I believe in ending the year in a good and jolly note. There is never any need to spend New Year’s Eve reminiscing all the wrong turns taken. This was my train of thought as I was thinking about writing this year’s last post. I have only spend the last five months in Kenya, but I will choose the best of those five months to put into perspective what 2012 was like for me in Kenya. Of course because Kenyans are now gearing up for a March election and a massive restructure of the government, all thoughts seem to be stuck on elections. So here we go…
In 2012, Kenya introduced the Biometric Voter Registration (BVRs) kits; a new technology which, according to the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC), should minimize election errors, rigging and stealing of votes. I have been registered and despite the wincing by President Kibaki during his registration, the process is painless. We will not be able to judge how effective these BVRs are, however I am proud to see the technology here. It means that Kenya is moving in the right direction especially since our Vision 2030 plans are highly dependent on technological advancement. The IEBC has also declared that it will use secure phones to announce electoral results which should stave off any repeat of 2007 fiasco with electoral results. I will not go into any more election drama – remember we are trying to keep this positive?
The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) have done us proud this year. The operation Linda Nchi[*] was a success with Kenya taking over Kismayu and driving Al Shabaab out of the town. The repercussions of the operation are felt every day with grenade attacks on the rise in Kenya, especially in Eastleigh (see the timeline). As Kenyans, we could cower and live in fear but from what I see, we are strong and refuse to be silenced by a few people who want to spread ill-will across the country.
The 2012 London Olympics was a disappointment to Kenyans as we expected more gold medals however, given that other countries have borrowed heavily from Kenya’s strategy, it was no wonder we were not as successful as before. One David Rudisha made us proud by breaking the 800 m world record, and for me that was enough to cover all other sins and disappointments.
I must not forget to mention the film industry in Kenya which has done us proud especially in the second half of the year. Nairobi Half Life is the story of a young man who is trying to make it in the theatre industry in Kenya. The movie is so well directed and crafted and with authentic ‘sheng[†]’ it leaves one glowing and singing praises about the story and about Kenya. “Nairobi Half Life” has been submitted for consideration in several Oscar categories. The second movie that caught my eye was Leo. In the light of full disclosure, I knew the screenwriter and director several years ago when she was still writing the script and from the television reviews, I declare it a hit! I am proud of our film industry, after so many years of struggle they are finally producing very good films and getting recognized internationally. The local sitcoms and soaps are also worth mentioning, but sincerely I don’t really watch these. I am not a sucker for love stories and the drama around them.
The transport industry in Kenya has also put a smile on my face – well some of the time. The Thika Super-Highway and other roads which are either getting repaired or getting upgraded have given investors courage to stay or enter the Kenyan market. In addition, the opening of the Syokimau Railway station and the construction of the commuter railway line in Nairobi is also slated to ease road congestion in Nairobi. I have ridden the train to Syokimau and the swanky carriages are clean, attractive and comfortable. Despite the many wrong turns that have happened in the Kenya transport industry, I am proud the Ministry of Transport is taking huge leaps in upgrading the transport system in Kenya.
The judiciary has also made a memorable impression on me and I suspect on many Kenyans. They have demonstrated impartiality in ruling on cases and have also worked hard to gain the trust of the Kenyan public. August 21-25 was the Judiciary Marches week whereby various branches of the judiciary in every country provided avenues for the public to learn about the system and to know they can trust the courts to deliver justice. Several cases have signaled the changes in the judiciary including the resignation of a high court judge due to proceedings challenging her integrity, and a lawsuit challenging the qualification of certain figures from running for presidential elections. Although some people feel that the judiciary is overstepping its bounds, I am proud that they are finally working independently and cases are progressing rather than staying frozen in the system.
In other news, the proliferation of fake mobile phones in Kenya saw the phones turned off by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), switched back on by unscrupulous IT geeks and then finally switched back on by the CCK. The fact that all this happened within a week is not lost on anyone. It goes to show there are some things which cannot be simply resolved by legislation. It did make for an interesting week in Kenya though.
I know Kenya is going places and just in case you missed my optimism; Kenya’s estimated growth rate 2011 – 4.4% and has the potential to reach 5% next year according to the National Bureau of statistics. These are the reasons why I relocated and continue to stay in Kenya, there is much to be happy about.
May 2013 bring with it much happiness for everyone.