22 December 2012

Kenya: A Resounding Victory for Democracy


President Kibaki delivered his farewell speech to Parliament last Wednesday - a speech which came at the end of a long and illustrious political career.

The president is vacating the political stage after serving as an MP for a record 50 years. This is no mean feat and congratulations are in order for the country's third Head of State.

But perhaps what stands out about the president's final speech is the fact that this is the first time in the history of Kenya that a serving Head of State has addressed the House to signify his imminent retirement.

This event was also a radical departure from the tradition that many African Presidents are famed for. Apart from celebrated statesmen such as South Africa's Nelson Madiba Mandela, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Botswana's Seretse Khama and and a few others, most African presidents would rather die in office than retire honourably even when it is clear to all and sundry that they have outlived their usefulness.

Names like Robert Mugabe, Abdoulaye Wade, Laurent Gbagbo among others quickly spring to mind. Kibaki's intention to retire and hand over power to the next democratically-elected president must be viewed in this light. It remarkably demonstrates that Kenya, as a democracy, has come of age.

It speaks volumes of the strides that Kenya has made in entrenching the ethos and values of democracy. It gives us hope that maybe the tragic events of the 2008 post-election violence were an aberration, and that Kenya truly is a functioning democracy.

Just before former President Daniel arap Moi left office in 2002, there were rumours that he might not voluntarily relinquish the reins of power.

This engendered much confusion and anxiety as to the future of democracy in the country. This time round, there's no such feeling among Kenyans.

There seems to be a consensus that once a president has done his time in office, he or she has no option but to make room for another person.

Quote of the day: "I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man." - Dwight L. Moody a US Evangelist died on December 22, 1899

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