Kenya needs men of integrity

How time flies! Can you believe that the year we called “new” just the other day is fast coming to an end? While it has been a good year for some, others found it a bit bumpy. As a country, what stood out were revelations of the wanton corruption in government and levels of impunity that defied any laws or deity.

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There was the case of the 134-acre Karen land, then Lang’ata Road Primary School whose playground had been fenced off by “private developers.” There were stories of people being dispossessed of their land in parts of Eastlands by goons who sold land they never owned. Then ministers and parastatal chiefs had to be suspended over allegations of corruption in their departments. But the mother of them all has been the unrestrained theft reported in the ministry of Devolution and Planning where money has been stolen left, right and centre, and prices of goods inflated many times over.

When such theft is reported, we tend to blame the “government” and complain “public money” is being stolen. But government is people; it is you and I. When money is lost in dubious transactions, it is men and women – flesh and blood – that steal. It is you, your parent, your spouse, your friend or colleague that is corrupt.

As we come to the end of this year, I would like us to reflect on what this disease does to our country. When money is stolen from the government kitty, it means funds meant for public services will not be available. Our hospitals will not have medicine, medical staff will not be paid and people will die in hospital corridors and ambulances (if any is available) for lack of equipment, some as mundane as a hospital bed.

It also means that our roads will not be repaired and new ones will not be built; that cost of education will remain high and this burden will be borne by the common man – you and me. It means you will never feel safe in your own home because security personnel have been compromised or demoralised due to poor pay and compensation. In the end, it means that we will live a dog’s life and die miserably. Some of the aforementioned are already happening. And no, I am not a prophet of doom; I am just saying it like it is.

But we can redeem ourselves and save Kenya for future generations. All that we need is integrity. In his autobiographical book, For My Legionaries, Cornelius Zelea Codreanu writes,

“Romania is dying because of a lack of men, not a lack of programmes.” That can very well be said about Kenya. And integrity is what differenciates real men and imitations.

For Kenya to end corruption and to prosper as a bastion in Eastern Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa at large, we need men of integrity at the helm. A man of integrity is one who does in secret only what he wouldn’t mind talking about in public. A man of integrity can be counted on to say the truth always and to stand for what is right and just, even if it hurts his immediate interests.

And the best place that we can learn to be men again is in our homes, with our spouses and children. Recently, my daughter reprimanded me for telling her to wear her safety belt while I hadn’t buckled up. “Teacher told us to first do what we want others to do before we can tell them to do it,” she exclaimed.

I apologised and thanked her for that lesson. My point is that we must be men of integrity in our families first. Integrity means faithfulness to your spouse, dedication to family and truthfulness in your dealings with everyone.

You cannot say you will stand against corruption in government when you are of questionable repute at home. Be a man at home with your spouse and children, be a man among neighbours, be a man in your community and you will be man for the country. For what does it profit a man to acquire the whole world and lose his own soul?

If we can begin small (in our homes) and be straight forward with everyone, we can then move a notch higher and slowly but surely change the whole country. Rwanda has done it. Corruption is not tolerated at any level of government and the result is evident. The country has a comprehensive medical care system that covers everyone and the economy is doing well.

As another year beckons, let us resolve to start clean. If you are used to underhand dealings, stop it and start laying the groundwork for integrity. Kenya needs you.

Published in December 2015

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