Future can only be as good as we want

The gale of ecstasy and relief is still sweeping across the country. The nation’s wings are fluttering in the gentle breeze. All are agreed the swearing-in of the Grand Coalition Cabinet on Thursday is a milestone.

With little dissent, the citizenry, leaders and the international community believe this is the prescription for the malaise brought about by the electoral dispute.

But right at the outset, and in the counsel of the chief mediator and former UN secretary general, Dr Kofi Annan, we must stay the course. The job is only half-done, but as the President said, the coming together by the two dominant parties, was the harder part.

However, as commentators have argued, sticking together could be the hardest but inevitably it is what the nation needs. No matter the disagreements on the way ahead, and the solutions to the afflictions, particularly closing up the ethnic fissures brought about by the electoral dispute, the parties must put the nation first.

The in-tray of the new Cabinet is overflowing. The first agenda is resettling the displaced, rotting away in the squalor of refugee camps. There is also the equally tricky task of giving Kenya a new constitution in a year. Tricky because we will be trying to achieve in a year what we have sought and failed in 15 years.

There are also the complicated tasks of uniting the country, rebuilding the economy and addressing the historical injustices that have scarred the nation right from Independence.

Equally demanding is the delicate task of ensuring justice for the murdered, displaced and dispossessed. There is also the onerous task of restructuring and strengthening our institutions of governance to avert the recurrence of the bloodletting over which the Prime Minister quipped: "We have been to hell and back.’’

But of immediate urgency is the need for the Cabinet to work as one. It is the nation’s mosaic, reflecting its face of diversity and rich heritage. If it fails on this score, the nation will not only be stuck in the mud, but could easily degenerate into the category of Africa’s failed states.

Beyond the good speeches the nation strongly believes, as both the President and Prime Minister said, success or failure depends on the amount of goodwill every leader will invest in this process.

It requires word and deed, goodwill and dedication. The worst that could happen is for our leaders to walk into the Cabinet buoyed by the anger and bitterness that snowballed during the haggling over ministries and ‘portfolio balance’.

It will be tragic if the leaders stir the embers of bitterness, or on the flip side, operate as winners on one side and losers on the other. In this game, there is no winner or loser, just equal partners out to salvage the nation.

The rest of us as individual and corporate citizenry must never blink – we must keep our leaders on the toes. We must remind them where we are coming from and where we are going.

Every Kenyan patriot must always remember Frederick Douglass’ tutelage: "Those who profess to favour freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."

Our job is clearly cut out. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for freedom.

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