STATEMENT BY H.E. RAILA ODINGA AT THE LAUNCH OF BRIDGE TO NEW KENYA INITIATIVE
In the life of any nation, a time comes when the people and their leaders must audit the progress made towards the attainment of the goals and prayers laid out at the founding of the nation.
Abraham Lincoln said… “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
When such times come, the leaders entrusted to secure the goals, in our case: justice, unity, peace, liberty and prosperity for all; have a duty to reflect on their performance in the search for these hallowed goals.
Such a time has come for Kenya.
Fifty four years into independence, we are challenged to audit our progress towards the ideals for which our fathers fought to establish a free and independent country and for which many of our compatriots died.
We, the leaders are equally summoned to reflect on our performance towards the achievement of our nation’s aspirations.
This audit and introspection has been a long time coming.
Throughout our independence history, we have had doubts on how we have conducted our affairs in the face of growing divide along ethnic, religious and political lines. Regrettably, we have responded to our challenges by mostly running away from them.
We have moved from year to year, election to election, never pausing to deal with the challenges that our diversity was always going to pose to our efforts to create a prosperous and united nation. Consequently, the ties that bind us are today under the severest stress.
Our diversity appears destined to be a curse to ourselves today and to our children tomorrow.
In the past, we have given a lot of attention to institutional reforms in the hope that these could lift us to the next level of nationhood and make us a blessed land.
Seven and a half years ago, we gave to ourselves a new Constitution. We put our faith in it as the instrument to revolutionize our nation. In this and many other ways, we created some of the best hardware any country has ever possessed to engineer their affairs.
We must be courageous enough to admit that it has not worked. It has failed because we are yet to upgrade our software. We have been pouring new wine into old wineskins. The Gospel tells us that new wine needs new wineskins.
The time has come for us to confront and resolve our differences. These differences are becoming too entrenched.
No two Kenyans agree on the origins of the differences and what they portend.
Millions of our children continue to be born and married into these differences. People are dying out of these differences.
Many of these differences are already well entrenched in the third generation of Kenyans and are currently leaking into the fourth generation in primary and secondary schools.
Yet in many instances, Kenyans cannot remember why and where they disagreed in the first place.
As we fight ostensibly to save ourselves from each other, the reality is, we need to save our children from ourselves.
My brother and I have therefore come together today to say this descent stops here.
We refuse to allow our diversity to kill our nation. We refuse to be the leaders under whose watch Kenya slid into a failed nation.
This is a call to self-reflection. We have to look into ourselves and challenge our readiness to make the changes that will allow our institutional reforms to work.
So long as we remain divided, acrimonious, selfish and corrupt, no amount of institutional reform will better our lives.
The reform process will become an exercise in diverting attention from our own failings and taking refuge in blame game.
We therefore seek your partnership in this initiative fellow Kenyans. We are all sailing in this one ship. We must come together to scoop out the water that has been sipping in or we shall capsize.
We have travelled too far to turn back.
We would never make it back to the shore.
Yet, we can’t make it to our destination either. Our only option is to come together and scoop out these waters of animosity that we have been pouring into the boat before we all sink.
Once again, as Lincoln said… “The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail — if we stand firm, we shall not fail.
God Bless Kenya.