I attended the Jamhuri Day celebrations at Nyayo National Stadium on 12th December and as the helicopters flew by towing banners with messages congratulating Kenya on forty five years of freedom, I was overwhelmed with feelings of pride and love for my country. But just then, D got a message from Mwalimu Mati telling him that he’d just been arrested for wearing a black T shirt demanding that MPs pay their taxes.
It is extremely disappointing that the people sworn to protect us as Kenyans now work to deny us our rights and freedoms; that on the day that we celebrate our freedom, the government blatantly works to strip us of these rights that make us Kenyan. It is disappointing that the government only recognises these rights and freedoms in so far as they do not interfere with the will of the government. That in fact the only freedom truly recognised by the government is their self-proclaimed freedom to contravene the rule of law.
The police force can regularly be counted on to obstruct peaceful attempts by Kenyans to express their desire to enjoy their rights and freedoms; the rights and freedoms that Kenyan heroes secured for every Kenyan forty five years ago. What is scary is that these officers do not seem to understand that they are abusing everyone’s rights including their own. They don’t seem to understand that they are pawns of an unjust government that will use them and then spit them out, back into the society; back with the people who they now abjure. If they do realise this, then they just do not care. They live for the moment. A brief moment when their uniforms and arms give them false power to disregard their country’s constitution, to assault and kill protected by politicians who have no consideration for the rule of law. A brief moment during which they contravene values of integrity and courtesy set out by them themselves.
Where have all the politicians gone, who called us out to match in the streets to demonstrate against unjust governments? Where are all the politicians who went up in arms following the media ban during the 2007 post election violence? What Would Raila Do… about MPs and taxes were he not our Prime Minister today? What infectious rot is it in government, that erases the memories of those leaders chosen by the people;that makes them dead to the anguish of the people who created their path into government?
And what exactly do our leaders intend to do to get themselves re-elected come 2012? What lies will blind us as we re-elect the very people who make the rights and freedoms we were promised, so elusive? Come elections, who among us will remember 12th December, 2008 and call these leaders to account and who among us will once again be a stepping stone for these arrogant, devious, power-hungry liars to get back into government?
So what now? We celebrate our freedom but we are not yet free. Like Oginga Odinga wrote, “Not Yet Uhuru”. Kenyans must continue to fight for the opportunity to truly enjoy their rights and freedoms. We must continue to fight for true leadership. We must continue to fight for equality and justice. And when the day comes that we can truly enjoy our rights and freedoms as Kenyans, then let that day be called Jamhuri Day.