Goodbye 2013: If it were as simple as that

2013 was an eventful year for Kenya. Today, the air is filled with mixed emotions depending on individuals’ experiences of the past year.

For those that the year heralded good tidings, their emotions when bidding good bye 2013 could be nostalgic and clingy. If only the good year could last longer.

For those whose experiences were terrible: Good riddance and a quick hopeful dash to 2014 could be the feeling.

For me, I will remember the following about my country in 2013

  • The March 2013 general elections were the most divisive. Social media warfare related to the conduct and outcome of the elections must have reached genocidal proportions. The leadership of the country, both in government and opposition is still ratcheting up campaign-type politics and doing little to unite the country. Ethnic bigotry appears to have hit its worst level since independence;
  • 3000 Kenyans lost their lives through road carnage. Not even well presented rhetoric by officials on new measures and counter measures reduced the killings. Unqualified drivers, petty social arrogance and bad road manners, poor law enforcement, corruption, poor road design and state of repair/maintenance, impunity, greed and alcoholism sent so many early to their graves. We forgot quickly;
  • The authorities bungled the response to the Westgate terror attack. When state operatives were not lying about the siege, armed forces were engaging each other in friendly fire and the army expelling the better placed Recce Company from site. may so that KDF cadres could loot better? The year has ended without the public knowing if or not the mall attackers were killed or they escaped. The presidency has retained all the officers that failed in the response. The Chief of General Staff was secretly promoted last week for another one or two years. Mediocrity got rewarded;
  • Insecurity raged throughout the country, unabated. Socioeconomic challenges like radicalization were interpreted as militaristic problems and ineffectively countered as such. Those that are failing our policing services and quality had their jobs secured and they got feted even as they faltered, sometimes deliberately;
  • Only elected and nominated politicians, tenderpreneurs and big businesses appear to have been happy with the economic showing of the year. The average and poor Kenyans got slapped from all sides and their progress either stagnated or shrunk, what with the high cost of living. The economic trajectory of the new administration is still not very clear but a preference for heavy investment in infrastructure seems settled, with all its shortcomings in real economic growth and progress terms;
  • We marked 50 years of independence with pomp and pageantry. Throughout the celebrations, any thought of encouraging introspection that could help lift us off with greater momentum going forward was dismissed as a party-poop proposition. So the theme that carried the day was JUST CELEBRATE. We failed to learn from our history of under-performance and romance with mediocrity. If only we could have spent even an hour of national soul searching and identified some of the NEVER AGAINS for our country…;

If it were so easy to say goodbye 201without thinking of its pending business: Or without realizing that the promise of newness by the new administration was actually lip service and freshness seldom went past wardrobe choices and copied speeches and business marketing.

If only I was not the one to report that countries and their people can be conned, abused and repressed digitally. If only it was a lie that we might have started another stretch of smallness in the hands of quick money makers and leeches posturing as new generation visionaries.

If it were as simple as discarding the past year only because our experiences in the year were localized one-offs.

My hope for 2014 is that it will be a period of deeper introspection and more public interest pursuits. A year when Kenyans, in one accord, all of us, strive to make a difference and cause the heralding of a new way of doing things that grows us into a greater, more caring and just nation.

Happy 2014. Pamoja!

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