• April 19, 2024
  • Last Update April 19, 2024 7:23 AM
  • Nairobi

Madaraka Day is nothing short of a grand delusion

Madaraka Day is nothing short of a grand delusion

Madaraka Day, when Kenyans proudly celebrate the dawn of internal self-rule, was commemorated on June 1 just as it has been every year since 1963. Not even the government-imposed restrictions occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic could deter the celebrations.

This national holiday has always been a major opportunity to showcase and flex our military prowess – as a reminder to the former colonial masters that the power we exercise and enjoy today was well fought for and won. It has always been a day of pomp and colour as men and women, enlivened and hopeful of a better tomorrow, holler with an energy that is akin to that of an exorcist. It is as though the electrifying celebrations are aimed at thoroughly crushing the evil spirit of the colonialist.

But even as we celebrate, certain salient concerns continue to beg for answers. The greatest of these, which many citizens have raised repeatedly, is: What common good did madaraka bring? Was it really worth the lives lost and the blood shed in the struggle for independence? 

Many men and women of impeccable character have stated that the common good resulting from internal self-rule is in fact inadequate and lopsided. Some brave souls have been even more brazen and said the attainment of independence brought no common good at all. Instead, what happened was a change of colonial masters – from the white man to the black man – therefore the celebrations are misguided. In other words, it was a case of changing the players without changing the nature or rules of the game.

To see if this claim holds any water, it is important to delve into what transpired soon after madaraka and examine the manner of the white man versus that of the black rulers who took over. It is common knowledge based on historical facts that the colonial masters’ representatives were cruel and unapologetically racist. It is a naked fact that the colonialists were emblematic of the white supremacy mentality. The white man was grossly conceited and saw himself as a god over the darker-skinned members of the same species.

This emboldened the black man to fight for what he believed was rightfully his: Freedom and land. The yoke of colonialism had already weighed heavily on his neck and the pain of losing land to the self-declared master was just unbearable. It was time to shake off the imposter, come rain or shine.

Ridding our ancestral land of the ghastly atrocities of the white man was no walk in the park. Only the brave – those who had endured the rite-of-passage knife or the tooth plucker – could withstand the heat. And our men of valour were equal to the task; blood was shed and lives were lost in the hope of a better life. What a magnificent sacrifice and no wonder that when Kenya was declared independent 57 years ago, a celebratory mood rent the atmosphere.

Madaraka was sweeter than honey. For the first time, the black man had beaten the white man conclusively, or so the black man thought as he danced himself lame to traditional tunes. Under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, our founding fathers declared poverty, ignorance and disease enemies of the state to be fought more fiercely than the colonialists had been fought. With the entire country exuding a new energy, surely it was just a matter of time before the three nuisances were utterly vanquished.

Left: Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Right: Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

But the hope of a better tomorrow lasted only until the ink with which it was written dried. The ensuing betrayal was horrific to say the least and the mood soon went from jubilation to sorrow and regret. The common suffering under the colonial masters was quickly and conveniently forgotten as those who found themselves at the pinnacle of power suddenly assumed the same behaviour as the white man. It was disheartening to witness those who had declared their unconditional love and care for all ethnic groups in the country almost instantaneously turn discriminative, singling out their own tribes as the most important and relevant while disrespecting and mocking others.

To say that the dream of creating a united and happy nation was killed in its infancy is an understatement. That dream was willfully suffocated and dismembered to achieve ulterior motives similar to the white man’s. With this, madaraka became meaningless to the great majority.

Tribal hatred and its cousin clanism became part and parcel of daily government practice. Corruption was born out of ethnic correctness as people who wielded political power or their close associates stole public resources in broad daylight, with no one ready or willing to bring them to book. Skewed resource allocation soon followed as ethnic biases matured. It had by this time become fashionable and commonplace for heads of institutions and government departments to saturate the places under their jurisdictions with men and women from their villages. Such was the case with Cabinet appointments right from the start and the vice persists to date. 

So when one pretends to wonder why most of Africa, including our own country, lags behind in development, he should be ignored. The writing is boldly written in the sky for anyone with eyes to see; the message is loudly broadcast for anyone with ears to hear. Only the blind and deaf should be excused for asking why Kenya still chokes in huge endless loans with very little to show for them when countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea and India, which were poorer than Kenya at independence, are way more developed today.

The fruits of tribalism and corruption are sweet and edible only for those who watered the plants of tribalism and corruption. The great majority of citizens continue to reap bitter fruits – we have seen how in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, our government has been unable to bail citizens out of their dire need. The question is: When shall we wake up from the deception of tribal correctness? I implore Everett Standa, the unparalleled poet, to ask one more time: “Will you hear me?”

It is naïve to believe that inequitable distribution of resources and heavy borrowing without accountability can result in a developed nation. Even if all the members of one single ethnic tribe were to become millionaires while the other ethnic groups were to remain paupers, we would not become a First World nation. As long as Kenya remains a country of a thousand millionaires and 50 million beggars, any hope of attaining the “developed nation” tag will remain a mirage.

Equity is the hallmark of a just and developed society. Citizens must demand their fair share of resources. To give good meaning to Madaraka Day and any other national day celebrations, every citizen must have a reason to be a proud Kenyan. I feel the pain of the Mau Mau fighters who gave their time and energy to fight for the departure of the white man and ended up with no formal education, only to be disregarded by the very people they laid their lives down for. I feel the agony of those who sacrificed their political ambitions for a peaceful Kenya only to have their innocence plagiarised.

No one should struggle to put food on the table while another plunders public funds to the tune of billions of shillings. Our country will only grow when the problem of poverty-stricken individuals is resolved. To achieve this, the black man must painfully but intentionally scrub his mind with a pumice stone. Anything short of this is a grand delusion.

The writer is a medical doctor

Email: qoluoch98@yahoo.com

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