So. As it stands it seems most of the country does not want to go to NASA’s Canaan. At least more than 8 million of them. On the other hand, another 6 million probably want to. So what to do? As we await SCOK’s decision on the presidential elections outcome, let’s ponder a few questions. How does the country move forward in a way that ensures everybody is happy especially after Kisumu, Mathare and Kibera experienced post election violence meted out by state operatives in the form of quelling ‘looting’ and other ‘criminal’ activities ensuing after Ouru and SuperPanga were declared duly re-elected by Chivuitu and Shakhalaga? How does Joshua save face and face Canaanites? How does he prepare for his exit from Kenya’s political stage? How does his constituency prepare for a post-Odinga dispensation?
Lets close our eyes for a minute and savour Canaan in our mouths like a good wine. What is Canaan? What does it mean to be in Canaan? What is in Canaan? What is this proverbial milk and honey deciphered in our present? I am imagining it could be accountable leadership, active citizenry, decent housing, decent wages, good and affordable healthcare and education, clean water, adequate security and food security, proper living standards, a good road and railway network, a clean and healthy environment, a functioning public transport system, recreational parks and the odd city cycling circuits. You know, the kind of stuff that only a very privileged few enjoy. This is what Canaan would taste like to me before I opened my eyes.
Now it may sound crazy that a majority of Kenyans would not want that, for whatever reason. So, for those that would want such a thing as Canaan, how would they still attain it? Well, thank goodness for devolution.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you Canaan. Which I stumbled upon quite by accident as I was researching Siaya and Kisumu counties’ contribution to Kenya’s GDP. As contained in this report done with the support of the good fellows over Deloitte and Ford Foundation and with the participation of the Council of Governors secretariat (I think). Aptly named The Lake Region Economic Blueprint: A Better Life. Per it, this Economic Blueprint “is designed to guide development efforts by leveraging existing assets, addressing constraints and defining key steps that leaders and 10 million citizens of the region can take to transform the shared vision of prosperity into reality.” The counties that constitute the Lake Region in this blueprint are Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya and Vihiga. This means these counties must invest in establishing a climate that promotes good governance, public participation, business and investment, housing and healthcare. This can be done through bilateral investment partnerships with other corporations, cities, counties and countries (there is still a lot of debate about the impact of such partnerships on development). But more importantly, through multi-lateral partnerships with other like-minded counties which share common geographical, socio-economic and even cultural assets and aspirations. In other words, each other. It is said Kericho, Bomet and Trans Nzoia wouldn’t mind being part of it, but given the recent elections shenanigans, I doubt there will be political will.
I imagine Joshua can still make a Canaan out of the region. First, I want to say it’s a good thing Nyong’o is Kisumu Governor despite the questionable primaries. Ranguma was largely ineffectual and superficial. I mean, what was up with that etiquette and fine dining thing costing hundreds of millions? I have gone on record and said severally that Rasanga, the Siaya county boss is easily the silliest public service official alive, and so might be a threat to this grandiose Canaan makeover. So even before this makeover begins, a couple of things must happen. Firstly and most importantly, Joshua should step away from the national stage and focus on this new Canaan (assuming SCOK rules in Ouru’s favor). He must realize that he has severally led the cow to the river and the cow has simply refused to quench its thirst. Secondly, Rasanga must stop being silly and realize the stakes are high and people no longer want to spend 58 million bob to celebrate Obama’s homecoming. And no more carcinogenic wheelbarrows. And website commissioning. Thirdly, the counties’ legislative agenda must reflect this new reality – meaning MCAs no longer have to prioritize gawking at oranges growing in the Israeli desert or waste recycling technology in Berlin.
Joshua should bring his political influence to bear on the lake region county governments and work with them to attract the best talent, develop strategies that dovetail into the Vision 2030 agenda as well as the Lake Region Economic Blueprint. We must embrace the CBA between KMPDU and make it the cornerstone of revamping healthcare provision in the lake region. Joshua should apply his standing to leverage investment from Africa and beyond, to build low income housing and investment in tourism infrastructure. We have an opportunity to look at youth development, agriculture, fishing, sports and tourism anew, from the perspective of countless opportunities presented by this blueprint.
And once this hard work is done, 15 years from now, when the rest of Kenya is still straddled with corruption and lethargy, electing thieves of public resources into public office; when women are still dying of childbirth and babies die blue because there is no oxygen in government hospital theatres and ‘mobile’ ‘clinics’ still lie moribund in Government yards; when the mighty and wealthy still have their brand of justice different from Wanjiku’s; when government sports officials still travel first class with harems to international events and our hero athletes beg and scrape for air fare and a decent hotel room; when the price of a liter of milk is that of oil, and a kilo of sugar that of ivory; when the government says maize from Kenyan farmers is too expensive and buys the Mexicans’ and South Africans’ at triple cost; when citizens rights are still being trampled on at will, their police guns and truncheons set on them, ferociously doing its master’s bidding, Kenyans will look yonder and see Canaan.
But, does Joshua see it too?