Young people propose a national vision
The proposal for a national vision is the result of the National Vision Building project undertaken by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) last year. This brought together a team of young Kenyans keen on discussing and creating the desired future for Kenya. Among those in the team were Michael Kamau, Janet Kiarie, John Ochola, Chris odongo, Radha Upadhyaya, Kwame Owino and Maureen Were.
The proposal, launched last month at Nairobi's Safari Park Hotel, has been shared with more than 30 groups of young Kenyans, who gave it widespread endorsement. Titled "Vision 2027: The promise of our generation", the proposal creates a shared picture of the desired future of Kenya and outlines features of the Kenya young people would like to see in the year 2027.
The proposal comes against a background of criticism levelled against the NARC government for appointing retired individuals to key public positions. Speaking during the launch, leader of official opposition Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed president Mwai Kibaki's recent appointments in parastatals as "lacking fresh air and blood". Said he: "By recycling old politicians and retirees in his March 25 appointments, the president fell below the expectation of Kenyans".
The proposal also communicates the aspirations of Kenya's youth. It outlines the country they wish to live in and the society in which they wish to raise their families as well as aspirations regarding work and life. The proposal for a national vision looks at Kenya in 2027, the reason for choosing 2027 being that the average age of the team that prepared the vision is 27. Hence, today's 27-year olds are painting a picture of the Kenya they want for Kenyans of a similar age in 2027.
Whereas the team has lined up a set of ambitious goals for the transformation of society towards shared prosperity in 2027, it acknowledges that the goals will not be met without concrete strategies that spell out the direction of actions and policies of different actors.
The vision seeks to respond to the current challenges facing the country. Among the challenges identified is that of building a united Kenya with a sense of common destiny based on shared national values. The proposal laments that at independence, Kenyans were united even with no prior history of nationhood. Yet at the beginning of the 21st century, though Kenyans were united in their geographic territory, family, clan, tribe and race contributed to a number of divisions.
Another challenge is that of ensuring the supremacy of the constitution. The proposal notes that Kenya gained independence with a constitution that sought to separate power between the centre and regions and among the different arms of government. However, it observes that over the years, the constitution was watered down through various amendments that centralized power, reduced choice and weakened other institutions.
The proposal has also identified the challenge of establishing a mature, pluralist and tolerant society that takes pride in and draws strength from its diversity. It observes that Kenya's diversity has been the source of tensions, misunderstanding and strife in the past. Consequently, one of the challenges the nation faces is that of building a society that tolerates the diversity of Kenya and allows for the expression of different views ands voices in the country.
One of the fundamental duties of any state is the provision of security for all its citizens and their property as well as for those within its boundaries. For this reason, the proposal acknowledges the need to meet the challenge of creating a safe and secure society for prosperity and higher living standards for all.
Also identified is the challenge of working towards an economically just society. The proposal takes serious note of disparities in income and the attendant poverty that threaten Kenya's nascent democracy. It observes that Kenya shall not make meaningful progress as a nation without confronting the inequality between different income groups and regions.
The challenge of developing a healthy populace and an educated citizenry cannot escape attention. The proposal, while observing that Kenya made great strides in heath care provision in the first decades after independence, sadly notes that Kenyans still die of easily preventable diseases like Malaria, Diarrhoea and Tuberculosis, not to mention the dilemma created by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In terms of education, the proposal notes that many Kenyan children still do not enroll in primary school and fewer continue to higher levels.
Taking cognisance of the above challenges, Kenya's youth as a group that comprises majority of the population (65 per cent), and as an alternative leadership have come up with a proposal for a vision that confronts the above challenges. Among other things, the vision envisages Kenya in 2027 as a united nation with a sense of common purpose and destiny. It envisages a situation where Kenyans consider this unity paramount and is preserved by the constitution and the country's leadership and citizenry alike.
It also envisages in 2027 Kenya as a mature, free and tolerant society, where the diverse people, cultures, traditions and life styles all co-exist side by side. It envisages different ethnic groups living in harmony and in cohesion with a spirit of mutual understanding and respect.
The youth would also like to see Kenya as a just, democratic and accountable nation deriving its legitimacy from the people. They envisage an integral part of democracy as the open, free and fair competition for office at every level at regular intervals. They aspire to ensure that holders of public office are accountable and citizen groups and other institutions maintain vigilance.
The vision sees Kenya in 2027 as a safe, secure and caring nation, where all human life is protected, with professional and disciplined security services. It envisages an elimination of the violation of physical well-being and abuse of human rights, as well as domestic violence and child abuse.
By 2027, the vision wishes to see Kenyans as healthy and educated people that apply their skills in industry and the service sector. It envisages a system of education that is able to adapt to the needs of the country and to global changes. It wishes to see all Kenyans attain universal primary and secondary education with options for diversification to vocational and technical training. It also wishes to see all Kenyans having access to good quality health facilities for both preventive and curative services.
The vision also sees Kenya in 2027 as an economically just society with more equitable distribution of the outcomes of social investment through participation and empowerment. Optimal land use and equitable land distribution shall have been put in place.
In summary, according to the vision, in 2027, Kenya is a united nation with a confident and proud educated healthy people infused with strong ethical values, living in democratic, tolerant, caring and economically just society with a progressive, prosperous, competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient economy, managing resources for the benefit of present and future generations of Kenya.