I hope you are doing well in the States, Europe, Australia, India or wherever you are on the face of this planet. Judging by the volume of e-mails I've received from some of you on topical issues in Kenya, it seems like you think Kenya is about to explode in violence, and that our nation is just moments away from going the Somalia way. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Before you adjust your weight in that cozy Minneapolis or Arlington or New York chair, let me tell you why you need to rethink how you view Kenya.
I'll start with the Waki Report. You've seen our politicians debate this matter with incredible intensity. You've heard some call for full implementation, while others plead that it be shredded and fed to the nearest trash can. You've interpreted that lively debate as a sign that Kenyans are about to squeeze their grip around each other's throat. That's not the case. If this kind of debate happened in London or Washington D.C. you'd call it democracy. Now that it's happening in Nairobi you call it...the guilty run when nobody is chasing them. Truth is, what sober Kenyans have been asking for is that there be a local tribunal, and that it be guided by a Kenyan judge of impeccable integrity. And you know what, we seem to have a consensus now. A local tribunal it is. Does that sound to you like a nation in peril?
Let me move on to the state of the roads. To say that the roads in Nairobi and Kisumu and Nakuru and Eldoret and Mombasa and other towns are horrible is an understatement. There are gaping potholes all over the place. In fact, there are roads that have ceased to exist in the way you last saw them. But here is the news you need to hear. Thika Road is about to be made a superhighway with four lanes. And the government is set to give each constituency seventeen million shillings for roads upgrade. Now, should you come home and find the roads in your constituency in a deplorable state, ask your Member of Parliament what he did with the money. Matter of fact, if you wanted a place to channel your energies, let it be in tracking the progress of the roads upgrade all over the country. Can you do that?
Now to rural electrification. Last time I was in shags, I saw with my own eyes the incredible progress the Rural Electrification Board...or whatever it's called...has made. Deep in the valley that I come from, I saw an electric poll. When I asked how soon power will be available for my retired Mama and Papa, who've been using solar panel, the man in charge told me that it would not be another six months before we're good to go. I was assured that this is the case in most of the country. It seems a little slow, but umeme is on the way, folks. Isn't that something to be proud of? Kenya is on the march!
As for the economy, I'm simply astounded. This country has vastly expanded its economy, and you can sense that the expansion will continue. The nation is getting rich. We've become the hub of regional communication, transport, peace initiatives and all kinds of issues that go on around here. So other than our political disagreements, this nation's people are optimistic, and there's a sense in the air that if our politicians and government officials use the public funds they control for the purposes they are intended to be used, sky is the limit for Kenya. The only downside, which I hope our leaders will address, is the sizable number of Kenyans who are being left behind by our march to a developed nation status. The government must ensure that we're all in this together. The first place to start of course is with our brothers and sisters in the IDP camps.
Moving on. Did you know that we now have several TV channels? Ok, I can see you laughing...saying to yourself: How long has this guy been gone from Kenya? Truth be told, it's been a while. When I was last in Kenya, President Moi had us hooked to KBC, where news was all about him. Not anymore. This is one regard in which President Kibaki must be commended. He's truly expanded freedom in Kenya. You can now watch local singers, actors, and even effective talk programmes like that of Julie Gichuru on Citizen, my friend Jeff Koinange on K-24 and that other dude called Loise Otieno...hope I spelled his first name right. The newspapers are not left behind. There are a number, and they are free to write whatever they want...as long as their facts are sound. And by the way, our women anchors are incredible. Not too thin, not too fat. And they dress like tomorrow will never come.
Need I go on? I think I've given you the picture. What I'm trying to tell you is this...be proud of Kenya. The nation appreciates the millions of shillings you remit every year, but what she doesn't appreciate is the constant whining about this or that. How do some of you expect Kenya to be like the States or Europe when we've been around for just forty five years? America has been going for more than two hundred years, most of Europe for longer than that. So cut Kenya some slack, guys. Check us out in fifty years and tell us what you see then.
Look, I just thought I might share with you my impressions of the nation some of you left behind many years ago, just like I did. Things are okay, and once we deal with Waki, it will get even better. The teething problems we have, all nations went through them. The last thing we need is those nations who experienced them earlier telling us how to experience ours now. We are now a sovereign state...and we will defend our right to self-determination from foreigners, be they Americans, Europeans or Kenyans who look down on the motherland.
Street theatre can sell products in East Africa (scroll down to see Churchill live himself)
Brand new DVD releases, Nairobi, Kenya