Okay, be warned, today’s post is rather long 🙂
King Darius had appointed Daniel on merit (Daniel 6). He quickly became fond of him because of his excellence and integrity and realized the great value that Daniel added to his administration. But then he naively signed an iron-clad law in place and only too late realized it was a plot to destroy his valuable team member. A chain of events had been launched, and he could only stand by and watch helplessly as they unfolded.
The constitution of the Medes and Persians stated that once a king made a law, it could not be repealed. Not even if it was a bad law. The act that set our constitution making framework in place was set up in a similar way. The noble idea here was to protect it from being hijacked by selfish interests. But it also meant there was little flexibility to adapt it to any contingencies. Partly as a result, our nation is fast heading towards a very unique showdown. Unique because it seeks to entrench a unifying constitution by pitting large sections of Kenyans against each other. Unique because it seeks to entrench a democratic constitution in place using means that are slightly less than democratic (the body that drafted the document and the state itself campaigning for its adoption means that the ref is playing for one side). Unique because it’s so similar to the zero-sum process of our historic orange-banana debacle – the more things change, the more they remain the same!
I believe our situation could have been resolved through decisive leadership. Our ‘principles’ missed a great moment to build consensus with church leaders, not realizing that dialogue and consensus building does not mean appeasement. I sometimes wonder whether there was mischief at play; anti-reform forces that realized the best chance at getting the document rejected was to pit the government and the church against each other. Of course conventional wisdom says it’s now too late. Let’s cross our fingers and let the chips fall where they must.
I disagree. It’s never too late. To greatly paraphrase the good book, we were not made for the law but the law for us. We don’t have to buy into the lie that confrontative politics is a necessary by-product of democracy. A great constitution with a divided nation would mean we failed. So would a unified nation with a bad constitution. Even now, our national leaders have an opportunity to seek dialogue, build consensus, show compassion, avoid petty politics, play the role of statesmen, and unify our nation. Not an easy task by any means. But hey, if it’s easy you’re looking for, leadership is not for you!
Our role as citizenry? Firstly, we must refuse to be divided by our leaders. Though other Kenyans may see the issues differently from us, in the end, we’re all Kenyans, regardless of our ethnic, religious or other differences. We must have conversations that dignify the opposing position, even if we believe ours is the best way to go. Secondly, we must continually recognize the great weight of leadership our national leaders carry and the many challenges they face and commit to regularly pray for them. 1 Timothy 2:1 says ‘I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone… for all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’
And lastly for those of us who supervise others in the marketplace, we must ensure that the structures and systems we set up do not stifle those below us. That getting the job done, following policies and procedures doesn’t take precedence over the human concerns of the people working for us.
Lord, please help me to be a bridge-builder with others who think differently from myself on issues. Remind me to pray for our national leaders often. And help me set up systems that build up the people who work under me. AMEN