Our Constitution states “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya …” and never has this been more evident than in the aftermath of the Westgate Mall terrorism incident on Saturday, 21 September 2013.
Kenyans took ownership of their country, not waiting for politicians to drive the agenda and shape the story. We owned our flag, our city and our land. Adversity birthed brotherhood in Kenya, across tribe, race, class, religion and politics. No one could have envisioned this. Kenyans sang one song: #WeAreOne.
Unity indeed became our strength. We woke up to the truth that if one hurts, we all do. It did not matter which part of the country one lived or hailed from. Kenyans abroad and within. Blood bound us together more than tribe ever could. We stood as one. Members of the human race. Service to our brothers and sisters became our earnest endeavour.
Cost was not in question. The Westgate attack was both personal and corporate. Our security forces willingly lay their lives on the line in service of the nation. Voluntarily, we gave our blood, money, time, services and resources to the rescue and recovery endeavour.
In three days, the challenge was addressed. Kenya Red Cross raised Ksh 56,911,215 through M-Pesa from Kenyans to support their exemplary work the rescue and recovery response effort. Rare feats of statesmanship were evident across the political divide, as our politicians expressed the need for solidarity and pushed their differences aside to address the terrorism challenge at hand.
Kenyans rose to the task and ably honoured the lives of the 69 people who died, more than 1000 rescued and 175 injured. Ordinary Kenyan citizens set the bar, on selflessness and service. Can our politicians follow suit?
What will it take to keep ordinary citizens engaged in civic action in their counties and nation at large – beyond just emotive giving borne of disaster, Harambees and chamas?Selfless contribution to nation-building through active engagement in county governance processes, strengthening political parties, taking ownership of state funds under the Uwezo and Constituency Development Funds (CDF), holding public servants accountable, scrutinising legislation and petitioning Parliament and much more.
Will the real ‘mzalendo’ stand up? What will you do? Thoughts?