Photo: Kenya’s popular politicians Kenneth Matiba and Raila Odinga who led from the front in the struggle for political change
By Patrick Gathara via Gathara’s World
The Change Merry-Go-Round
Similarly, changing constitutional arrangements without changing the nature of these understandings between citizens and those who exercise the authority of the state, and between the citizens themselves, is thus futile. As was the case 50 years ago, a new constitution will not automatically erase either the century-old practices and attitudes in institutions like the police, or the ingrained habits of those who consider themselves our lords and masters.
A new constitution is therefore insufficient to wring the change we desire. We now need to do the work that the independence generation failed to do. We need to engineer a rebirth of the nation. In a sense the real problem with Kenya was always that it’s full of Kenyans and to change that means refashioning the very idea of what it means to be Kenyan.
During the struggle for the second liberation, there was much talk of “the Kenya we want”. Not much was said about the the Kenyans we want. We must begin there. We could choose to inscribe the constitution on our hearts, to affirm the value of universal values of life, dignity, and liberty; to begin to measure our progress by the quality of life and opportunities enjoyed by our poorest citizens as opposed to that of our richest.
We cannot change the past but we can make our peace with it, and decide not to let it define us. And that’s why I think the TJRC report is so important. It is about releasing Kenyans from the shackles of the past and so freeing them to choose their future.Â It can be the start of a real national self-examination. If we have the courage to do this, then we can finally begin to learn from the mistakes of the past instead of being condemned to repeat them.