‘The time has come to put Kenya first’


Thank you for your article (Nation – February 1, 2013), with respect to my address to the Kenyan youth concerning the importance of statesmanship if the sadly divided Kenya nation is to find itself united again after the presidential election of May 4, 2013 - within the spirit of "Harambee" and the concept of "One Family under God”.

Mr Mancham

Mr Editor, please allow me the opportunity to share with you and your readers the letter which I addressed to Mr Linus W. Gitahi, chief executive officer of the Nation Media Group in Nairobi on Saturday February 2 prior to my return to Seychelles.

I believe, you will agree, that the points I made in Kenya have pertinent relevancy to Seychelles where the government's policy, as declared, is to bring about unity in the nation through the consolidation of the national reconciliation process:-

“Dear Linus
On the eve of my departure from Kenya, after participating in the National Youth Summit 2013, at the invitation of the Brand Kenya Board, the Global Peace Foundation Africa and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), let me say what a privilege it has been to be here at the start of the election campaign to elect a new President.

The Summit brought together 2000 young leaders both male and female from all the 47 counties which constitute the great nation of Kenya. In my address, I emphasised how important it is for tomorrow's leaders to behave more like statesmen than mere politicians in meeting the challenges of national unity, so important to stability, and so important in the creation of a climate that would attract maximum investment. As this will not come about automatically after the elections, I called on the leaders competing for the Presidential Office to commit themselves to the creation of a Ministry of Internal Peace and National Unity in the spirit of Harambee and the One Family under God concept when forming a new Government.

Being credited to have achieved a high level of National Reconciliation in Seychelles by espousing a policy based of statesmanship, I would like to be able to share some thoughts with my Kenyan friends concerning the future and the possible achievement of a high level of national cohesion and harmony within the Kenyan nation.

The points I make could be debatable but I believe they are worth making and worthy of consideration as well.

1. The preoccupation of the politician is the next election. The preoccupation of the statesman is the next generation. The politician thinks more about getting power or staying in power and otherwise enjoying the benefits and privileges which power confers. The statesman on the other hand has a long-term vision. He puts national interest above partisan consideration. He does not believe in the policy of power at all cost. His ultimate desire is the transformation of a society and the emergence, in our context, of a greater Kenya and of a Kenyan people which is at peace with itself.

2. A Party may have a majority and be able to rule but that does not mean the ability to consolidate social harmony and ensure internal happiness and stability.

3. Confrontational politics result in the creation and perpetuation of what I call "Political Tribalism" - a situation where scarce talent and resources, instead of uniting for the common good and interest, are wasted in the creation of division and the promotion, at times, of artificial issues.

4. National Reconciliation is above all a healing process which is based on a genuine desire to promote more internal harmony and less social tension so that the overall national interest takes priority over partisan consideration.

5. In the pursuit of National Reconciliation, some things are better forgotten than said. Silence sometimes becomes golden. It is, however, recognised that there is no action without a reaction and that deeds speak louder than words. But above all, one must make it a point to avoid rubbing salt in old wounds.

6. If you look at the world today, you will find that there are more conflicts within States than between States. Since there has always been strong support by the Government and the rulers for the concept of non-interference in the internal affairs of a country, then the only way left to establish internal stability, respect and order is through the route of National Reconciliation.

7. Democratic freedom has its responsibilities. It solves problems but unbridled, it can also create others. An effective rule of law is vital. We have to strengthen the institutions, the family, the courts, the National Assembly and the Government in a way that they are not only accepted but also appreciated and respected.

8. We have to recognise that the people's role in a democracy does not end when they cast their votes. They have to live up and apply the standards and values which are the characteristics and foundation of democracy.

9. The paramount factor for success remains the quality of our people. How hard do we work? How much savings do we make? How powerful is our commitment to education and self-improvement, social discipline and our desire to do better for our families?

10. In our search for a greater future for our country, we must always remember the supreme purpose of life. The best lives are lived by those who pursue the lofty goal of working hard, not only to ensure their own well-being but also the well-being and happiness of others.

11. If we want peace and prosperity, we must strive for national unity but there can be no unity without going through the process of National Reconciliation. It is the only way before us - but it cannot be a one-way road nor a cul de sac.

12. I want to call for a partnership which comes from the heart and less from political maneuvering. I call for a Kenya of greater fraternal harmony, more dialogue and social contacts among the players on the national stage. Let us sincerely and honestly collaborate to ensure that our common resources, our experience and goodwill work in harmony with the national interest.

13. Paradise cannot be divided against itself. God did not give us this most beautiful of all countries for us to behave like cats and dogs conditioned by a "blue and red" politics which has lost relevance in the world today. Today, we must live on our own resources, not on polemics or slogans. Today, we must face the truth and not be victim of manipulative or divisive propaganda.

14. At the moment, we first think about ourselves, then about our political party and Kenya comes in the third place. So long as we think in this order of priority, Kenya will remain divided and we will dwell in the abyss of more problems, more difficulties and more confrontations. Today, we have no choice. The time has come to put Kenya first.

Finally, let me say that after five days in Kenya, following the on-going debates on the television and reading about the comments, the opinions and the editorial in your newspapers and discussing the future with several people of goodwill and influence, it is my conviction that the people of Kenya are ready to embark on a policy of necessary changes particularly in the sphere of national unity, harmony and fraternity.

I wish this great and beautiful Nation well in the years ahead and look forward to visiting in the future a Kenya of Peace, Joy and Harmony.

Yours sincerely
Sir James R. Mancham, KBE”

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