Thursday, January 28, 2010


It's 2010 and the next general election year is fast approaching. If it will be anything like the last campaign session, brace yourselves for our "humble" wannabe leaders landing on our streets throwing money around (making it rain as some would put it), flaunting helicopters and hummers...the joys of being in politics! *I'm not being cynical...just pointing out the irony*.
As we go into this election period, I would like to strongly suggest that we each ask ourselves what it is we would want from the next government. For me, I think I would want something done about the poverty lines in Kenya....the differences between the rich and the poor, the elite and the illiterate are way too extreme to a point where the lower middle class and the middle middle class are almost wiped out. The percentage of Kenyan citizens living below the poverty line is alarming and we all need to start paying attention! After serving my fair share of time in the Mukurwa slums while I was in Kenya for work related projects, I was brought to my knees on more than a few felt to me as though our people had been so defeated and so disappointed by our system that they almost began to believe that poverty was intrinsic. I cannot tell you the amount of times I heard "my parents lived in the slum, I live in the slum and my children will end up here because the government does not care and the aid never gets to us"...and if this is not cause for alarm, I am not sure what is.
After reading The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier (this is definitely a must read), the extent of poverty in developing countries has really resonated in my mind...and let me tell you folks, the statistics are more than frightening! Kenya as a country was doing really well economically but the election violence after 2007 set us back a solid few years in terms of out economic and political standing in the world. Paul Collier points out a direct correlation between violence and civil wars and poverty. He states that conflict is inherent to politics but the form in which that conflict manifests itself is what makes the difference in how the economic stability of the country is affected. Violence, according to Collier, can trap a country in poverty. How bad can it possibly be? Well, it's pretty bad...civil war and violence can reduce growth in a developing country by about 2.3% per year so in a span of 7 years we are talking about being 15% more poor that we already were before the post-election about an economic depression! Every step forward that we had taken before this was undone in a span of a few months...if that does not put things into perspective for us, the voters, then I don't know what will.
Now, I think it's important to note that good governance in essential to help with the economic growth of a country, but even the most excellent governance and economic policies are said to help the growth process at about 10% before you hit the ceiling, (Collier, Bottom Billion). That said, it is also very vital to state that terribly governance and policies can destroy an economy at an alarming in point, Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe situation. According to the Bottom Billion, Robert Mugabe, his government, and policies made under him are responsible for the economic collapse of Zimbabwe since 1998 culminating in inflation of over...get this....1,000% a year! HOW RIDICULOUS IS THAT!!!! I don't know about you guys, but this is the last place I would to see Kenya headed to...but the reality of the situation is, if we are not carefully assessing this next stream of leaders vying for our votes, if we are not asking the right questions and if we are not holding ourselves and our government accountable for our actions, then this is where we might be headed.
I don't need to be a sour pas but I am making it my mission to do my part in emphasizing the importance of educating each other on our country's needs and educating each other on what it is we need to be looking for with this upcoming election...because by God, I will not stand for or tolerate another government that makes it their priority to put their own needs before mine, and my children's'....and I really hope that you share my sentiments as well. With hard work, drive, intelligence and the right governance, we can gradually climb our way out of poverty!

VIVA LA REVOLUCION!! *a phrase borrowed from a good friend...thanks!*

Collier, Paul. The Bottom Billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it.

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