Kenya turned Forty eight on 12th December 2011. Forty eight months following the 2007/2008 post-election violence, I still live in the camps, internally displaced in my own country with my child of four years and nine months. Forty eight years after independence life expectancy is at a 'high' of 48, yet the economist holed up in the treasury tells me that the growth rate is at a mere 4.8 percent per annum. They attribute this to ignorance, poverty and disease.
Forty eight years on, it is politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice. They continue destroying my country, my destiny.
Forty eight years on, we have created wealth and can proudly boast of 48 billionaires. What an achievement, yet 48 percent of the country lives under a dollar a day. We are rained on as they reign in on us.
At 48, many Kenyan citizens are jobless, homeless and hopeless yet the government spends not less than 480 million shillings for nationwide celebrations on this 'auspicious occasion.' They filled their bellies with tea at eight in readiness to address a hungry nation. A quick count showed not less than 48 fuel guzzlers parked around the dais for the forty million or so Kenyans to see and drool.
At 48, 4.8 million of us still live under the permanent threat of hunger as the government does 'all it can' to avert this crisis which has now become an 'annual event.'
Forty eight years ago, we vowed to fight ignorance, poverty and disease. 48 years later, it is a hungry nation, a poor people, a dying generation, a country on permanent 'strike' mode. If it is not the teachers, it is the lecturers and if not them, it is the nurses and doctors.
48 years on, you ask them to pay taxes and they say they spend their monies to feed, clothe and bury you. They say they have loans to service, will not afford to put a meal on the table and worse still will not serve you better. They forget that the majority live from hand to mouth. The populist will queue at the tax collector's office, pay his tax and go back to collect his refund from parliament - what a pity. How easily we get fooled. How fast we forget.
Forty eight years on, Dedan Kimathi's remains still lie somewhere; we still do not know who killed Tom Mboya, Robert Ouko, Ronald Ngala, Pinto, JM Kariuki and others. Only in death do we realise we had heroes and heroines who lived and dwelt among us. Only in death do we honour them either by affording them state funerals, erecting monuments, buying expensive caskets, turning out in large numbers to display our largesse, and lately a new trend has emerged where we build houses for their widows and 'invite' the press during the grandiose opening, to appease the spirits.
Theodore Roosevelt said: It is emphatic that it is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Martin Luther tells me that human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
A man cannot ride you unless your back is bent.
Lincoln said that the probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. And lately, Obama told me that we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms.
Forty eight years on, I have no reason to find my way to the stadia, listen to radio or watch television to be treated to the usual song and dance, fanfare, parades, jets, display of armoury and military 'might' - the promise of a growing and working nation...'my government this, my government that'.
I lit up 48 candles in remembrance of bad leadership, ethnicity, corruption, insecurity, greed, poverty, inequality, historical injustices, vengeance, disease, hatred, discrimination, extrajudicial killings, unemployment, marginalisation and a host of other evils meted against the innocent people of Kenya.
For 48 minutes and 48 seconds, I was silent as I reflected on the intentions of the devious architects behind the unwarranted cost of living who have stolen, killed and destroyed my country.
For 48 hours, 48 minutes and 48 seconds, I engaged in an act of self-sacrifice. I held vigil with progressive brothers and sisters. We denied ourselves food and drink. We straightened our backs so that they do not ride on us again.
The bad men combined 48 years ago; we, the good, must associate now; else we will fall one by one, a defeated generation in a contemptible struggle,
Forty eight years later. History will judge us.
We must be guided by the voice of our conscience.
We need a new Kenya, a new beginning, a new hope, a new future. God Bless Kenya.
By Jeremiah Kiwoi
The author firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> is a Rights Advocate based in Nairobi.