By Pauline Njoroge
One of the notable things about the most developed nations on earth is the premium they place on history. It matters so much to them that every event and occurrence is documented, some dating back to 500 and even 1000 years. In such countries, the role of historians is valued even by the media. Understanding their history helps them define their future and the most inspirational leaders amongst them have a deep understanding of the nation’s history, which they love making reference to it even in their speeches.
Documented history also acts as a deterrence to brutality and dictatorship. In countries like Germany, the documented history of the brutal era of Nazi which has been passed through generations in the last 70 years makes even children detest Nazism.
If Kenya is to move forward, we must start treasuring history and telling our stories of triumphs, and even those of dark past so as to shape a better future.
“A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” -Woodrow Wilson
Yesterday I listened to Hon. Raila Odinga as he articulated his vision for Kenya, drawing lessons from history and global best practices. He highlighted some key historical aspects of our country’s past and connected them to the current happenings, as well as their relevance to our future plans.
He gave the history of China as the world’s factory, and explained how Germany and other developed countries find it economical to manufacture their products (cars, phones etc ) in China rather than home because of the production cost, affordable labor being very key to this. Further, he explained that due to the growth in the manufacturing sector, China’s economy has grown exponentially, leading to the the country’s attainment of middle class status for 50% of its population. This rise of the middle class in China, Raila said is something that is starting to affect the cost of labor. Soon, China might not be providing such affordable production rates, and it is at this point that countries like Kenya will become very critical.
He used this historical perspective and global best practice borrowed from China, to make a case for technical and vocational training, and the need to equip our youth with the necessary skills that will meet the market demands of our time.
This is just one example of how Baba is able to make reference to historical perspectives, connecting it to the current and the future. He uses lessons from history to explain the HOW! Just like academic theories, national development is an ongoing process and we build on already existing knowledge to discover and attain new areas of growth.