If Kenya Burns We All Stand To Lose
A thought crossed my mind: If Kenya burns, which neighboring country is stable enough to support the displaced people? If Kenya burns, what measures do we have in place to restore order? The current political climate means a lot for Kenya’s national fabric of peace, cohesion and national unity. It is a trying moment for Kenya. Millions of Kenyans are currently wallowing in uncertainty as a result of political wrangles. All Kenyans have equal rights to either choose to participate in the polls or boycott it all together.
What we lack as a country is political tolerance. We always see ethnicity in political differences and affiliations. Political tolerance is the only way we can objectively listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions and political differences.
But what has really broken my heart and put me in a state of fear is the level of ethnic hatred and venom spitting going on across the country. It is just shocking to know how low our nation has reached, we are at a point of make or break.
Kenya, my beloved country, I cry for you…
Let’s all not forget what we went through in December 2007 to January 2008 when more than 1000 innocent Kenyans lost their lives as a result of similar political wrangles that had divided the country deep down the middle along ethnic and coalition lines. The scars of the 2007/2008 bloodsheds are still part and parcel of our daily Kenyan story. A visit to any IDP camp in Rift Valley will teach you why peace is an asset in any nation.
Let’s not forget that where we are today is a consequence of our politics. We shouldn’t base it on ethnic hatred and ethnic competition. The level where we are today is what has led to civil wars and ethnic cleansing that was witnessed in Somalia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. Rwanda too had its share of ethnic hatred in the early 90’s that led to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which 1 million lives were lost in just a period of 4 months (April 1994 to July 1994).
Aren’t lessons from Rwanda, Somalia, and South Sudan enough?
I don’t expect Kenya to head that way of civil wars and genocides but the recent happenings have all indications of peace taking a back seat as ethnic hatreds and tensions continue to soar at greater pace every day. The lessons from neighboring Somalia and South Sudan are enough for all my fellow Kenyans who have seen the bad experiences of refugees who ran away from their country to seek safety in another country just because something beyond their control forced them into the refugee situation.
Remember, Kenya has millions of poor citizens and less than a thousand millionaires. If the worst happens the poor of our nation shall continue wallowing in poverty coupled with insecurity and massive displacements from their homes. There is no neighboring nation in Eastern Africa region that can come to the rescue of millions of Kenyans in case massive displacements and refugee situations do happen.
I was born in Kenya as a third generation Kenyan of Somali descent. I have studied and lived in Kenya all my life. This country is my homeland and pride. Both my dad and my grandfather were born and brought up in Kenya. They have always lived in Kenya and my family has sacrificed for this country. My dad’s brother was killed in an Improvised explosive device attack by terrorists. He was traveling in a public van somewhere between Mandera town and Lafey town. This happened in June 2017 while he was serving the nation for 20 years as the senior chief of Capacity location in Mandera South constituency.
Will the jungle law which used to exist in parts of Northern Kenya before the official governance in 1963, again officially take over from the constitutional law? I don’t want to imagine myself in that kind of situation. I really would want to continue living in a peaceful Kenya. That is why Kenya’s peace means a lot to me more than anything else.
Thinking beyond ‘Kenya Burns’ during elections
The thought that Kenya Burns during every election should not be taken lightly. Over the last four elections in Kenya, we have had fire, violence, and bloodshed. It is in the best interests for us to contribute towards building peace and cohesion. Violence and bloodshed isn’t a monopoly for any group. It is a consequence everyone can suffer when retaliation starts taking over common sense. No one should lose their life because of supporting National Super Alliance (NASA) or Jubilee Party.
Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are national leaders who all have massive followings. They should be respected because of the people they were elected to represent. The future and prosperity of this great nation is far much greater than the political interests of any of our national leaders of today. Remember how the beauty of our Kenyan democracy gave this great nation the wonderful blessing of the revolutionary National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government in 2002 which introduced free primary education that has so far benefited millions of young Kenyans.
Let’s hope and pray that our economy shall recover and grow better than it is now. Thousands of jobs have already been lost and billions of economic revenue lost over the past two years that Kenya has been going through endless politicking. This has to come to an end and we all move forward with our lives. We can’t continue being a nation in a perpetual political quagmire.
Our ethnic, religious and racial diversity is a blessing which we should appreciate. We must realize the huge potentials of this great nation. Kenya should have economically been competing in the class of G20 and G8.
Let’s focus on building this great nation for our next generations. None of us has a guaranteed permit to exist in this world forever. We all have a chance to live once. We should be striving to contribute towards our nation for the overall betterment of all of us.
Beware that, if Kenya burns, we all stand to lose. Let’s learn to defend our neighbors and protect their businesses from any risk.
I also expect the police and the security agencies to do their work. It will be prudent for the security agencies to work without hurting innocent Kenyan. The security officers of the nation have a responsibility to protect the lives and properties of all Kenyans. Because If Kenya Burns, We All Stand To Lose!
What am I doing about peace in Kenya?
I have always focused on standing for the best interests of this nation. Peace and cohesion is a major part of Kenya’s journey to progress and prosperity. I’m making efforts to contribute towards peace-building. My hope is to integrate communities in my home county, Mandera.
Abdulaziz Haji is a Kenyan peace activist and Executive Director of the Eastern Africa Development Agency. Find him on Facebook: Abdulaziz Haji (Abdulaziz Mzalendo) and on Twitter: @Abdiazizhaji09