On this 9th day of April 2013, half a century after a former colony earned the right to self-determination, we witness the 3rd peaceful transfer of power from one president to another. And to all the doomsayers and pessimists who predicted that our elections would cause blood to drench our fields and gush down our streets, shame on you!
By publicly swearing in the fourth president today, we remind ourselves that while the road has been tortuous, while the journey has been hard and long, we have redeemed ourselves. But the unsung heroes of this day are the millions Kenyans, young and old, rich and poor,who waited patiently for long hours to make their voices heard.
Today as Mr. Kenyatta takes the oath prescribed by ourconstitution before he embarks on the execution of his office, there is nothing at present about the presidency for which there is reason for special elation. As the first president under the new constitution, Mr. Kenyatta assumes the leadership of a country beset with greatstructural flaws, many of which enabled his emergence and aided his victory.
Half a century after a former colony earned the right toself-determination, nationhood remains a mirage and our sense of common purpose splintered in more than 40fragments. We demonstrated once again that different ethnic groups can only come together if they rationalize a negative stereotype or straw man or propagate a compelling and circumstantial narrative of facile anti-imperialism or victimology that casts one or more ethnic groups as the villain.
We are a polarized country, embroiled in a mindlessethnic zero sum game that has poisoned our politics for half a century. Our politics dwell in the precincts ofsmallness and silliness, pettiness and immaturity. Our politics supply inflammable fuel for cynics who remind us that our politics is not about competing ideologies of development. Politicians harness ethnicity to underwrite special interests. Our politics divides us and inflames primordial, unhelpful ethnic passions. Our politics is nothing but an ethnic blood sport.
How can we bring civility and reason to our politics? I do not have the answer. But I want to propose a newconversation; a conversation of Kenyans, by Kenyans and for Kenyans. The premise of this proposition is essentially a singular and collective narrative of who we are, our fears, our aspirations and our dreams as a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a brother or a sister; a citizen.
I am optimistic that the ordinariness of our personal yet deeply shared stories can provide the basis for re-framing our national conscience on shared fears, struggles, triumphs, aspirations and values. Our everyday stories can breach the mountain of ignorance that divides our communities. I believe we can hew out of this mountain a stone of hope, upon which we can inscribe our collective and indomitable yearnings for life, liberty, and the opportunity to pursue our dreams.
I am optimistic that out of this stone of hope we can carve the promise of nationhood; a promise that we are all equal; a promise that we all can have a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity will be open to allcitizens; a promise that your children will not be judged by the sound of their name; a promise that you can start a business without paying a bribe. I am optimistic because I believe that at this moment of great challenge we have the capacity to transform the jangling discord of ethnic division into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
I am optimistic because in the enduring spirit ofAbraham Lincoln's first inauguration speech in March 4, 1861, we are not foes, but brothers and sisters… thoughethnic passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. I also know somehow that only when it is dark enough can we see the stars. I see the stars of this nation piercing through the midnight of our ethnic dis-ease.
I am optimistic that we are the generation about whommusicians, storytellers and poets will celebrate and say,"they found it in themselves to sanitize our politics and laid the foundation for nationhood, with unity, peace and liberty".
To Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, congratulations Mr. President! This day affirms that you are president of all Kenyans. I am optimistic that the supreme burden of the presidency, not the succulence of victory, will temper your judgment and bridle your power.