In a three thousand two hundred and forty-four worded (3,244) inauguration speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta devoted only one hundred and seventeen (117) to the issue of land. And of the 117 words addressing the land issue, one can argue that just forty-two – approximately 1.3% of the total number of words in the speech – dealt with the issue from the perspective that has been at the heart of disputes between the various communities in the country. The president said this:
“My government will strive to work with all actors to ensure that the issue of land will never again be a contentious or a divisive subject but rather that land will be seen as what it truly is, a factor of production.”
Nowhere in the speech did the president touch on nor propose any solutions to the plight of the internally-displaced people (IDPs). Nowhere in the speech that has been praised and panned alike did Mr. Kenyatta talk about the impact of corruption or the many other isms that have and continue to sap the nation of its will and drive to excel.
What I heard from the in-coming president were lofty platitudinous themes and lines. While these lofty and grandiose alliterations are to be expected in an inauguration speech, that they seemingly came at the expense of what in my opinion were more pressing issues – addressing the issue of land ownership with the seriousness it deserves and not in passing, the still-unresolved suffering of thousands of Kenyans who were uprooted from their homes by the post-election violence of 2007 and the widespread and rampant (official) corruption – is alarming and portends the (misplaced) priorities of the in-coming administration.
I understand that there is a time and place for everything. I also realize that one should never miss an opportunity to make an impact. That the person being inaugurated as president was also the son of the country’s first president added to the momentous nature of the occasion. Additionally, the inauguration of Kenya’s 4th President in the wake of the colossal failure of the election and “inauguration” of 2007 was, in my opinion, an occasion tailor-made for making an impact; illustrating the stark contrast between the transition of power now and then; not to mention that the person being inaugurated was one of three persons accused, along with his deputy, of funding and instigating the crimes against humanity after the same failed elections of 2007! The fore-going three reasons set the stage for Mr. Kenyatta to use the occasion to convey to the country that his administration was serious about the country’s long term progress and stability.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration speech should have addressed the tri-headed monsters of land ownership, resettlement of the IDPs and the rampant (official) corruption.
It did not.
Maybe the fact that the three people most responsible for creating, perpetuating and exacerbating the culture of land-grabbing, corruption, nepotism and tribalism were sitting right behind President Kenyatta on the VIP dais dissuaded him from pointedly addressing them.
- The inauguree and in-coming president, Kenyatta Fils was representing his father Kenyatta Pere, who as Kenya’s founding father has been lionized and immortalized in the annals of the country’s history. I would add to this near-deification of the country’s first president an asterisk and the qualifier that Kenyatta Pere single-handedly created the country’s land problems, not to mention its tribal divisions and the culture of patronage shortly after it gained independence from the British. In a cruel twist of irony reflected in a narrative germinated by the principals of the victorious Jubilee Coalition during the run-up to the just-concluded elections, Kenyatta Son is facing judgment by the same “foreigners” who imprisoned Kenyatta Father in Kapenguria during Kenya’s fight for independence! The more things change, the more they stay the same!
- Mr. Moi – need I say more?
- Mr. Kibaki came into the presidency in 2002 with as much goodwill and support as any president of a diverse country would want. Both the goodwill and support was broad and deep. The country was unified AGAINST the one person most Kenyans blamed for the downturn in its economy, social cohesiveness and international standings – Daniel Arap Moi. Fast forward five years later to 2007 and like they say, the rest is history. No amount of revisionism can change the fact that Mr. Kibaki’s “re-election” in 2007 and the surreptitious “swearing-in” under cover of dark amidst wide-spread charges of ballot-stuffing and an assortment of shenanigans combined to convulse Kenya into Rwanda Part Deux.
Like I said in previous posts, I am willing to cut Mr. Kenyatta some slack as he steadies himself into the presidency; a combined Herculean and Sisyphean task if ever there was one. On the other hand, I would be remiss if I failed to listen to and analyze his inauguration speech without pointing out the blatant and glaring omissions i.e. what the in-coming president did not say.
It is my opinion that what Mr. Kenyatta did not say in his inauguration speech does not augur well for his ability, indeed willingness to address and give the issues of land ownership, re-settlement of the IDPs and official corruption the import they deserve.