Pandemic has brought out President Uhuru’s statesmanship

Thursday, June 11th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta.

I am not a governance expert. However, in my estimation, I believe I can perform at par with the great minds that move and shake things around. 

I proved this to myself, and those who had cared to listen, during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s press conference on the review of the ongoing government measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday. 

In my predictions, I had stated that contrary to the unrealistic hopes of many Kenyans, I had a strong feeling that Uhuru would not play to the gallery.

I foresaw a situation where the President would throw his political hat out of the window, and adopt a statesman approach in managing the current lockdown by considering the best interests of the country.

I believe the President disappointed many of his buddies, in addition to our good old cartels who thrive by preying on public coffers through ‘tenderpreneurship’.

For those who look at things differently, however, the few who value nationhood above their stomachs, Uhuru did not disappoint.   

For once, I felt proud living in a country ruled by reason and not by emotion or whims. In fact, I knew my thoughts were justified when, early in his speech, Uhuru stated categorically that he had heeded the advice of ‘experts’.

This was quite a bold statement in a country that has neither place nor time for meritocracy in her scheme of things.

But many of our experts have disappointed many times when duty calls. Technocrats appointed to high public office usually find government not run by the rulebook, but through less than noble ideals. It ends up as a case of, ‘if you cannot beat them, join them’.

I do not live in Utopia, either, so I’m also going through tough challenges like the rest of my fellow Kenyans.

Indeed, the economic class boundaries have been broken, with people living in upmarket areas forced by circumstances to join the so-called hustler nation in eking out a living.

This is a good thing for the former, so they can have a sneak preview of how the other half lives.

Those who are waiting on the doorstep to go past the lockdown county limits are largely missing the point.

This is not about whether the President wants to let the people free or not. It is about a new reality, the emerging new normal, if you may.

It does not look like it right now, but life will never be the same again post-Covid-19 pandemic.

It is going to be about living a simple life, without the frills. I suspect many regulars in churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship have already met the same God in the tranquility of their privacy.

Further, the African custom of crowding in social gatherings like weddings and funerals will soon die naturally.

Many events will be invites-only in order to keep things simple, and cut unnecessary expenses and time-wasting. This has always been the sensible thing to do, anyway! 

In any case, where are we rushing to? We also need to take seriously the wisdom of Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, who has been cajoling Kenyans for pestering him on the reopening of schools.

Desperately wishing our children out of home says it all – that parents are to blame for the increasing juvenile delinquency through the abdication of their duties.

Ultimately, it is better to err on the side of caution. I could not have summed it better than ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, who in a Tweet after Kenyatta’s press conference said, “Under the circumstances President Uhuru made the right decision. He deserves our support. 

Navigating through life threatening times is not about populism but about hard and difficult decisions to save lives”. 

Adherence to professional guidelines is critical in beating the pandemic. —The writer is a communication expert and public policy analyst  —[email protected]

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