In Summary
  • The kind of issues identified by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga demanded not band-aid solutions but a revolutionary re-engineering of the entire fabric.
  • That Kenya is a relatively stable, peaceful democracy and regional economic powerhouse should not dull us into false comfort.

Deputy President William Ruto and opposition chief Raila Odinga are already feuding over the interpretation and implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative report.

But they don’t seem to realise that if what is, essentially, a contest for the ownership of Kenya proceeds in familiar fashion they will be fighting over a carcass.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether the report released last week was a defining moment in Kenyan politics or nothing more than just one big damp squib.

We are approaching the season of goodwill, so, perhaps being charitable would be in order. BBI was absolutely underwhelming.

The merry men and women of the BBI task force were appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to design solutions to many of the existential problems of our time.

They had the direct mandate of no less than the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, together with a legend of African reform politics and the President’s erstwhile foe, to offer real and concrete solutions to what ails the country.

LATENT UPHEAVAL

That kind of assignment calls for brave thinking, radical solutions to problems that cannot be addressed with timid steps.

The BBI was itself recognition that, if something was not done, Kenya was headed for an inevitable spiral into doom and destruction.

We are talking here not just of political, economic and social paralysis.

There is always a real threat of ethnic clashes, civil disturbance, class warfare, revolt of the have-nots and other dispossessed groupings that typify urban unemployment, rural helplessness and marginalisation of vast swathes across more than half of the country.

The kind of issues identified by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga demanded not band-aid solutions but a revolutionary re-engineering of the entire fabric.

If we are unable to bring change from above, we must brace for the inevitable revolt from below.

BBI was not supposed to be an academic exercise. It was not supposed to be about long-winded analysis without concrete solutions.

It was not supposed to propose yet more committees and talking shops.

TIME BOMBS

The problems are already well-defined. We face violence with every electoral cycle.

Our ethnic politics breeds ethnic violence. Unemployment and poverty remain ticking time bombs — as the then Vice-President Daniel arap Moi reminded us in the mid 1970s in the run-up to yet another abortive ‘Kenya we Want’ parley.

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