As I write this I am seated in a boardroom at the Egrove Campus of Oxford University refining a presentation on Africa scenarios… But I simply cannot stop thinking about one of my great loves, a beautiful nation called Kenya.
Following days of unrest caused by the killing of a controversial Mombasa cleric, innocent Kenyans have lost their lives, Churches have been burnt, police have been targeted in disturbing grenade attacks. The government has announced a Commission of Inquiry to look into the killing of the cleric but I cannot stop thinking of all the lives that have been lost in the riots. May they all rest in peace and may justice be delivered both by man and God for these needless killings.
What we are seeing across the continent seems to be growing pains. The Northern states of Africa are still in limbo, struggling to find their social and political terra firma following what the western world described as a Arab Spring, really an Arab Winter. Meanwhile the revolutions of the North have impacted on the stability of other African states like Mali, just reminding us all that the continent is interlinked.
Down South, the government of South African is contending with the aftermath of the recent tragic mines shooting that saw many lives lost. Achieving the balance between the provision of a secure environment and the protection of the rights of the individual is a clearly a delicate balancing act for African governments during these difficult times.
Like the journey of the chosen people to the promised land, Africa is enduring the struggle in the desert. But we must not lose hope. The continent has come so far already. Even just a glance at East Africa and the increased stability in the region shows this journey is well under way… Not delivered by Western powers but by our own people. While Kenyans mocked our armed forces on social media saying they are only good for eating corned beef and biscuits in the barracks, the Kenya Defence Forces have done an exemplary job in Somalia, containing a nation that even the US army retreated from, and the KDF has achieved this with great restraint and humility. The effective partnership between the Somali Transitional Government Forces and thereafter AMISOM to stabilize the Somali nation is another sign of a continent moving forward.
The change is here and the challenge is now for African governments to ensure peaceful and stable environments for growth and development. The purpose of the radical minority is to destabilize, and so governments must ensure they maintain control even as they focus on maintaining support of the majority.
On 28th June 1914 a man called Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia. Some say Princip was a Bosnian revolutionary, others describe him as a Serbian nationalist. Whatever the case may be his action triggered the Word War 1, a vicious war that claimed the lives of 9 million people and wounded 21 million – a war that did nothing to advance the Bosnian and Serbian interests. We must guard against triggers that lead Africa down a path of destruction for all. The newfound democratic space in many African states brings with it increasing responsibility. The people of Africa must seize this opportunity and take responsibility to contribute to the creation of a stable and secure environment.
My fellow Kenyans and Africans, let us resolve to close the door to disorder, violence and chaos… the recipes for disaster. While the growing pains we see today are a natural aspect of resistance to change the onus lies on each of us to ensure we do not lose track of our focus on building a greater nation and continent even as we face these significant challenges. If the majority pull together the minority cannot destroy our dream and our path towards a greater society.
God bless Kenya and God bless Africa as we continue on this journey together. Harambee!