OPINIONPeople Daily

Politics of intolerance is Kenya’s worst enemy

Shadrack Agaki

Kenya is encumbered by bitter political rivalry that, if not checked, could lead to destruction. We must open our eyes to the dangers we face.  Civil wars and other forms of conflict have their basis in widespread suspicions and mistrust.

Kenya’s post-election Violence of 2007/08 is a reminder of how harmful such suspicions can be to a nation. Do we really want to travel that same dark path again?

To avoid that road, we must change how we practice politics. Given that politics informs a country’s social and economic direction, finding better ways of handling our political affairs is imperative for stability and prosperity.

For one, we need to steer clear of politics of intolerance and instead learn to tolerate, if not accommodate, differing opinions and ideas.

It is particularly important that politicians, and other opinion leaders, learn to check their words and actions.  The inflammatory remarks, rumours, innuendo, accusations and counter accusations that are currently ruling the political arena  pose a danger to the prevailing peace.

Kenyans must also stop cheering those who use every opportunity to mudsling  opponents. Instead, there should be constant calls for civility in the political arena.

The clergy  should desist from allowing politicians to use the pulpit as a platform to advance the politics of division and intolerance. The religious organisations have a moral duty to promote civility  in our politics.

As Dambisa Moyo observes, politics more than economics, will determine prosperity of a society. Therefore, there is urgency more than ever before for citizens to be mindful of the political leaders antics.

Politics of hatred and name-calling can only serve to derail development and should be rejected.

We must not blindly follow what is said by leaders. Citizens need to be more critical, questioning and interrogating issues instead of swallowing everything whole as served by politicians.

There is also need to build trust among Kenyans. Building harmony among communities is essential.

As Francis Fukuyama says; “Prosperity of a nation in the 21st Century depends on ability to build trust among communities.”

It should dawn on everyone that our  ethnic differences are not weaknesses but strength.  No doubt, diversity of thought and ideas forms the basis for creativity and innovation in business as well as in politics.

Let our various cultures serve as a melting pot for national creativity and innovation. Let our geographical diversity serve as a reminder of specialised capability for agricultural production and other forms of economic production.

Our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity must be our strength in the quest for prosperity.

Nurturing different talents and gifts in children is a critical area the 8-4-4 curriculum seems to have denied children. 

That is why it is important to support the Ministry of Education in the implementation of Competency Based Curriculum.

This new curriculum will ensure holistic development of children; and will form the foundation of country’s future transformation.

But education alone will not amount to much until we deliberately seek to transform the social fabric of our nation.

We need to consider going back to drawing from the wisdom of the Harambee spirit of the Independence era.

Indeed, strong community, as Thomas Friedman observes in his book Thank You For Being Late is the fuel that will accelerate creativity and innovation.

Citizens must be ready to engage in public participation. It is through such forums that public policy could be influenced.

It is encouraging to see that Kenyans have come out to offer their views on how Kenya can be made better during the Building Bridges Initiative public hearings. [email protected]

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