September 20th 2017

Opinion / Commentaries

Sonko-type leaders emerge because Kenyans who want change don't step up for it

You are waiting for Kenyans to behave well, who will organize and civic educate them to know and defend values if not the government? Who ensures that the reward system rewards those who uphold the values and punish those who undermine the code of conduct? It is government.

By Cyprian NyamwamuMonday, 10 Apr 2017 11:06 EAT

Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko, a bad example to the youth.

Before I delve into the subject of this article, let me declare my position. I am a Kenyan who has never never bribed or taken a bribe since I was born. A number of my friends have given a bribe or involved in dubious deals. I swore that I will never never give a bribe and I want my children, nephews, nieces and the young people I am mentoring to turn out well and follow my example.

To the matter on my mind: What is Kenya's source of stagnation... is it Kenyan citizens with bad manners who elect bad and incompetent leaders or is it the failed leadership that has failed to provide a vision and direction for citizens and to inspire a system of reward that will model good and ethical behaviour by citizens in and out of government?

Veteran politician Martha Karua, among many other leaders, argues that it is the citizens and their mindsets who are the problem. I agree. But how did Kenyans realize that behaving badly pays, that it is the way to survive in Kenya? Blaming citizens for Kenya's traffic jams, corruption, bad leadership is aimed at excusing corrupt and failed leadership. That is the lazy way out. In the end no one takes responsibility for our future when you say it is our collective responsibility.

No nation has citizens who are so angelic, holy, organized that they will regulate their behaviour. It is the system that informs behaviour. 
How has Rwanda changed to become a best case to learn from? Is it not Kagame's leadership? How did Tanzania achieve a high level of cohesion and civility? Was it not the leadership of Mwalimu Nyerere? How did America plunge into debt and economic crisis after inheriting a successful economic foundation from President Bill Clinton? Was it not the failed leadership of Mr. G.W. Bush? 

It is clear that culture is a product of elite and ruling classes initiative. You are waiting for Kenyans to behave well, who will organize and civic educate them to know and defend values if not the government? Who ensures that the reward system rewards those who uphold the values and punish those who undermine the code of conduct? It is government.

This is a sociological fact. The elite and ruling classes influence system wide behaviour. If the wealthy and powerful in this nation got their wealth from corruption, the youth will not innovate but also get into government corruption to do tenders etc... if a nation gets leaders who do not model opulence and theft as the way to success, that nation's population works hard and honestly to grow. 

Right now, most youths love Nairobi senator Mike Sonko and they are going to vote in only Sonko types. That is their understanding of success and accessing good life. How do you expect such youths to behave well and uphold the rule of law, traffic rules and civility on the roads when the people who get rewarded are the ones who undermine the rules of engagement?

A small group of Kenyans will have to come pamoja, put the revolutionary leadership in place to organize citizens and direct government to build a new society- the Kenya we want!

The writer is a good governance campaigner and CEO, Future of Kenya Foundation





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