Kenya is Ours

When I first heard of secession talks, I was, like most Kenyans, I believe, taken aback. “We’ve not gotten to that level!” I said. I was lying to myself.

We are in a country where so many bad things that shouldn’t happen are happening. Elections are meant to be free and fair. Here they are not. And the whole world saw the joke that was the repeat poll of 26th August.

This is a country where the government rules certain parts of the country by iron fist. With police, and rogue militia killing innocent people every day. You would expect the government to say something, condemn the killings, tell police not to use live bullets. But… nothing.

This is a country where corruption thrives. The government of the day has borrowed more than all other previous governments. And then lost most of the money through corrupt officials whom they’ve gone ahead to protect.

This is a country where inequality is the order of the day. Most key positions in the country are not only held by a particular community, but also by men. Ministries, banks, learning institutions, the police, the military, agencies, public companies etc.

This is a country where levels of unemployment keep growing by the day. A country where the healthcare system has collapsed. A country where so many things are impossibly wrong yet that is all this is washed out because some people want to hold on to power.

It is an unfair marriage, and it is obvious that time is ripe for secession talks. When you are being treated unfairly, when nothing seems to be working, the best thing to do is walk out and go your way. But that won’t be the right thing to do. It won’t solve our problems as we might want to imagine. Secession is hard and long and anyway never have the oppressors let those who clamour for self-determination go easily.

I don’t believe secession is our way forward as Kenya because there are a couple of things we miss when we call for secession:

One, the Kenyatta government faces opposition from all parts of the country. Not just Nyanza, Western and Coastal province. The government lacks support from millions and millions of Kenyans in Central, Rift Valley, Eastern and North Eastern provinces. The government however has been on overdrive with their Cambridge Analytica divide-steal-and-rule strategy.

They have constantly worked to make it look like this is a tribal conflict, and most have fallen prey to this fallacy. It isn’t. Those who’ve fallen for this fallacy need to open their eyes. If you truly believe Kenya is inclusive, be part of Kenya, not part of a regime hell bent on staying in power. The election boycott showed us a revolution by people who want better leadership. People who demand credible elections. People who want better.

Second thing: Secession alienates the gains we’ve made as a country over the past several years. Gains that include but aren’t limited to a powerful constitution, devolution, freedom of movement and of speech. Things that have made us as a people free to live anywhere, work anywhere sometimes, almost be whatever we dream. Things that have made us feel Kenyan. Secession calls make us forget that together we are better.

That said, it is also important we remember that the biggest hindrance to development in our country is injustice. It is the continual lack of justice in this country that has brought us to a level where secession kind of feels like an option.

Imagine living in a world where police shoot and kill school kids, and babies and then another part of your country celebrates and says, “The country is ours.” Most of your fellow countrymen, including your president keep quiet and you dare say ‘We are one’? Imagine living in a world where a politician walks with goons as his security and nothing is done. Imagine living in a world where a militia is threatened on you by none other than the minister for internal security. Imagine living in a world where all the wrongs you see being committed are reported differently on mainstream media. Imagine living in a world where something as basic and necessary as the gender rule isn’t respected. A world where governors pay for people to go vote but can’t raise money for the healthcare system. Such isn’t a place to call home. Such isn’t a place to say ‘Najivunia’.

If we really want a Kenya we can be proud of, we need to say no to injustice in all the forms it might be presented to us. Whether flowery or not. Whether it is from our favourite leaders or not. From sham elections, to police brutality, corruption, inequality, tribal hate and divisive propaganda.

We are where we are as Kenya because of injustice. And we won’t get far if we continue on this path. Rise up and resist.

Without justice there will be no peace. And peace, remember, isn’t the absence of war.