Last night the 18th of December Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central had the pleasure of hosting Peter Kenneth as the speaker for the evening. He was supposed to have been the speaker 2 weeks ago but unfortunately he was unable to make that meeting. I wrote a post about the fact that he had disappointed Rotaractors and guests by not attending.
Last night Peter Kenneth started by first apologizing for not making it to that meeting. That evening there was a meeting by the Jubilee coalition after the signing of a pact between politicians at the Laico Hotel. Peter Kenneth saw that this would not have been a great time to appear at the Laico Hotel so he sent his apologies. Afterwards there was a lot of heat towards him on social media by Rotaractors, friends of Rotaract and yours truly. P.K. said he would make it up. Many were skeptical about it, knowing politicians. Anyway he made it up. It takes a great man to apologize for not being able to keep a promise, and an even greater on to make up for it. Peter Kenneth did both, thereby showing what kind of a man he is, and the value that he puts on his word.
Peter Kenneth started his talk by giving out statistics on the number of youth in the country and the rate of unemployment. The point being that the youth are the most in the country and they are also the ones mainly affected by unemployment. This is a very worrying trend. He mentioned a book that he is reading called Africa’s third liberation by Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst. The first liberation was from the colonial powers and racist regimes, the second from the autocrats that often followed foreign rule. African now has the potential for a third liberation – from political economies characterized by graft, crony capitalism, elitism, and social inequality. (gotten from Penguin books South Africa website for the book Africa’s third Liberation.)
Peter Kenneth talked about the things he is getting from his interaction with the book. The third liberation must be about the economy and creation of opportunity. He said Kenyans and Kenyan youth should not be comfortable in our own position. He gave the example of Zimbabwe and of Tunisia. He has visited Tunis this year and there was tension in the air.
Peter Kenneth said that we must define leadership. He gave the example of Rotaract being a service club. In order to move around we must be able to be assured of security. We must therefore have passion about security issues. We should not blame the government if there is insecurity, we should blame ourselves for putting in a government that does not consider security issues as important. He gave an example of the city council and the fighting that goes on there. We watch them on TV fighting and we laugh, asking what is going on with the council but we are the ones who put those councillors there. In the last election he said we were worried about whom we would choose as president and as members of Parliament, but did we care who we elected as councilor or we just ticked the person who was our parties’ representative without knowing who they were, and their agenda. Nairobi produces 60% of the country’s GDP yet we don’t care who runs this city and we don’t think who we give the posts of taking care of Nairobi.
Peter Kenneth talked abit about his past. Being brought up by a single mother and growing up in Eastleigh. He talked about going to Starehe Boys Centre and using a timetable to get the bus. He said that growing up the police post had 20 police cars and no one had to worry about security. Now that police post has only 2 cars, one for the OCS and another for patrol. We don’t put enough emphasis on security is his argument.
P. K talked about infrastructure. About the hours we lose in traffic jams. He asked how we can build an economy when it takes 2 hours 30 mins to get from JKIA to town during peak hours and that’s the same amount of time it takes to get from Lusaka to Nairobi by plane, actually it takes 2 hours 15 mins by plane.
P.K. talked about some of the issues that we should be keen about. The fact that there is not enough water for the whole population plus irrigation, healthcare services are broken. When he was growing up P. K and everybody went to city council dispensaries then health centers if things were serious. Kenyatta hospital was a referral hospital only and people only went there for really serious issues. He also talked about the primary education that is being offered now, saying that it is quantity over quality. He asked where the youth who don’t make it to university will go when polytechnics have been killed off.
P.K. also gave insights into our economic growth rate. It is at 4.3% which is low; we need to grow at a rate of at least 10% in order to achieve vision 2030. If we don’t grow economy we will not feel the impact of the plans that we have made. It is important to grow the agricultural sector, for farmers to make profits, and make people want to go back to farming. This will ensure that there is self employment and also food security which is also important. He also talked about our tourism sector which is struggling with lack of infrastructure and security issues. He said that Kenya is the most beautiful country in the world and that we have everything but lose out because of policy and leadership.
P. K. said that as a parent and like most parents he is trying hard to give his children the opportunities he never had. But the question he and others are asking “why work so hard, what country will the children live in? ” are there opportunities for the youth after parents sacrificing so much to educate their children, is what I think is the question.
On a sad note P. K talked about the young female lawyer killed after being given a lift. She was from his constituency and she was in the prime of her life. He talked about the murder of the 3 young ladies and talked about how security is lacking. That some young men would do something like that is very shocking and to find out that they are students at USIU is even more shocking.
P. K talked about the youth being the determinants of the next election. 1. Because we are the majority. 2. Because we are not tribalists, especially for those who grew up in Nairobi, we did not grow up in tribal cocoons. Tribalism never developed a state, or developed a nation, it divides us only. P.K. said that we should be deliberate in defining a government that will work for us. If we do not speak we will use another 5 years to get things right. We should speak out. We are the voters. P.K. says that in the last four years we have gotten into debt to the tune of 1.7 trillion which we will have to pay for and our kids also. Where has this money gone? Apparently we are the country with the 2nd highest debt (borrower) in the world. Greece in number one. Things to thing about and worry about also.
Peter Kenneth answered questions by rotaractors.
P.K. said this about elections “let elections not be about individuals but about issues. It’s about your issues, your future, and your children’s future. This election is not about Peter Kenneth. It’s about leadership and the role of leadership in defining Kenya’s future” he said if we make the wrong decisions let’s meet at the jam.
P.K. is passionate about security. His take is that insecurity is caused mainly caused by unemployment. We need to deal with this issue. Otherwise other sectors like tourism cannot grow and investors will also be weary of putting money here.
P. K on gender representation he said he had just come back from UK so he needs to study what has being going on. He said he believes that the constitution should be implemented to the letter but also that he thinks it requires reform on a continuous basis.
P.K. said that Kenya needs financial discipline. We have refused to take control of our spending. Foreign policy should be attached to trade and bilateral agreements not personal friendships but benefits to the country. We need to work on our security and infrastructure. This is very important.
P. K asked rotaractors to look at timelines for his agenda. Look at the statements and ask if they are being truthful. Will they work? He says that we should look at each leader’s development record in the constituency. If they can’t work in the constituency, they can’t work for the country. He said that the Ministry of Planning has the best plans and best minds. But that treasury does not align money with those plans. Financial discipline is key.
P.K. talked about the issue that is on everybody’s mind. That P.K. is the right candidate but not popular. He said we box ourselves into choices. That there are only 2 horses but when race is over where will we be. He says we should throw away the box, free our minds and think outside it. We shouldn’t box ourselves in. he talked graciously about Martha Karua and Ole Kiapi. He said we make the horses popular. Mass hysteria has never done anything for us. Change starts with you and me.
We had a great discussion. I asked Peter Kenneth a question about why we should join a political party and he said it should be out of ideologies. Parties make us come away from the idea of individuals. It’s about ideologies. Not about personalities or creating cults around a person. We should join parties whose ideologies we share and that we believe will create impact in the society.
In his closing statements Peter Kenneth apologized again for missing the last meeting to those who had come in late. He said he believes in honoring his promises. He said he lives by the motto “if you don’t lie, you don’t have to fill up your brain to remember what you lied.”
Peter Kenneth said at the end “don’t look for somebody out there to define and determine where country will be. Its not about individuals, it’s about all of us.” There is a scout motto that he loves “leave the campsite better then you found it” he says “leave the country better then you found it.”