‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’ Matthew 5:8
An online dictionary describes ‘conciliatory’ as ‘acting in a placating manner to bring about agreement, restore trust and goodwill, or settle someone’s anger.’
Over the last 50 years, the process of forging a diverse group of ethnic groups into a unified nation has had mixed success. On one hand are those things that beautifully embody the Kenyan spirit – our indomitable athletes bring home the medals, our hard-working character, our ability to adapt to tough times, and our friendly ‘hakuna matata’ hospitality. On the hand other though have been the deep mistrusts and divisions driven between different ethnic groups, mainly because of our cut-throat, win-by-any-means-necessary political class and actual and perceived bias in investment by those who hold political office. As a result, 50 years on, Kenyans are much more divided ethnically today than ever before in our history.
A conciliatory leader is a bridge-builder. Like a football coach, their job is to mold the various talents/strengths of the individual players into something far greater – the synergy that comes when each unit contributes their unique strengths for the betterment of the whole. Individual talent alone does not great teams make. Great coaches nature a concern in each team member for the rest of the team so that if one succeeds, we all succeed.
They actively reject the tag of ethnic-leader, even when it’s to their political gain. They refuse to form alliances for the sake of tribal arithmetic, even if it’s the obvious way to power. They refuse to sign secret MOUs with powerful lobby groups in return for votes.They refuse to be seen as the leader of one tribe but actively promote the whole nation. They know that being a tribal kingpin only wins the battle but loses the war. Together we stand – divided we fall.
A conciliatory leader will build diverse teams at all levels not for political grandstanding but for the cause of inclusivity and culture building. People of all ethnicities, genders, and religious backgrounds must believe they have an important role to play in helping this nation succeed. A conciliatory leader will interact with great and small alike. They will inspire hope that we as a nation can be great and succeed. Yes we can!
Make no mistake about it, we stand at a crossroads. Our incoming leadership can either help us forge a powerful nation or doom us to remain a loosely connected group of internally-competing tribal entities who will never amount to much. We must elect a leader and leaders that will help us value the differences that each ethnicity, gender, racial and religious grouping adds to our great nation. We must aim for a time when no Kenyan will ever reasonably claim that their region is not a legitimate part of this great nation.
The reality is… no leader is perfect. They all have issues. But the question is, which of the leaders you plan to vote for – as president, governor, senator and representative best embodies a conciliatory leader?
Please share any other thoughts you have on what a conciliatory leader for Kenya should look like!