In Summary
  • The Building Bridges Initiative has been touted as an attempt to heal and reconcile a nation riven by toxic ethnic politics and endemic inequalities.
  • We should all embrace it as an attempt at healing and uniting a nation that is still struggling to find its soul fifty-six years after emancipation from colonial rule.

Nine years after a new Constitution came into effect, Kenya is once again at a crossroads.

This time, the country is about to launch a quest to redress the myriad challenges bedevilling it since Independence. This is indeed a defining moment in the country’s history, a time to reflect on the original ideals espoused by the country’s founding fathers.  

It is also a time to decisively address the recalcitrant problems of tribalism, corruption, inequality, disenfranchisement, exclusion, division and insecurity, that have burdened the country since 1963. An opportunity to reassert nationhood and surmount barriers that have made unity, prosperity and equity such elusive dreams.


I am talking about the Building Bridges Initiative, which seeks to tackle the fundamental issues the country faces. BBI has been touted as an attempt to heal and reconcile a nation riven by toxic ethnic politics and endemic inequalities. At its unveiling, the architects of BBI, President Kenyatta and Hon. Raila Odinga, identified nine core national challenges requiring urgent attention.

These are ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, insecurity, corruption, human rights and prosperity for all. If not addressed, they said, these problems will continue to fuel a perpetual cycle of mistrust, division, violence, insecurity and social decay.

I will not delve into the nine points of reference considering the BBI task force is about to release its report and Kenyans will have their say on the issues. The point is that this is a conversation that requires honesty and courage given the seriousness of the issues involved.

As the two leaders stated in their communique: “We must courageously face our challenges, and openly and honestly discuss our successes and failures….”

That in my view basically sums up the essence of BBI. This is the time to rally the country into a candid and sober discussion about the past, present and future relative to the challenges facing the country.


This however entails confronting a painfully bitter and divisive past in the hope that this time, Kenyans will seize the moment like they did in 2010, to chart a new path to the future they desire for their country. BBI is also essentially about re-imagining Kenya as a Nation-State and recreating a Republic the present generation can proudly bequeath to posterity.

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