Kenya: Q&a With President Kenyatta As Jubilee Marks 4th Anniversary
April 11, 2017
By Capital FM, Nairobi — PRESIDENT KENYATTA: I am very proud to showcase some of the work that my government has done in the first four years of my term. As your President, it is my primary duty to provide the environment necessary for each one of you to fulfill your full potential, and to improve your own livelihood, as well as that of your community, and that of our nation.
Together, we have achieved much that will benefit many, and in a very short time.
QUESTION: What was your vision going into 2013 elections? What did you want to achieve for the country?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: To understand where you are, and to understand where you are going, you must know where you’ve come from; then you are able to better visualize where you want to be. And I think we’ve come a long way.
Our forefathers came together with the singular aim of having a free, socially inclusive society where our people could govern themselves, and make a future for themselves. They achieved our independence for us. Once we got that independence, somehow we did not internalize that independence as a Kenyan independence; we internalised it as an ethnic independence. So we started to say ‘what about the prosperity of my community?’, ‘what about the jobs of my community?’ We lost the nationalist spirit that actually won us that independence — independence was not won by any singular community, it was won by people coming together and saying we want to govern ourselves; we want a future for ourselves. I believe that the politics that took place after the first 10 or so years of our independence resulted in a situation where, rather than co-exist as Kenyans, we co-existed as ethnic communities. We saw the worst of that in 2007/2008. It is an episode of our national history that is still fresh in our minds.
As a result of that, some of us who were accused of fanning that incitement felt very, very, very strongly, and thought very deeply. We asked: ‘how could our country — that we all love so much, and that we all wanted so much for — end up in this particular situation?’ Then, working with other individuals, we agreed: ‘look, it is time for us to change the Kenyan narrative’.
QUESTION: So, what was your resolve?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Our rallying call in 2013, as many in Kenya will remember, was the fact that regardless of whether we won or lost, we would ensure that we had a country that would not end up in the kind of chaos that we saw in 2007/08, and that no Kenyan would lose their life for who they were. We wanted a country that celebrates our diversity and that works together with the understanding that the issues that confront us don’t confront us because of our ethnicity, but are common to all of us as Kenyans. The only way to solve them is to solve them together. And that was basically the platform on which we launched our campaign in 2013. And, thank God, Kenyans gave us an opportunity to lead this country.
For the 4 years that we have led this nation, we have focused on answering a single question: how do we coalesce this society of 43 communities into one society? We recognised that our new constitution gave us an opportunity to achieve this, through the devolved governments. We made them work, and we were able to reach out and get development into every corner of this country. We ensured that our government was as inclusive as the constitution allowed us to be, because it was the first time, for example, that we were limited in the number of Cabinet Secretaries we could appoint. I also think it gave us the opportunity to pick the best that we could from our country, because so long as you are limited, you have to pick the best. As the national government, our key priority then became, first and foremost, to ensure that in the shortest possible time we got devolution to work so that every single Kenyan, irrespective of what part of the country they came from, could feel the benefits of being a Kenyan.
We also focused on education, recognising that as long as every single Kenyan is able to get proper education, we are beginning to equalise our society.
Many areas got — for the first time — decent infrastructure that could attract industries. (And we have to attract investment outside the main cities: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret)
We went on a massive programme of building roads, electricity expansion, trying to increase dams in order to get water access, so that a person living in Wajir would have the same benefits as a person living in Nairobi; so that an industry would be attracted to Garissa — because now you are connected to the main grid — just as it would be attracted to Mombasa. We recognised that if we focused ourselves on these, it would ultimately give us an opportunity to achieve what every single Kenyan needed: opportunity.
We are not there yet, but we have started that journey. We have started the process. I believe strongly that if we are allowed to continue with the kind of development we have made so far, then, in a very few years to come, we will have a singular society that looks at issues differently: not from where we come from, but from whom we are as Kenyans.
We will begin to deal with the challenges that face every single Kenyan, the challenges of health, the challenges of education, the challenges of job creation; and once we do that, we then can see ourselves as Kenyans. And once we see ourselves as Kenyans, because we have a government that is dealing with us as Kenyans, we will look to a future where we work together for mutual prosperity and for mutual happiness.
QUESTION: Are you making progress?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Well, you also ask yourself where and how you want to get to where you are going. I keep on telling Kenyans: let us have patience; let us focus ourselves on doing things that ought to be done, because if things had been done in years past, we wouldn’t be complaining today.
QUESTION: Some have chided you as a tourist President. How have Kenyans benefitted from your travels beyond our borders?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Countries are like people: you cannot make progress on your own. Kenya must work in very close corroboration and cohesion with its neighbours and others in the international community. That is why we have made foreign policy central to our agenda.
We need to ensure that we are on good terms, and have great trading partnerships, with others. We would not attract the kind of investment that we are attracting if we were only talking to 42 million people; we need to be able to talk of a region of 300 or 400 million, because it is that economy of scale that will allow us to attract the kind of investment that we need, in order to create the jobs that our people need. So long as you continue to think inward, you will only slow your quest to achieve your objectives. And that is why my administration has been very keen to improve linkages between Kenya and other nations. Within our region we have been very focused on trying to deepen integration. We have worked very hard, and now we have a single network area for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and we are trying to bring on board Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan. We now have a single tourist visa, so that visitors coming to Kenya can use the same visa to go to Uganda and Rwanda.
Nkemnji Global Tech
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