Ochieng M. Khairalla: Seize this moment to refine the draft

The Harmonised Draft Constitution is a historical leap of no mean feat in so far as the search for a new constitution is concerned.

It heralds a new phase in the quest for a new constitutional dispensation responsive to the needs of Kenyans.

Suffice it to say the road to a new constitution has been long, winding and painful and has been strewn with obstacles and challenges of debilitating dimensions.

As a result there have been injuries, loss of limps, loss of careers and loss of lives.

Indeed, a careful appraisal of the struggle for constitutional reforms confirms that there are more dead heroes than are alive today in as much as there are opportunists and vestiges of modern-day colonialists.

The launching of the Harmonised Draft Constitution marked the commencement of 30 days of public engagement.

During this period, Kenyans are impressed upon to analyse, debate as well as generate substantive dialogue around the draft constitution ostensibly to consensus and harmony around issues.

The period therefore provides a special opportunity for us to refine the draft constitution by making proposals on possible amendments especially on sticky issues.

It is therefore a special period for national reflection on how to make the best constitution out of the draft constitution.

Allow me to observe in the very words of Martin Luther King Jr; "History has thrust upon our generation an indescribably important destiny — to complete a process of democratisation which our nation has too long developed too slowly, but which is our most powerful weapon for world respect and emulation.

"How we deal with this crucial situation will determine our moral health as individuals, our cultural health as a region, our political health as a nation, and our prestige as a leader of the free-world".

I am increasingly convinced that the harmonised draft constitution is a bold step towards the completion of this sacred assignment and how we deal with it will fundamentally determine the shape and content of our collective future as a nation.

There is every need therefore to internalise its content with honesty and utmost sense of sincerity and strict fidelity to the common good of the people of Kenya.

Indeed hindsight will reveal the critical value of the emerging spirit especially in so far as the concept of power and the need to de-mystify it so as to anchor and underscore the inherent value of service and advancement of the public good.

Constitution making is about building a united nation and a common identity hence the need to step forward together as one people and one Kenya by clasping our hands together in all the things that are essential for our mutual progress.

Re-discovering our identity constitutes an inescapable imperative in constitution making and lies at the very roots of a new dispensation.

We are where we are as a result of reckless denigration of our national identity through systematic erosion of shared values and principles. This has led to the sacrifice of Kenyanness at the altar of parochial considerations and related prejudices.

It is increasingly annoying to hear people and even leaders' comment on the harmonised draft constitution on ethnic, class or sectional platforms.

Nothing can be more redemptive than the discovery of Ukenya or simply our Kenyanness during this period of substantive dialogue and debate on the harmonised draft constitution.

Again, paraphrasing Martin Luther Jr, we are in an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society.

We are still called upon to give aid to a beggar in miserly and agony on life's highway just as we are disturbed by the deteriorating conditions of life as well as loss of value for human life.

Is it not high time we asked ourselves whether an edifice which produces beggars and dehumanises people must not be reconstructed and refurbished so as to afford value and develop the potential of every citizen? In my view that is where we are now.

The reason we must collectively rise from the quicksand of prejudices, biases and stereotypes to the very higher levels of reason, sincerity and objectivity.

Indeed we can make the best constitution out of the Harmonised Draft Constitution. God bless Kenya.

Ochieng M. Khairalla comments on topical issues.

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