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Echoes Of Uhuru In Kenya Far From Nigeria



Echoes Of Uhuru In Kenya Far From Nigeria

Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
“Easter 1916” by W.B. Yeats

In penning the above excerpt of poetic memorial for the Irish martyrs in the Easter Rebellion of 1916, W.B. Yeats, one of the greatest poets in the English language, identifies the existence of extreme frustration rooted in injustice as a trigger of social upheavals that drive mankind to resist oppression of one group of people by another. A complete reading of the poem provides an insight into the causative background of Irish nationalism which fired the uprising against British imperialism, resulting in the death of a number of his compatriots that later attained martyrdom status.

While the Irish tragedies are numbered among the dark chapters of human history, much of those resemblances still manifest in many parts of the world. Yes, the African continent has long attained political independence, but it’s debatable if freedom has propelled the development of the various countries vis-a-vis the optimistic fervour of yesteryears. Even with the advent of liberal democracy as dictated by Western forces not much had been attained in terms of giving greater expression to the people’s quest for better conditions in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Lately, Kenya was gripped by social convulsions instigated by the youths. Not only was the underbelly of societal rot exposed; the tragic manifestation inevitably captured the volcanic reactions which a prolonged misgovernment of a polity could generate over time. That it took just an ill-conceived Finance Bill seeking an increase of taxes in a country wracked by poverty to ignite a week-long protests, demonstrations, civil disobedience, resistance and online activism activated by GEN Z youths is a food for thought. Was the country not steeped in relative stability the virtual breakdown of law and order was enough to take the country down the road of military incursion.

Kenya is full of contradictions despite the respect it had earned for sustaining democracy since independence, unlike its neighbours in the East African subregion. A succession of bad leaderships luxuriating in obscene opulence is one of the country’s biggest problems. As noticeable in other African countries like Nigeria, Kenya has a small number of haves in the midst of have-nots and the latter group comprises the youthful population which accounts for a large figure of the unemployment rate of 10 per cent in the country.

A symbolic perspective to the youths’ aggression with its disruptive consequences reflects the interjection between the heroic quest at the present time and the historic valour of their forebears in the pre-independence era. For one thing, Kenyans did not only fight for their freedom from colonialists but have also fought on different occasions to preserve their freedom as exemplified by the turbulent transitional presidential elections between 2007 and 2017. Quite remarkably, the romanticisation of the Mau Mau Rebellion as a precursor to the country’s independence continues to enrich the younger generation with ways they could safeguard their hard-won freedom.

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Really emblematic of freedom, Uhuru is a worthy pursuit beyond the denotative boundary which flag independence merely gave to Black Africa. Since the true test of freedom is measured by the prosperity of a country, efforts must be directed towards reordering the unenviable circumstances of Kenya and many African countries. It entails finding solutions to the endemic problems posed by poverty, inequality and lack of inclusivity, climate change, weak private sector investment, youth unemployment and the susceptibility of the economy to internal and external shocks.

On our part, it’s incumbent on us to rouse ourselves from the dormant culture of not holding the leadership to account. Kenya shares similarities with Nigeria in some respects, but the social outlook of both countries as gleaned from the indifference of our citizens to embrace the path of civil protests differs significantly. Nigeria is not Kenya hence the echoes of Uhuru are far away from us. Why? The present generation of Nigerians, especially the youths whom the future is entrusted to, are enfeebled by numerous factors which include ethnic sentiments, sheer cowardice, and undue religiosity obsessed with an expectation of divine intervention in situations contrived by man.

Notwithstanding the long-suffering disposition of our countrymen and women, the Kenya uprising should serve as a guide to the Nigerian leadership to address the economic hardship in the country as quickly as possible. Just as Kenya President William Ruto quickly withdrew the Finance Bill, it would be sensitive for President Bola Tinubu to review, as a matter of necessity, the twin policies of subsidy removal and naira floatation to stem further impoverishment of the masses before he ends his term in 2027.
Trudging through the path of privation and misery in the past year had been sickening.

*Tony Eke, a journalist, is based in Asaba, Delta State capital.


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