Kenya: One Year After Promulgation of a New Constitution


August 27th will be one year since Kenya ushered a new order after nearly two decades of failed attempts to give the country a “progressive” Constitution. A new Constitution appeared to finally get Kenya to a new desired level of good governance, accountability and respect for individual rights.

Despite various mishaps, one year later, Kenya can be said to a be a totally different country as the Constitution finally moved to put n check past misdeeds especially in governance. President Kibaki whose signature appears on the promulgation copy of the Constitution was the first casualty of the new law pointing to a new era to those scrambling to succeed him next year.

Kenya needed a new order, one to change the system, which was bringing the country to its knees. The Constitution made it clear by blocking the nomination of key judicial officers made by President Kibaki that the Country is no longer an individual.

Though some powerful cliques in the ruling class and the civil society have tried to then and again hijack the system, the checks and balances resulting from the new Constitution have isolated Kenyans from such moves.

The country still fall behind in the implementation calendar put in place by the Committee of Experts. This is a good and a bad thing at the same time. Good that we are careful enough to put in place the right and deserved mechanism for implementation and bad because some issues are rather urgent.

Having said that, it is important to point out that it will be immoral for Kenyans to blame MPs for failing to pass the necessary legislation and even move to send them home after August 27 if they fail to meet the deadlines. And it is for the reasons argued earlier on this blog that I believe the CoE put in place a provision for a 12 month extension.

My argument has always been that the problem we have in Kenya is the system, which cannot be solved by changing MPs or Presidents. The Constitution gives us a system, which through checks and balances, will ensure that it is the system that dictates what Kenyans will do, and not Kenyans, in their selfishness, dictating to the system what it should do.

Still a lot of work is needed in dealing with some of the other non-legal issues that drag the Kenyan society behind. Kenya is divided in different cultures that must be tackled progressively to enable the country move forward.

There is a culture of the middle class, which remains mostly aloof, is ignorant and does not bother to find out further than what it sees on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Newspapers, Radio and TV. Those of us in this culture are comfortable that we have a salary every end month that will pay our bills, buy us a new shirt, fuel our car and buy us a few beers every evening as we wait for the next payday.

For the middle class Kenya, every rumour especially if it is on Twitter or Facebook is true until proven otherwise. This culture has abandoned the culture of care in society. Meet-ups/parties are organised online, congratulatory, birthday and condolences messages are made on the Internet even when those concerned are on out phonebooks.

The middle-class will run a campaign against MPs on Twitter and Facebook and yet it does not have the necessary simple facts such as Parliament cannot pass bills that it does not have. Some you can be sure do not even know who their MP is and are not even bothered on what motions their representative has introduced in Parliament.

It ain’t such a bad culture but continues to drive this class further from the realities of this world such as inflation, the weakening shilling etc. It has at times moved to unite Kenyans though just amongst itself.

Then there is the sensational media culture, which has yet to learn from its conduct ahead, during and immediately after the 2007 elections. I wonder how many of us journalists have read what the Kriegler and Waki Commissions said about our conduct during the country’s lowest moment.

Today, the media will recklessly report issues – whether a matter national important or not – without thinking of how that impacts society. It will run programmes that while aimed for entertainment just move further to degrade the societal fabric.

Some journalists appear to live in a world of “let’s report first and fast – and also selectively – then seek clarification later”. Even a simple reading of the Constitution or any other law has been misreported more often than not leaving some of us wondering the intentions of the said journalists.

Then there is the “tunaomba serikali” culture. This is the group of Kenyans who believe that it’s always the government’s fault that they are going through whatever they are going through and it is therefore the government’s business to come to their aid.

It is the group of Kenyans who will complain about the lack of water and yet there is a river 200 metres away from them. They will complain about the lack of jobs while behind them are acres of fertile land yet to be tilled and the rainy season is approaching.

Finally we have, the corporate and rich-man culture that is always out to make a kill of every issue affecting Kenyans. This is of businesses raking in billions of shillings in profits in a country that is facing escalating inflation, high fuel prices and a weakening dollar.

A culture of individuals gong to every length including mega corruption to ensure that the next richest does not overtake them. A culture of corporates lining up to take photos of the dummy charity cheques as if they have just learnt that part of the population they rely on to make the profits is suffering.

Kenya is a great country that now has a good governance system thanks to the new Constitution but we will tarmac in this same position if we do not change our altitude and culture.

As Kenya’s second republic celebrates its birthday on August 27, let’s promulgate new attitudes and cultures as Kenyans.

For the middle class Kenya, every rumour especially if it is on Twitter or Facebook is true until proven otherwise.

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4 comments on “Kenya: One Year After Promulgation of a New Constitution

  1. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing….. For any change to take place in any country….the middle-class has to take initiative for that,they have to personalise the problems facing the country….and that’s the system that works in the US….the MPigs there always appeal to the Middle Class…!

    Our greatest problem is ignorance….from top to bottom…..and back again….it’s everyone for themselves and God for us all….we must as a matter of urgency stand for all of us…lest we fall…at the hand of stupid MPigs….

    One thing you take to the bank….. Kenya will never be the same again.

  2. I agree with you. A constitution though a good document isn’t enough without a change of culture. Imagine the culture most Kenyans have of bribing when caught in the wrong side of the law, Impunity, etc. While the constitution addresses these issue we all must change some attitudes.

  3. We have changed the system by way of voting in a new constitution, we are yet to change our perceptions of,and attitudes towards said system(s). My fear is that if we don’t address the real issue,which is like you put it,the various classes we fall under,in a decade or so we’ll be crying out for a new constitution. On to the big question: how do we proceed?

    Insightful post.

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