Letter to young Kenyans

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 @ 10:10AM

Obama came and spoke to you.

The Pope has come and spoken to you.

There is no one left to come and speak to you.  It is time for you to decide; the time for you to act. Do not let the words and encouragement of these two leaders go to waste.

Both President Obama and His Holiness were united on one point:  that you (and all young people) are responsible for the greatness of this country; you can change this country but not with tribalism in your hearts and minds, nor with hatred, or divisions.

Division is the only thing standing in the way of the greatness of this country and the greatness of this generation.  It is the only thing standing between this generation and the fight against poverty, disease and corruption.

Obama spoke about your unlimited potential and how Kenya stands at a crossroad a moment of both promise and peril. The choice between which of those paths we take is yours. He urged unity and a respect for a person based on who they are not where they come from.

Kenya needs an answer from you now.

The Pope was much more direct and clear. Tribalism equals destruction. His Holiness was also clear that you- have a choice to make and a path to choose.

“I want to invite you all today, to the young, and that we hold each other’s hands, let’s hold hands together. Let’s stand up as a sign against tribalism. We are all a nation, that’s how our hearts must be.

Tribalism isn’t just raising our hands today, it’s an expression of our desire, our hearts, and this tribalism is a work we must carry out every day against this tendency. You have to listen to others, it’s a work of opening your heart.”

I ask you to open your heart and to keep it open so that we can pursue the greatness and the potential of this country. I honestly believe that it can be done; it is possible to make a break from the hatred and division of the past and write a new chapter in the history of this country. This is not a country of stones or robots. You are not a robot. You are not a stone.

Tribalism has gotten us nowhere. Think about it. What has it achieved? What has it added to your life? To the country?

Both Obama and the Pope spoke about corruption. The Holy Father was categorical: Corruption can destroy this country. Corruption is not the path to life. Corruption is the path to death, he said.  Neither Obama nor the Pope said it but in this country tribalism is the most widespread form corruption-it is the ‘original sin.’  The people who take billions of shillings of our taxes do it under the cover of tribalism. The tribe will protect them. You will protect them. You will defend them.

My young friends we live a common life. The challenges of life belong to us all; poverty, health; and unemployment are not tribe specific and they never will be. If you go to the cancer ward at Kenyatta Hospital right now you will find that it reflects the face of Kenya. If you look at positions that need to propel Kenya forward  you will realize it does not. They call it politics. Are you okay with this?

Today there are young men and women like you who will go hungry because they could not get the job they need to buy their daily bread. This fate has nothing to do with their names.

Tribalism will condemn you and your children to a life of slavery to a group of individuals who will use you and never solve your problems.  All tribal leaders are the same because they believe in the same thing so there is no difference, no superiority between one and the other.  They swear by the same principles.

A choice between tribal chiefs or parties is a choice between destruction and destruction. The question you should ask yourself is how much destruction this country can take before it snaps?  Tribal chiefs are very good at commanding your loyalty. They use words like ‘we’ or ‘us’ or ‘our’ people and you fall in line.

“Be … suspicious … of all those who employ the term ‘we’ or ‘us’ without your permission. This is [a] form of surreptitious conscription … Always ask who this ‘we’ is; because more often than not it’s an attempt to smuggle tribalism through customs.”

Christopher Hitchens

My friends there is only one ‘we’ the one that pledges allegiance to the National flag. I ask you to set aside any other and focus on the one true union that binds us all.

Leaving tribalism is not going to be easy: you will need your ears; your mind and your heart. You will need to start listening to new voices and opening your heart and mind to new ideas.

Many will try and discourage you: they will say Kenyans will never give up tribalism. Ask them where they met all 44 million of us and agreed to that. They will tell you things will never change-and you should respond. Of course they won’t if I don’t do anything about it.

In short my young friends; I am merely saying that tribalism is a waste of your talents; your energy and the potential of your entire generation.

Obama was right when he said we have not inherited this nation from our ancestors but borrowed it from our children. You can make sure it does not return to them return it broken, bruised and battered by tribalism and corruption.

What say you?

11 Comments to "Letter to young Kenyans" add comment
Marisioh Tomm
December 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

Very encouraging and candid from a leader we aspire and look forward to. Thank you Sir for enlightening the youths.

chrispinus Otieno
December 2, 2015 at 10:53 am

Correctly put. The youth, we hold the key to prosperity of Kenya.
All we need is a uniting factor.

Mwangi Muura
December 2, 2015 at 11:44 am

I agree kabisa. We need someone who will progress this call so that it does not die but blossom

Isaiah Otieno Ogutu
December 2, 2015 at 11:44 am

These words by Hon Peter Kenneth are so touching. This reminder has come at the best time for me as a youth and I really appreciate. I went to one of the best schools in the country and I did one of the prestigious courses in the world, today; Water Engineering for which I am very grateful to God.
I must admit that our leader have failed this nation, beginning 2003. Beyond 2002, there was very “little” corruption. While in form 1 then I went to school with Kikuyu, Kisii, Maasai brothers but I didn’t realise that that I could segregate anybody because of their tribe. We solely competed and cooperated for the betterment of this nation.

The enemy tribalism started growing in 2003 after Kibaki took power, it is now entrenched into our system after Uhuru assumed office. What is more it, it has attracted its sister “Open corruption and MASSIVE looting of public coffers” After this government is through with us, I am sure everybody shall have felt the pinch.

rogers ombongi
December 2, 2015 at 11:57 am

very true mheshimiwa. i hope this is going to be the turning point of this country. we need upright and inspiring leaders like u. otherwise the current leadership will continue to deceive if we don’t speak

Walter Mwania
December 2, 2015 at 11:59 am

I totally agree with you Hon. Kenneth. There is no doubt you are the leading candidate who genuinely holds the key to delivering Kenya and setting it on the path towards solid socio-economic development where there is equity and taxpayers get value for their money.

While I hold this as true, I yet hold this against you: that making good speeches is good; we already know what is wrong with Kenya. Talking about it ain’t going to change anything, we will join many who are agonizing! We need action and leaders who can lead from the front.

Martin Luther King Jr. Made compelling speeches and did not stop at that, he organized, he mobilized and that brought about change.

Millions of Kenyans and youth to whom this your message to the youth will not see it, will not hear it… Only a few will. Shall we blame the millions who are following leaders whose vision is ‘our’ people!

So if you do not step out, to continually mobilize and organize the youth and Kenyans around these ideas, shall we blame Kenyans for supporting their ‘ethnic leaders’ I don’t know but I wish you could do more to get this message to the villages. Let the people run with the message.

Vincent G Ogero
December 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Very well put as President Obama quite candidly put It we must base our politics on ideas and ideologies that will propel this Country forward and not on tribal or ethnic mobilization .We must also shun corruption and corrupt practices .We can see our neighboring Countries like Tanzania ,Uganda ,Rwanda and even Ethiopia surging far ahead in economic growth and development because they have embraced this culture of zero tolerance to corruption and work ethics that promotes efficiency and less wastage .No large delegations to foreign Countries that add no value to the economy or appointments that are not based on merit but on ethnic considerations that do not reflect the true face of Kenya.

Mike Murimi
December 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Great words of wisdon mheshimiwa, its only us youth who can take Kenya to the heights it is supposed to reach, we are the strength and the backbone of our beloved country, oooh how i wish we could join hands and say NO to tribalism

Steve Njenga
December 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Well put Hon kenneth, young people we can propel this nation to greater heights. Lets live together as one people. If we elect people based on their ideologies and credentials, we will make Kenya a better place.

December 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Kenya is bigger than any one single tribe or individual. Our fore fathers dreamt of a FREE country called Kenya. They shed their blood to realize that dream and united all the tribes to one BIG family called Kenya. I wish we can all embrace our each other as brothers and sisters and build the country for our future generations. That was the dream of our forefathers. Meaning, even during elections, we should forget about tribes and focus more on who is best to lead this country without retreating to tribal cocoons.

Kenya is our Motherland. She is our mother. I dont understand why a Kenyan in public office would still from her own country- stealing from his/her own mother. Most of us Kenyans have failed on question of SELF IDENTITY. If we know who we are as Kenyans , we should defend and protect that what belong to us ALL rather than participate in looting mali ya uma.

Civic Education should be made Mandatory from Primary to Secondary Levels of Education to inculcate virtues of Nationalism. This will make Kenyans understand who they are- IDENTITY. All recruits to public service position should first be enrolled to National Youth Service (NYS) for at least 2 years to instill discipline across the entire public service. Some of the corruption we read is more to do with individual discipline combined with lack of identity. During those years of sacrifice to their Motherland, they will acquire skills and discipline that will help in their future engagement with the state- KENYA.
Sorry, today we have people being recruited from anywhere without induction to what is expected of them. Therefore, the 2 years will be for induction purposes.

Innocent Ongaga
December 2, 2015 at 4:08 pm

“Every generation needs a new revolution”……. Thomas Jefferson
Asante Mheshiwa..

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