How Kenya can overcome poor governance and attain sustainability

By Elkanah Nyauma


We have always believed that each succeeding generation would find life easier regardless of the responsibility than those who went before. And basically we have. However, there is a price we always have to pay. That is, as we face every new day of “Madaraka” (governing ourselves) as a country, which is unquestionably something we have done since independence, things get more complicated.

In turn, that means experiencing the fruits of our independence takes longer and demands more diligence and self-determination.

Breaking new ground is never a simple assignment. But there comes a time when we should look up to the reality that Kenya has become too unpredictable in numerous ways. It is nowhere more genuinely than in public governance, a field that understands that proper leadership of a country does not come from books and that it is an experiential discipline.

One learns to be transparent, accountable, understanding and forgiving, to communicate effectively and manage conflict, to adhere to the rule of law and even empathize with others, by doing it.

Former President Mwai Kibaki shakes hand with Opposition leader Raila Odinga (L) as former UN Chief late Kofi Annan (R) looks. On this day, 24th January 2008, the two met as part of the former United Nations chief’s mediation efforts. They called for the end of violence which saw weeks of deadly unrest since the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki on December 30. Photo | Boniface Mwangi/IRIN

When Kenya became a self-governing country in 1963, we thought that we were finally free and free indeed. We started thinking of new reforms for a better Kenya, doing things our own way and becoming self-reliant. We began putting frameworks for poverty reduction, supporting the making of decisions and ensuring resources were allocated and used properly.

Some of the steps included Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation and Vision 2030 and Medium Term Plans, drafting the new constitution, introduction of devolved funds for example the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to boost developmental projects like infrastructure, entrepreneurship and education support among other development strategies to ensure reduced poverty, especially at the county levels. But as is the case in other African states, many Kenyans continued to be poor and still are. 

Did we become free as we thought? Did we even taste or get a glimpse of what self-governance is really about? My answer is “NO”. It’s like the things we thought we were fighting against are the same things we struggle with everyday: poverty, bad decisions, corruption, unemployment, poor education, malnutrition, poor eating habits, environmental degradation, all of which are results of our negligence and the “don’t care mentality” of me, myself and I in our leaders. What a disappointment!

Youths at Jobless Corner, Nairobi, Kenya – Picture | Daily Active

Because of all these we have become busy, lazy and lacking in creativity. We are immoral and not serious with life. We don’t make use of opportunities that come our way and we depend more on international aid yet we can create wealth using our local talent and potential.

We have become careless and don’t take responsibility for our actions. We are full of fear rather than faith in ourselves. We don’t care about how our actions affect other people regardless of what they are. We have lost it.

For Kenya to enjoy the benefits of self-governance (Madaraka), we all have to first understand what good governance is all about; what authority we have as a country with it and/or the privileges that come with it.

As we celebrate our 58th Madaraka Day, we have to know that we are the change that we want to see. We have to live our lives as if the world was shouting at us to take responsibility. We have to know that the opportunity is here with and for us to rise up and take care of our country Kenya, to make the right decisions that will help us achieve the sustainable development goals.

If we do that, then we can start thinking about social and economic development, green economy, quality education, health and sustainability in Kenya.

Fredrick Chite is a Chief Medical Oncologist and Hematologist leading…