Take it up a notch ..By Tazim Elkington This is my 1st opportunity in writing for the Awaaz Magazine.

As I sit here pondering what to write, my mind brings up the question again and again on What comprises being Kenyan? This question has been swimming in pools of many waters. The need for clarity and direction is imperative as we embark on this journey towards a more uplifted Kenya for Kenyans. Let s carry on the discussion from the Samosa Festival in defining a common platform where we operate from as Kenyans. There are constant, consistent ongoing debates on how individuals ought to do this, that and the other. How and what the politicians, religious leaders, the donor world, civil society, private entrepreneurs, legal firms, grassroots organisations and umpteen groups, need to do it differently. What we do not have is common direction, with some basic effective foundational parameters to create a flow. The new constitution is the fertile seed that will provide us with a strong new tree of life for Kenyans from all walks of life. As the referendum took place and more voted YES we achieved a landmark in our history. With peace and tranquility, we as a people, walked the same queues and made our choice. Now we need to create spaces that will provide us with guidelines on being an effective and participatory Kenyan first, in the middle and at the end. We need to end the old siege of bombarding ourselves with an unending stream of reasons/excuses as to why it must be done one way and not another. The finger pointing blame game has passed its sell by date and it s now time to look for effective and efficient ways to become, feel and be truly KENYAN! A topic that invariably comes up at every 2nd conversation is what are the limitations that face us and why are we stuck in 19th century mode on various aspects. What do we need to do to propel us into the 21st century and get with the program? Before I get into what I see and feel, let me make my stance clear. There are many topics, aspects and discussions I get involved in that are taboo in many circles. Until we understand and realise that without conversations, communication and discussion nothing changes, we will not change that which limits us. There are 2 sides to every coin and in following belief systems, some are expansive and some extremely limiting. We have innumerable traditional, cultural, religious, status, class, social, tribal, gender equality, community and family belief systems. This can cause much confusion if we stick to a belief that was necessary 100 years ago and out of date today as an example. Because something has been done for 2 or 3 generations does not make it automatically right. What may have worked and the reasons why are based on a different way of life many moons ago. It is not only important but necessary that we question where a lot of our beliefs come from. Many are based on oppression due to the colonised mind that created us, people of colour, as the secondary or insignificant human ready to salute to superiority. Many beliefs are based on people living in small, tight communities as the population was sparse. People had to create these close-knit circles for survival and keeping the wealth amongst a people. Countless beliefs also came when orthodox religion was brought to us from different parts of the world. These religions took away our inherent belief in nature, in the rain, mountain, river, sun, moon gods and made us bow down to a MAN who runs a house of God . The umpteen mistranslations of the verse based on personal bias cannot be qualified or quantified. Some of

our beliefs come from those in authority that want to keep us locked into belief systems that provide them with the power of control over our lives. Two very destructive patterns that I have observed since my return home last year are: The Poverty mindset and the Culture of Silence. What does the poverty mindset create? More poverty, co-dependence, lack of self-responsibility and self-value. Waiting for someone else to change the circumstances and buying into unrealistic plots by unethical groups. How are the masses controlled? When the Authority keep them in those spaces and make them feel that they are very fortunate to receive microscopic handouts. It takes away the right of an individual when their life means nothing more than a bag of unga for the day. Apart from the small mindedness that is encouraged by the powerful Lords it brings a great sense of imbalance. This is followed by an emotion that is destructive and volatile. Anger and violence! What we have experienced in Kenya is not rocket science. It is a sequence of events that led from one point to another and then we feign shock when the writing has been on the wall for years. Kenyatta and Moi s regimes had set the grounds to crush any new seed from shooting out of the ground. I could go on however what matters to me are not Problems and issues its how and what the SOLUTIONS will be. Firstly, we need to change the people who are making decisions that are selfish. Secondly, we need people who genuinely care about their people to be in these positions. Thirdly, we need to position/implement short and long term strategies to turn this country around. Words are FREE so we keep hearing them over and over which are the empty promises that do not materialize. We need accountability and consequences to become part of the mandate of these people in power. How are we going to create jobs? Innovation, creating new industries, using human resources that are readily available to create new product and services. The old ways have to go for the new to bring in a different and creative way to get into the 21st century. Kenyans as a people are intelligent, innovative, worthy and smart. Our education systems need to incorporate teachings on self-reliance, responsibility, honesty and a set of solid values. Our systems do not encourage the telling of truths as we are constantly lied to this has now become an unacceptable norm. Co-dependence makes the rich- richer and the poor-poorer. We have to re-educate people to take responsibility of their lives. Not wait on the fence for some unseen deity to save them while they are being oppressed by a top-heavy small group of people. The blame game time is over and done with. Let s get REAL people! Moving on to the second syndrome of silence and unspoken truths or untruths. What is that about? If one tells the truth they are doomed and if they tell a lie they may get away for a bit but they are doomed anyways. So either way it is unacceptable. Therefore, people keep quiet and look as though Satan will banish them to the fires of hell if they dare say what they feel. It does not matter where or why this came to be. Whether the colonisation brought an inferiority complex that meant anything I said may most likely not be good enough. Or whether the colour of the skin defined intelligence? Or whether book education indicated how knowledge was the mistress of authority? Regardless of the reasons, what are the solutions? I am constantly challenging people to speak their truth. Not an easy task I assure you. In order to get people to speak the truth it is a re-education process. Again, values come into play and how these are instilled and lived. I have come across the biggest lies being told by the richest, socalled respected people in positions of power and authority. It is disgusting that people who run

corporations and manage hoards of people lie. That then becomes a culture and a way to live. There must be consequences for those who lie. It ties in again with accountability. How can we blame the youth when they are learning by example. Look at what we see on our TV s as soap operas? Lies - cheat on your spouse or significant other, money is God, drink alcohol uncontrollably, treat people who are poor with disdain and oppression and so on. Who is screening this stuff? Or is it to create an unhealthy addictive people who have no minds of their own? In conclusion, here is what I know. Until we start changing some of these so-called disruptive bad habits and patterns, until we take responsibility individually and collectively, become accountable, face consequences regardless of good-bad or ugly, replace those who have no values with those who do, we will keep chasing the same ghosts of the old constitution. To implement the new constitution we need to ward of some very old un-serving limitations that are not current. Time waits for no woman or man! Let us start by taking out the spokes in our personal wheels, start redefining and re-evaluating where we operate from individually and look at how best to create a NEW KENYA from ME to WE!!!