Kenya has spoken. On August 27, the country celebrates the birth of the Second Republic.
The new Constitution has passed and with it, the old order has come to an end. This represents snapping of the last chains of top-down, discriminatory colonial governance. With this new dawn, Kenyans have overwhelmingly agreed on a new social contract to govern our affairs.
The referendum that paved the way for the new Constitution comes against the backdrop of a long and difficult journey. Kenya has been striving for this moment for more than 20 years, a longer journey than any other country in the world. Whichever way they voted, Kenyans made history.
But what is this Constitution for? Rather than an end in itself, it is an avenue to achieve our collective hopes and dreams. These aspirations are laid out in a joint vision — Vision 2030 — to create “a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030.”
The vision is anchored on three key pillars — economic, social and political. It paints a picture of a prosperous and just country where everyone enjoys individual rights and communal responsibilities and all citizens participate in governing the country well.
To achieve this, we needed a new legal framework to make the political, economic and social reforms sustainable. That’s why the new Constitution was a key goal within the political pillar. Now that we have it, what do we do next? Kenyans must understand their obligations as citizens have increased tremendously; the new order needs new Kenyans.
The rise or fall of the Second Republic depends on each one of us — how we perform our duties in our daily life and conduct ourselves in times of crisis. As former US president Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The average citizen must be good for a republic to succeed.”
And what is a good citizen? For our families, towns and countries to thrive, each Kenyan — whether student, parent, entrepreneur or employee — must work with excellence and integrity. Each one of us must start by educating himself or herself on what the new law says.
There will be many more chances to participate in government. Resources will go in greater amounts to the counties and with them opportunities to invest talent, time and money. Local businesses will benefit and create local jobs. To effectively play your part, you must resist cheap politics.
If you select dishonest leaders, they will squander the funds that have been set aside for development in your own area. So choose leaders carefully based on their ability to govern and the results they deliver. You must also live daily by the values espoused in the new Constitution.
What are Kenyan values? In choosing this Constitution, we have agreed that we are Kenyans first, not tribes. We are an inclusive people who rather than focusing on the differences between us, speak in one voice about development, not division. We also are a forward-looking people who value science over superstition and progress over prejudice.
We are an industrious people who earn their success and honour their commitments. We are a compassionate and just people who provide dignity and social mobility and invest in the potential of all our people. We are an accountable people who believe every right comes with a responsibility and that leaders are servants, not kings.
And most of all, Kenyans, the best long-distance runners in the world, never give up. We flourish under pressure and celebrate those who strive valiantly and dare greatly. We hope and trust, never yielding to cynicism. Roosevelt it was who said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”
Vision 2030 is a long-term plan that needs the abiding commitment of everyone. Nation building takes time and significant resources. Some of the reforms under the new Constitution, and indeed Vision 2030, will take weeks but most will take months, even years. While it is Parliament and the Executive that have the mandate to implement the new Constitution on behalf of the people, ultimately, it is Kenyans that are the stakeholders.
On August 27, 2010, Vision 2030 challenges every Kenyan to wear the armour of the Constitution, and dutifully step forward to own Vision 2030 as individuals, families and communities. As Kenyan citizens in every corner of the world, we hold our heads high and march forward inspired by our joint prayer and vision:
O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty, Plenty be found within our borders.
Mugo Kibati is the director-general of Vision 2030.