54 years after independence and Ukambani is still struggling with the same social, Political and economic problems it had since independence.
Leaders have come and remained in different perspectives, others have gone. And yet, with all this, nothing significant has changed. Where did we go wrong as a community? Is anything going to change anytime soon?
To answer my own question, I’ll start by quoting a common English phrase “You can’t keep on doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result”
Like many other communities in the country, we have more than anyone else embraced political dynasties. We have for a very long time believed in leadership by specific individuals with given status quo. Earlier, I’m quoted saying “Some leaders have come and remained”. Yes, we are fond of recycling leaders, we have entrusted specific persons with leadership, not because they are the best but because of what their Status in the society is or has been. With this, I mean economic political and social status.
One of the questions we ask before deciding on who our next leader would be, and especially in the case of fresh entrants into politics is: what family does he or she come from? What is his or her family known for? Rarely do we look at their potential, character, merit or ability to serve the people’s interests.
If you come from a well known political ‘dynasty’, then obviously you have an upper hand in becoming the next political leader. We sometimes if not all the times vote in leaders based on their political and economic dominance. Sad.
We have either recycled the same leaders over time or at least picked a member from their family to replace them.
Does this change anything? You’ll bare me witness that ideas are overcome by time and circumstances. We are living in a dynamic world. Re-electing the same person over and over brings nothing new on the table. As long as positive and progressive change is what we want in ukambani, then we should just accept the fact that recycling leaders and embracing political dynasties isn’t going to bring forth the change we yearn for and or progression in our community.
Food insecurity, Lack of water, absence of sustainable health care and Education.
The above are the four major challenges facing Ukambani. In the history of Ukambani, no single political leader has ever remarkably addressed the four challenges. Though they all have had the chance to, they elected to concentrate on areas that don’t necessarily matter to the Ukambani people and their well-being.
Save for education, water, food insecurity and health care are the most notorious challenges that every other resident of Ukambani has to face. Since the introduction of the government’s CDF over a decade ago, political leaders have at least used this kitty in provision of semi quality education in some parts. They haven’t done enough though because still the education sector in Ukambani is wanting. But not as bad as it is in the other three sectors.
UKAMBANI SOLUTION LIES IN UKAMBANI
Every community is different from the other. While kenyan communities have some common challenges, the approach is and should be different for every single community. As a leader, you can’t employ an approach on food security for Ukambani from say the Rift valley.
Ukambani is located accross the semi arid Kenya, a drought struck area. However, this does not mean food security should be a challenge. But as we speak, it is.
Because leaders have with time brought solutions borrowed from communities that have nothing in common with ukambani in terms of handling the food insecurity menace.
For example, when a leader borrows an approach from say Rift valley to fight food insecurity in Ukambani, then honestly how do you expect it to work? While Ukambani knows only draught and less rains, the rift valley knows persistent rains throughout the year.
Our lazy leaders refuse to use the resources they have to do a proper feasibility study on a given area, they just act without caution and thought for the obvious reasons “To be seen as working”. They offer quick and temporarily solutions that only last as their term in office lasts, and then next time, they start all over again fooling the ukambani residents with the same approach.
On food insecurity, the solution lies within Ukambani, the answers are within the community. For once in like forever, the current governor of Kitui county came up with an approach towards fighting food insecurity that if embraced will see Ukambani being able to feed itself.
There are crops that will do well while others will never in persist in Ukambani. With short rains every season, you don’t expect crops like maize to do well. Drought resistance crops are what ukambani people should be taught to embrace. The ndengu movement by the Kitui County governor is thought an intelligent move that if embraced will go a long way. Ndengu is however not the only crop that can do well in Ukambani, we have crops like Sorghum, millet amongst many other crops.
Civic education should take the centre stage before these approaches are introduced in Ukambani. It is one thing to introduce an approach while it is another to get the recipients appreciate it. Over the current on going rain season, I had an over one week argument with my mother. Every season, with or without rains it is a must for my mama to plant maize. On my side, I tend to plant sorghum and Ndengu in my small portion of ancestral land. I wanted her to plant Sorghum and ndengu in all the portions of the land she tills, I even went ahead and bought enough seeds for her, but guess this was the beginning of a heated debate. She did not see how she could fill her portions with other crops and without maize. To her, it is never a season without having to plant crops like maize.
So basically what I am saying is simple, we need to educate our people on the importance of having these crops and why they’re more beneficial to us than any other crop. Changing a human perspective takes time, patience and effort, so while we embrace the Kitui Governor’s approach, we should first educate our people on its importance towards fighting food insecurity.
It is disturbing that five decades later after independence Ukambani is losing its mothers during childbirth. Maternity care is unaffordable even following the government’s efforts in making this affordable.
A day ago, while going through Facebook posts, I read a post where a young boy died of snake bite hours after bring taken to a dispensary that had no anti-venom for snakebite treatment. Even through the dispensary is located at a place where snakebites are more common than any other medical emergency, the dispensary lacked snakebite treatment, the young boy lost his life.
With devolution, I believe enough resources have been devolved and are available to cure this menace. With fresh ideas, I believe a sustainable health care in Ukambani is achievable.
Unfortunately the major challenge is, we have yet again recycled leaders who have either always been there or come from some sort of dynasties that give them enough ‘reputation’ to clinch to any political position.
It is indeed sad that Ukambani faces serious water shortages. I believe this is a problem that we call for ourselves. Every rain season, gallons of rainy water are washed to the Indian ocean. Shortly after the rains, leaders spend millions of kenyan Shillings sinking boreholes for the people, boreholes that dry in less than a year or two… Temporary solutions, see?
What happened to artificial dams? What would it take to educate the masses on simple water catchment techniques ?
The solution to Ukambani challenges lie within Ukambani.
First things first, why keep on recycling leaders? The more we elect the same brains over and over, the more we’ll cry. The people we’ve always elected since independence are not likely to bring any change or new ideas to face our situation.
The day we will learn to elect leaders based on their ability and capabilities than what family or political dynasty they come from is the day we’ll get solutions to our never ending challenges.
“Our problems our solutions”, nothing less nothing more. If we want to tackle these challenges, then let us not borrow solutions from elsewhere. Benchmarking is an okay thing, but the final solution lies within us.
Let us embrace civic education on the things that matter to us. Forget mere politicking. Health, food security, water and education are the things that matter more to Ukambani people than anything else.
Let our leaders invest more in feasibility study before taking just any approach that they think is fit for Ukambani. A lot of resources have been wasted over the time in the name of finding solutions to Ukambani problems. This must come to an end.
I personally believe that with genuine leaders who believe in getting solutions to Ukambani challenges anything is possible. While electing our leaders, things like party affiliations, family affiliations, status quo, family dynasties are the things that should never count. And the more we dwell in them, the more the lamentations.
Let us help build Ukambani, let us get the right solutions to our tr. We can do this, yes we can