Kenyans Languish in Poverty Of Graft, 55 Years After Madaraka “Internal Self Governance”.
Kenya and Kenyans at large have gone through interesting twists and turns since the country attained its independence in 1963, and became a republic in 1964. Today more than ever before there are more reason why Madaraka Day could become irrelevant: is that there is a little difference between the June celebration and Jamhuri Day. Madaraka Day is celebrated on the day Kenya attained internal self-rule; Jamhuri Day marks the day that Kenya became fully independent. Both days, six months apart, oscillate around Kenya’s self-determination.
Today is an interesting day on the Kenyan calendar and for a long time there was very little clarity about what constituted a national holiday and why these were created. They seemed to be named at the whim of presidents or, at the very least, with presidents in mind. The generations right before the millennia’s can recall very well the formation and declaration of the now-abolished Moi Day. It was created to celebrate the presidency of Kenya’s longest serving head of state, President Daniel arap Moi. It’s no different from the one of this predecessors Kenyatta Day, which was initially set aside to remember the Kenyans who fought for independence but quickly became a celebration of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.
Fast forward brings us to a date then the country was above 40 years of age, in 2010 a new constitution was promulgated. This brought a fresh and well defined meaning to national holidays. Particularly as prescribed in Article 8 of the 2010 Constitution recognises Kenya’s three national days as Madaraka Day (June 1), Mashujaa Day (October 20) and Jamhuri Day (December 12).
On Madaraka Day, Kenyans celebrate the moment in history when the country was granted internal self-rule by the British colonialists. Ironically, there is no much to celebrate especially with the recent wave of corruption scandals that have hit the country. Though we adopted a new constitution in the recent past I still believe that much of the basic idea that helped to formulate such rules and regulations didn’t exist in Great Britain, criminal charges could not be brought against white settlers for enforcing them and so the corrupt will always walk free after years of court cases. I am a believer of democracy and rule of law however the outcry in the public domain is baying for the blood of those corrupt.
We are so luck that the constitution also gives Parliament leeway to enact legislation prescribing other Laws and governance policies and to make provision for their observance. On that authority, members of the National Assembly should tailor make the rules that will help this country to save guard the resources of this country. Today more than any other year before remained untouched. But over the years this mid-year celebration has seemed to lose its relevance. There are several reasons for this, and it’s time to think critically about the nation’s presence. Perhaps, the time has come to do away with just talks and enact strict and draconian rules.
Among other reasons Madaraka Day has become less important over the past few decades relates to a dwindling sense of nationalism among Kenyan citizens. In the euphoria that followed independence, national holiday celebrations – especially those that referenced Kenya’s freedom from the British – held much more meaning than they do now. Fifty four years down the line, Kenya has outgrown its baby politics. It has transitioned from the ethos of nationalism to a governance system that thrives on ethnicity, nepotism and corruption among other vices. The patriotic and uniting fervour witnessed during the struggle for freedom in the early days of independence has waned significantly.
Many have argued that the splintering of the Kenyan collective along tribal lines was caused by the failure of the independent country’s founding fathers to instill a strong sense of social cohesion around the concept of a Kenyan identity. And, since the advent of Kenya’s devolved system of government in 2013, national holidays have taken on a county dimension. Festivities are now held across the country, presided over by county governors. In addition President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015 announced that at least two of the three national holidays would be held outside Nairobi. While these moves may have been seen as possible means of promoting national cohesion and integration, in contrast it has done little to bring back waning significance and lustre to national celebrations.
Kenya’s collective disdain for nationalism has not been helped by the fact that ordinary people have little faith in government to address issues like the rising cost of living, unemployment and corruption. In my view as a writer on current issue affecting Kenya, national holidays, such as Madaraka Day, are merely an extension of the State’s platform to outline its achievements – whether those are real or imagined. Money is another concern. Celebrating national holidays costs the government taxpayers money. For that reason alone, it would make sense to merge Madaraka with Jamhuri Day. In any event, the two holidays fall just six months apart and Jamhuri Day is the more significant national holiday.
At the end of the day Kenyans must ask themselves why successive governments have allowed the oppression of citizens to continue by allowing colonial laws to remain on the book? A question that I can’t answer today. Am not sure how many more Madaraka we will have to bear before someone can hear our voice but, for sure one Day Kenyans will Celebrate the Madaraka as is supposed to be. Freedom of self governance.