Corruption, East Africa, Kenya, Leadership

Kenya can overcome corruption, but only with true leadership

When Pope Francis made his visit to Kenya in November 2015, he spoke like a father to his children regarding many issues. I attended his meeting with the youth at Kasarani and I remember, almost verbatim, how he spoke profoundly about the issue of corruption. He likened corruption to sugar and how if the levels of intake are not controlled one becomes diabetic or a nation becomes diabetic. That message struck a chord on many who were in attendance.

Which brings me to the uncomfortable situation of having to conclude on whether Kenya is a diabetic nation or not. We are constantly bombarded with news of scandals. Before the dust settles on one scandal another one has surfaced to take its place. It’s like the country is in a corruption Olympics. As if the one who steals the most will eventually be crowned champion and his or her name entered into the corruption hall of fame.

Most of the time, in true Kenyan spirit, we joke about it. Even people who did not know the meaning of the word ‘affidavit’ are now using the word with impeccable frequency and impressive fluency. But our jokes can’t hide the sad fact that this cancer cuts across all the three arms of government; The Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature. So a question begs for an answer, “Who will save us from these people?”

Even if we joke about it, we should know at the back of our minds that this wanton looting of public resources has real consequences on real people. Think about the youth who would have started their own businesses and would have thus created employment if the youth fund money was managed properly. Think about all the young people who would have abandoned crime and alcoholism because they were positively engaged in the National Youth Service. Think about… everyone, one by one, whose lot would have been just that much better if the money to make it so hadn’t ended up in the wrong bank account.

The result of these scandals has been a general feeling of despondency. Many people put a lot of faith in this government. They woke up at 4 am a few years ago to line up and vote it in; in the hope that such goodwill would be repaid in kind. Lo and behold! Many promises have gone unfulfilled and everyone feels it, including people from the perceived strongholds. Small wonder there was voter apathy in the just ended voter registration exercise.

Despite this hopelessness with the government of the day I smile at the sporting spirit exuded by many Kenyans. When I see young men pushing handcarts and selling sweets and chewing gum in buses my heart rejoices because there are still many people out there who see the value of hard work despite all odds.

It is quite unfortunate that many people who get into leadership positions do not see the amount of good they can do to the people who elected them into office; how many lives they can change for the better; how many people they can pull from the gutter and usher on a path to becoming responsible citizens. It seems all they ever do is to carry out a mission of replenishing the amount of money they spent during the campaigns as they also prepare to spend millions more in seeking re-election.

A good leader should not be told by citizens what problems are ailing them; what roads have not been built; what hospitals don’t have medicine and what garbage still remains to be collected. It is a pity to have for your golden legacy the planting of grass along a 4 kilometer stretch of road. A good leader should be brimming with ideas of how to improve the lives of his fellow citizens. Citizens should always be left to catch up because they are simply awestruck by the vision of their leader.

But, I believe, not all is lost. I have hope that one of these fine years a selfless leader will rise up and blaze a trail of epic proportions; a leader whose only concern will be the welfare and good governance of the electorate; a leader whose legend every last citizen will be proud to tell to his grandchildren; a leader who will make the current leaders hide their faces in guilt and disgust at the amount of good they would have done but failed to do.

As Sunny Bindra would say, “Leadership is not the event of appointment and grand inauguration; it is the process of inspiring others for collective uplift. Achievement is not the arrival at an arbitrary destination; it is the process of embarking on a difficult journey and staying the course.” May the true leader please rise up!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *