Kenyans hardly join hands and speak in one accord. The first and only time it happened in the last century, the Britain’s Union Jack was replaced by the black, red, white and green flag after Kenya gained independence from colonial rule. History was rewritten this week as Kenyans for only the second time in history, joined hands to welcome in the dawn of a new era.
Try to recall the last time the entire political class, the religious leadership, professionals, the private sector and ordinary citizens.
When the National Rainbow Coalition wave swept away the KANU regime in 2002, the cockerel party had its leaders and fair share of supporters on the other side.
When Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for the 2010 Constitution, there was the ‘No’ side pulling in the opposite direction.
This explains why it was special to sit back and watch as leader after leader who took to the Bomas podium praised the BBI report as the mark of a new beginning and acclaimed the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his former archrival Raila Odinga that put the country on the current path to unity.
While many politicians have fiercely fought the handshake and the BBI fearing that it was all about political connivance, it was refreshing to see the critics, led by Deputy President William Ruto, make instant u-turn after realising how off beam they were in their attacks on Uhuru and Raila.
It was heart-warming to see the leaders concur that before them was a document with the potential of making Kenya a better country.
Below are inspiring remarks by leaders from across the political divide that underscored the significance of the BBI agenda and report.
Yusuf Haji, the BBI task force chair remarked;
“The people of Kenya, BBI has listened to you. More than 7,000 people gave their views to the BBI task force. These people who gave their view are from all ethnic groups, diverse backgrounds, people living with disabilities, the youth, advocacy groups, women among others. I assure you that this report is not by politicians or any other person. It is the first report in this country where the ordinary people have managed to give their views.
Uhuru on his part noted;
“This report is not about us as leaders but it is about the 47 million Kenyans. We must look for a political system where every Kenyan will feel like a winner.”
Raila reminded critics the document was not about achieving political ambitions but rather unite the country.
“The changes in BBI are not by or for Raila. Raila is around today but may not be there tomorrow. Uhuru will also not be there tomorrow, but Kenya will continue to move forward. We want to see a new Kenya, and out of this, a new Kenya is going to emerge. We want to see all the people of Kenya united, working as one people. That was the purpose of this BBI.
Ruto who previously opposed to the initiative, echoed Raila’s sentiments.
“I am very happy that the document’s recommendations inform us on how to build institutions, to get our politics away from personalities and ethnicity to institutions that will carry all of us to irrespective of who we are.
Moses Wetangula added;
“We all stand here to herald a new dawn. A new dawn that’s likely to improve our political hygiene… This is now the beginning that is going to open the window and the door Kenya and Kenyans to read in our history.
Kalonzo Musyoka – Wiper party leader
“This document before us really heralds the beginning of a new Kenya. One indivisible united Kenya… This is the beginning of a serious conversation and it is going to be contagious in the region and in Africa so that we sanitise our politics.”
Musalia Mudavadi – ANC party leader.
“Everybody here is talking about sharing political seats. What about motivating civil servants, teachers and the private sector? We are beginning to fall into the same trap again by making it look like the BBI is about sharing political positions.”
James Orengo – Siaya senator.
The greatest lesson coming out of this experience is that this BBI initiative has brought Kenyainto one tent… and I hope as we get out, the conversation will not be about you and me, but BBI.”