I want to wish you guys a reflective Labour Day.
As a third world country with a host of problems, we are not yet at a point where we celebrate. We can only put our hoes aside and raise our hands in surrender and praise to the will of God;
Thanking Him for blessings already received and begging for strength and wisdom as we search for solutions for nagging challenges.
56 years of independence down the line, our lead trade union is yet to learn that it’s job is to fight for the young men and women who walk from Kibra, Mathare, Mukuru,and Kawangware to factories in Industrial Area where they hopelessly wrestle with death in subhuman working conditions that leave most of them dead at a very tender age.
That the union takes hefty bribes to look the other way is an open secret!
57 years after independence we still have to wrestle with the idea of regional balancing in state jobs.
The blackmail that raising such an issue amounts to ethnic profiling is as primitive as the practice itself. When Americans, both black and white rise up and insist on a reasonable quota of black Americans being represented in government, they are trying to make a better union. No one cries “racial profiling.”
The “Black Lives Matter” movement arose from the blatant exclusion of blacks from the Commons and the unnecessary failure of the law enforcement and judicial systems to properly include them in society.
There is so much we can learn from such occurrences all over the globe.
56 years since Independence, corruption is still an issue. Even money that is meant to fight a virus that has ravaged Europe and the US is circumvented, ending up in greedy people’s pockets, who then use extremely shameful expenditure excuses such as “tea and mahamri” taking Kshs. 4 million…and leasing 10 ambulances at Kshs. 40 million when 10 fully equipped ambulances can be BOUGHT at Kshs. 40 Million.
This is why this labour day is and must be a day of reflection.
The promise of Independence is still undelivered!
The toil of our people still largely goes unrewarded!
The enemies of illiteracy, disease, and poverty are still undefeated!
But most importantly, our nation is now producing men and women whose coat is timidity and who have the blood of cowardice and destructive quiescence flowing in their veins…to a point where they cannot speak of wrongs when they see them.
Let the narrow minded not cry of tribal profiling for the shoe surely ends in another foot. We are in this together. Moi oppressed some people during his time, driving public intellectuals such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o into exile. Mzee Moi, the giraffe, may have forgotten that the shoe of state power would swing to a sober economist called Kibaki.
We are one Nation. One people. Bound by blood,common struggles, and believe it or not, a common destiny as a people. There is nothing like your tribe or my tribe. The man or woman or group of people in need should become our identity as we push for fairness and justice.
As Martin Luther King Jr once said, “an injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
There is no Luo problem, Kisii problem, Kamba problem, Kikuyu problem, Masai problem, or Kalenjin problem.
A problem touching on any of our brothers and sisters automatically becomes a Kenyan problem!!!
We must demand better -together!
We must do better-together!
Once again, I wish you a reflective Labour Day, my brothers and sisters.
©️ Onchari Oyieyo
Centre for African Progress (CAP)
1st May 2020.