A few days ago on Thursday 27th May, I was privileged to offer the final prayer during the eighteenth National Prayer Breakfast that was held at Parliament Grounds. Just before my prayer to God Almighty that our leaders may work in unity, President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke very powerful words when he referenced Peter Waiyaki, the keynote speaker and said that, ‘Bwana Waiyaki asante sana. I don’t think there is a word I would remove from what you have said. Let it not be that we have heard today and tomorrow we have forgotten. Hope is a continuous process. It’s how we live every day that matters.’
The fact that the President committed himself to the message in Mr. Waiyaki’s speech was quite commendable because the speech was quite hard hitting.
“The corruption scandals we thought were gone in 2002, 2010 and 2013 are back with a vengeance. One feels they really never went away. Kenyans now have a sense of despair as they come to terms with both low level and high level of corruption,” Mr. Waiyaki said at one point.
In his brief remarks, President Kenyatta gave the nation a powerful antidote that can be used not only to fight this perennial corruption but also transform the nation drastically. The President said that, ‘Kenya cannot be changed by any single person. But us working together, we can and we shall make a difference.’
The key words here are ‘working together.’ Incidentally, Deputy President reference also used that word — together — when he referenced a previous speech by the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. In that speech, Right Hon. Raila Odinga reminded the nation about Isaiah 1:18 in which the Almighty God calls out to His people to ‘come let us reason together.’
Clearly, a time has come for Kenyans to come together and stop pulling in different directions. This may not be entirely feasible in politics because ultimately politics is a game of competition. But politics should not be an impediment for Kenyans of goodwill to come together economically, environmentally and in healthcare.
Four out of ten Kenyans live below the poverty line. Poverty is a trojan horse that brings with it a fleet of other enemies including disease, unemployment and food insecurity. This means that when people live below the poverty line, they are almost always unemployed; they are prone to disease and they are caught in the clutches of rampant food insecurity. It is therefore accurate to say that four out of ten Kenyans are struggling to find jobs, put food on the table and combat disease. As a nation, we must pull together to pull them out of this morass.
In order to come together in a powerful way that will engender transformation, we need to borrow a leaf from our women. The UN Women reports that rural women are key agents for development. This is because ‘they play a catalytic role towards achievement of transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.’ Its no wonder therefore that if we equip our women with sufficient tools and financing, there will be 150 million fewer hungry people in the world.
If Kenyans are to come together to combat hunger, disease and unemployment, there is need for us to take unprecedented action to empower our women with tools that will enable them to be more profitable in business and secure better jobs. They can no longer be consigned to the periphery. Now that we have Kenya’s first ever female Chief Justice and East Africa’s first ever full-fledged President, we must accelerate women empowerment in all sectors, more so in rural areas.
Meanwhile, I call upon women leaders in this nation to rise to the occasion and do what their male counterparts seem unable to do sometimes — pull together in combating the pressing problems that we are facing. They might just be the key to our long quest for National Transformation.