industrialise in a way that launches a new Nigerian economy that truly promotes mass prosperity.
Shouldn’t this national dialogue be an opportunity for us to say that National government and County government should be self-sustained through internally generated revenues or to become viable smaller counties should go for merger? The Kenyan government should no longer borrow heavily for servicing expenditure.
Therefore, this national dialogue will give us that unique opportunity to frankly pose these questions and honestly proffer the right answers.
Shouldnâ€™t this be an opportunity for us to voice out our demand for a mandatory assets declaration by all public office holders both before assuming office and while leaving office?
Shouldnâ€™t it be that unique opportunity weâ€™ve been clamoring for to make sure that government at all levels should be banned from awarding foreign companies contracts paid for with taxpayersâ€™ money to promote the development of indigenous sectors by awarding firms owned wholly by Kenyans those contracts?
Let us honestly use this rare chance to institute a National Office on Contract Awards, comprising honest and patriotic Kenyans to be responsible for awarding all public contracts so as to stop our unpatriotic public officeholders continuing to corruptly award contracts to companies they have personal interests in.
Letâ€™s use this opportunity to set the records straight that no longer should families, Loyalists and cartels promote primordial ethnic and religious divisions be allowed to operating freely in a republic like Kenya, because not only are they an aberration in a republic, but also are not worth their names in todayâ€™s modern societies like ours.
So, let one of the national dialogueâ€™s agreements become the need to send them to our national museums. Let it be an opportunity for us to insist on salaries of all public officeholders to be subjected to a national referendum and increased based on referendum that will be moderated by the Salaries and remuneration commission.
The â€œNational dialogueâ€ should be used to agree on downsizing the countryâ€™s elective posts to a sustainable and debated number. Also first ladyâ€™s office should be made unconstitutional.
All public office-holders should as one of the resolutions of this national dialogue fly economy class and sleep hotels with not more than three star status, only with the exception of the Deputy presidents and the president. The National dialogue is an opportunity to begin a culture of discussion among ourselves.
All Kenyans must make input into a search for a process that will engender effective public service delivery for sustainable development. The Conference is for Kenyans, not for politicians.
â€œThe Youth Revolution is our Solutionâ€.
God bless Kenya.
Joshua odongo onono is a the youth who stood on the same ticket Presidential with Mwalimu Mohammed Abduba Dida 2013 Joshuaoonono@yahoo.com Facebook: Joshua odongo onono Twitter: @joshuaoonono