You will never fully appreciate what the word ‘ownership’ means until it has been taken away from you. I learned that during communism, the government took away your freedom and forced you to depend on them for all your basic needs. In other words if you owned two cows, the government took both and gave you part of the milk.
I know because in 2007, when the election took place, many people were forced to escape from their homes overnight with just the clothes on their backs.
I tell you this because I see my fellow Kenyans taking ownership for granted! And it breaks my heart! Ask the people who were displaced from their farms, they will tell you the value of owning something you can call yours.
Every Kenyan citizen has an enviable heritage. Heritage as defined by the dictionary is that which can be inherited such as virtues, possessions, characters, etc. Heritages are usually passed down a particular lineage, family, etc.
No one has an inheritance in a family to which he does not belong. In the same way, being a Kenyan citizen is a prerequisite for you to be an inheritor of a rich heritage of this country. In other words it is our heritage to be free, independent, fruitful, prosperous, healthy and to enjoy long life among other things.
It is a paradox however to witness one wanting to claim to have an inheritance in a family where one does not belong. In other words allowing one to interfere with our heritage of freedom and independence is a clear lapse in protocol and leadership.
I am talking about what we witnessed recently when President Obama’s top diplomat was in the city. All the hotel guests in the Intercontinental Hotel were ordered not to leave. Even Kenya’s top diplomat was not spared either. In fact he was forced to sit in his car as he couldn’t leave the compound until the top American diplomat left. This is what I describe as trying to inherit in a family (Kenya) to which you do not belong.
Many may wish to defend and justify all these incidents with a view that America is a world super power and therefore a supreme leader of world nations. This is what I call a myth, a tantalising myth for Kenyans, a scary myth for Africans, but a myth nevertheless.
As Kenyans we believe in prospering thy neighbour, not begging thy neighbour. By doing so, Kenya will prosper. On a grander scale, if America will help Kenya to prosper, America will prosper too. Indeed, if Kenya and America prosper, then the world will prosper in turn.
The ancient Greek historian, Thucydides, at the end of his history of the Peloponnesian wars, came to the conclusion that, “…in the affairs of nations, the strong will demand what they will and the weak will yield what they must…”. But much of Kenya will no longer yield. For much of Kenya is no longer weak – in material or mental terms. Much of Kenya will resist. Some in Kenya will talk back. And we will do so because we have thrown off the shackles of mental servitude. Kenya is our home. We must move in and own it. Some Kenyans think that they will be liked because they are good to those countries that bully us. Dennis Wholey once said, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.”.
I always say that the value of a leader be either a nation or an individual is not determined by size but by function. Take for example a car, which one of these is the most important part of a car: the battery or the terminal wire? If you are like most people you will say “The battery because it has the power”.
Well, if the battery is the most important part of the car, let us disconnect the wire. The battery costs about Kshs. 8,000/-, the little wire missing from the car cost about Kshs.500/- without it the car will not start. This is because the terminal wire was created to transmit electrical current from the battery to the generator and to the engine to ignite the spark plugs that will provide the fire to turn the pistons and turn the engine over.
This means that each one of the car’s parts is a leader. A spark plug can never be a battery. A battery can never be a manifold. A manifold can never be a generator. Therefore each part is important. This concept of leadership contradicts the philosophy that leadership is reserved for a small, elite group of nations “chosen by providence and entitled to lead the masses of incapable nations in need of guidance by those of superior status.
Just as a terminal wire is part of the 60,000 parts in a car engine so is Kenya a part of world nations whose function is of equal measure with other nations. So let us begin the creation of the century of planet earth through mutual respect. Mutual respect demands an acceptance that those who have a different view are not necessarily misguided or evil. Mutual respect demands a minimum level of humility on all sides. The countries of the west have a right to their preferences. But they have no right to ram their preferences down everyone’s throats. They have the right to resort fully to the power of persuasion, but they have no right to resort to the persuasion of power
The moral of the issues that I have raised is that we need to stop majoring in the minor things! We need to put things into proper perspective by continually reminding ourselves of what the big picture really is about our country. The pig picture for me is to inherit the riches (owning our ownership) of our country and use it to change humanity. We have taken things for granted for so long and allowed even corruption to take deep roots.
Take for example oxygen. Oxygen is all around us from the day we take our very first breath. We breathe in, breathe out, without giving in a second thought. Oxygen is so plentiful that we take it for granted. We had peace for so many years until we took it for granted. When was the last time you sat down and thanked God for the ability to breathe? Probably not since you got everything smooth sailing from the time you were a kid.
We get so caught up in our lives, we start taking the things that are most dear to us for granted, like oxygen. But what happens to people who develop asthmatic condition? All of a sudden they appreciate the miracle of breathing, and they savor every precious lungful of oxygen.
I believe the same can be said of the great riches in our nation. If it didn’t surround us, everybody would be clamouring for it. That is why people from all over the world dream of coming to Kenya, the “land of opportunity”. They have been desperate for oxygen all their lives, and they keep hearing about a country where virtually anyone can gulp down all the oxygen he wants just by making the effort. Like oxygen, you must stop taking the country’s riches for granted.
Take charge! Who is in charge? You are! Who has got the power? Every Kenyan has the power. Move in and own your ownership because Kenya is our family and no one can be allowed to inherit in a family where he or she does not belong.