Land of Splendor and Many Opportunities
If there is any scorecard for the government of Kenya, then I would testify that its foreign policy has worked so well as compared to other African nations in the last decade. In a very short period of time the government of Kenya, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the leadership of its Cabinet Secretary Hon. Amina Mohamed, has proved that Kenya can be great again. Kenya has become a preferred destination for international venues. This blog is actually interested in discussing some of the reasons why Kenya is still ahead of its counterparts including Republic of South Africa.
South Africa’s economy has been far better than that of Kenya by a wide margin. Being a rainbow nation, built on almost all world races, has made her culturally stronger and economically vibrant as compared to her counterparts of almost the same stature. The country was even doing much better during the leadership of the world icon Nelson Mandela who convinced the world that forgiveness, national reconciliation, Justice, truth and co-existence are possible values in a land of opportunities. He taught South Africans how to make the nation great again after pitfalls marred with apartheid and racism. Mandela left office honorably after his first term in power to other leaders. Contrary to many African leaders, Mandela proved that the nation is greater than an individual.
Some of his peers hated him for his forgiving approach. Mugabe of Zimbabwe who expected Mandela to die in power even went personal and called him names. However Mandela defied his colleagues and went ahead to proclaim South Africa a rainbow state just like the United States of America. This is where all cultures blend each other and support a vibrant economy.
Ten sins some African leaders do commit: many believe in themselves and nobody else. This is the mistake number one. The mistake number two is to believe that only you and your family members can lead or can form a dynasty. Mistake number three is lack of focus on nation building thinking that a stranger might take over. Mistake number four is to be evil and switch to killing rivals. Mistake number five is the greed and selfishness. Mistake number six is failure to live and let live. Mistake number seven is presumption that a leader is immortal. Mistake number eight is to surround yourself with mafia. Mistake number nine is to assume that l’E’ta’ c’est Moi (I am the state). Mistake number ten, is to be tribal and partisan thinking that your nation is your tribe.
The dream of Nelson Mandela went to the grave with him as his successors miss out in the national focus and suddenly switched to corruption. Some rulers such as Mugabe, Paul Biye, Kabila, Ngouesso, Gbabgbo, Campaore, Wade, the Bongos, Kagame, Museveni, Mobutu, Amin, Bokassa, Neto, Nkurunziza, Kiir, and many others have deviated from Mandela’s path of wisdom by clinging on to power at whatever cost. Some have been pushed out by force while others had to quit despite their appetite for power and to create dynasty by preparing their siblings to take over power. Before his death, Gnassingbe’ Eyadema of Togo had made an attempt to transfer his power to his heir, the son, Faure Eyadema in 2005, but this ill motive was defied by a nation that believed strongly in constitutionalism, human rights and the rule of law.
Besides African political pitfalls, Kenya is still a far better place to be for many foreigners. Kenyan people do not interfere with foreigners and this has gone down very well with its open-door foreign policies. When Al Shabaab attempted to interfere with the integrity of its tourism industry, the government reacted so fast and did not spare time and went straight into Somalia to uproot the notorious terrorist groups from their hide-outs, a thing that nobody could imagine Kenya would do. Besides defending the integrity of its territory Kenya is a pluralist society. Its population has learned with time how to co-exist. The acceptance of diversity and pluralism has made Kenya a great nation in Africa.
One of the prominent reasons for Kenyan success story is that it has relaxed its regulations and policies on foreigners. Foreigners can get their visa and work permit at the Port rather than wasting time at the diplomatic offices. It is also great that Kenya has indeed, ensured that a foreigner is treated even better than a national. When I was young, seeing a white person was like seeing someone very superior and of high level (mzungu). The word is from Kiswahili meaning someone superior to you. The genesis of this attitude is attached to colonial time and how the government handled foreigners after the independence. Kenya generally is a home for so many races, ethnic groups and people of different cultures. It is a home for all kinds of religions and beliefs.
The open door policy Kenya has adopted and embraced can only be explained in the word – Karibu, another popular Kiswahili word meaning, welcome. Kenya Hakuna Matata, meaning, there is no problem in Kenya. Many tourists go back home singing – Hakuna Matata for this is what they saw in Kenyans. It is rooted in the Kenyan traditional cultures crafted in the word safari meaning voyage or excursion to see the wildlife and the splendour of Kenya flora and fauna such as the Savannah- Mountains, Rift-Valley, Lakes, the Ocean, and other types of rare ecosystems.
Besides the welcoming anecdote that Kenya has perfected for some time, the government has also cared about its image abroad. It has settled on effective civil servants with skills to have the work done. It has promoted the Diaspora and investors to put their wealth into the Kenyan economy, a thing that is backed by peace, stability, and strategy. Education sector has been the real invisible hand in the Kenyan success story since the time of missionaries.
Kenyan people are known to be very industrious and proud as compared to some of her neighbours. Services such as hotels are far advanced and innovative. Hotel industry in Kenya has done commendable job, making Kenya a destination of choice. This is a big challenge for so many countries whose foreign policy is hostile to foreigners and hospitality sector is for elite.
Kenya was at the brink of collapse after the violence of 2007/8. This can tell you how “peace” is a force behind every endeavour. When Kenyans fought many friends of Kenya could not believe it. It was like a Hollywood film or something orchestrated. It could not reflect the true picture of a country where the famous film – “Out of Africa” was registered. Such nice taste of being in Africa that attracted many foreigners after the independence in Kenya showed a real picture of a welcoming nation. The settlers that decided to remain in Kenya after the independence were received very well and credit goes to the founding fathers – Jomo Kenyatta and his counterparts. The founder of the nation proclaimed free education for all races. Africans, Europeans and Asiatics would go to same schools. He dismissed any apartheid system in Kenya.
Kenyan development has been steady due to its education policy. Most Kenyans that have had chance to study are the best performers. There are so many Kenyans serving in foreign countries at managerial positions. They demonstrate professionalism and capacity to get job done wherever they are. This includes also the United States of America where Obama senior went for his further studies. It is also a country where the Nobel Laureate the late Prof. Wangari Maathai hailed from. Prof. Ali Mazrui and many other re-known Kenyan intellectuals have left a blue print for a developing culture.
Kenya has embraced its diversities and heritages. This is a nation known as multi-lingual. As many Kenyans have their own ethnic languages, they use English or Kiswahili whenever they intermingle with none locals. They crack jokes and friendships easily. The young generation in Kenya today is coming up with a new free style culture (digital culture) that would still make Kenya a land of splendour and many opportunities…
The only pending job is how to merge such pluralism into the public administration with less interference from politics. Unfortunately, the system is still too politicized. There is discrimination economy that leaves some people out due to their affiliations even if they qualify. The political economy in Kenya is not doing so well and this is something to regret. The only hope is on devolution and the brain behind it has been a well known Kenyan veteran politician, former Prime Minister Rt Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga. An enigma in the Kenyan politics. Those who like him tend to do so up to death and those who hate him also tend to do so up to death. He spearheaded the new constitution in what is called second liberation. He did not stop even if it meant so much for him and his career in politics. As a statesman he speaks on behalf of nation and into the hearts of many poor Kenyans. His attempt to make a rainbow government has always pitched so high making those who love him see him as a hero and those who hate him as a villain.
Read us, like us, follow us…