Whereas the US has channeled its energies towards the devastating effects of Katrina, Kenya on the other hand sees nothing else but the banana or orange in the forthcoming constitution referendum scheduled for 21st November 2005. While some countries have taken advantage of sending all forms of humanitarian support to the victims of Katrina in the US with business strategies in mind as part of advertising their products, none of Kenya’s managers has come to the fore to market the countries products such as tea and coffee among other locally produced goods. We are not in essence saying thank you to this natural disaster but the message to Kenya is that we have learnt to lose many trade opportunities while engaging in affairs that do not for sure add value to our economy in relation to others.
It is obvious that Kenyans need a constitution because the current one having been tested for over four decades has had many weaknesses. Furthermore a lot of energy has been spent for more than one decade over the need for a new constitution. As the debate on the constitutional referendum continues it would be wise for Kenyans and ask themselves; of whose interest is the constitution – the haves or the have-nots? As we get divided over the banana (yes vote) and the orange (no vote), we must ask ourselves what value the constitution will add to the population that still struggles with food shortage, poverty, disease and insecurity among others. If Kenyans were given a chance to vote between the constitution and wealth creation I am sure that they would go for wealth because they have suffered under poverty while a few individuals now pushing for or against still dine and wine while pretending to be advocates of the poor. Whether the banana or orange, the end result is that the rich- elite stand to benefit because all they are up to is to squarely protect their wealth and power. After all a banana and an orange are edible fruits implying that whatever choice, the rich but not the poor shall benefit. They enjoyed hefty allowances at Bomas and they still pocket huge allowances in seminars and workshops in the name of constitutional making while the majority still languishes in poverty. All this at the expense of development!
The proposed constitution has 21 chapters and Kenyans will only have to choose between a banana and an orange. Why not a chapter-by-chapter or article-by-article if not clause-by-clause vote? Those advocating for a banana argue that this version is better than the current one and the Bomas draft. Those choosing to eat the orange are convincing the masses that the proposed draft gives the president a lot of power. Others suggest that Kenyans should read the proposed draft and make a decision. Without taking sides it is important for our leaders to tell Kenyans how the constitution correlates to wealth creation because at the moment the masses are merely subjects of manipulation. Until recently most of the Kenyans, even the educated ones, did not know what a constitution looks like. People have been carrying out their businesses without recognizing its existence. What most of Kenyans actually require are genuine leaders who should indeed put effort on promoting wealth and not mere rhetoric in the name of the constitution. If our leaders are genuine enough why haven’t they produced equivalent copies of the current constitution, and Bomas drafts so that after reading the three copies we are able to say yes or no from an informed perspective. It beats all logic to say yes or no to a document purported to be good without prior knowledge of the bad ones.
In essence, Kenyans must wake up and put their priority right. From the emerging scenario one would think that Kenya is in a constitutional crisis while in the real sense we are in poverty crisis. Food shortage, unemployment and disease continue to take toll of majority of Kenyans. Insecurity still continues to kill entrepreneurship as gangsters continue to take charge not only of towns but villages too. The police have also become endangered species because whenever the gangsters encounter them they are gunned down. It takes pain and aggression for one to invest but the gangsters take it all and even kill in a few minutes. Crime scares local and foreign investors. Generally, Kenya continues to be among the least developed countries. Kenya should strive to create wealth for her people by mobilizing local, regional and international resources.
Kenya should be strategizing to shift from a third world to a first world by putting favorable structures in place. People cannot eat the constitution but by mobilizing the masses to engage in wealth creation, the country would be building permanent structures that could be aped by the rest of Africa. Imagine a banana or an orange constitution in the midst of poverty, insecurity, joblessness. Let’s keep our priorities right, now and in future, by holding a referendum focusing on making Kenyan’s wealthy! This I believe will receive many bananas in the ballot box.