THE celebrations that accompany every new year are as misplaced as they come, particularly if we continue to do everything in the same old ways. Hence my new year's wish list for East Africa and East Africans in 2013.
We may continue to play politics, for politics is a game of numbers and politicians generally think about the next elections and not the next generation.The best gift East Africans politicians from Nairobi to Bujumbura, Kigali to Kampala and Dar es Salaam to Juba would give East Africans would be statesmanship. Statesmanship is not easy on many of our politicians because they live for now and not tomorrow.
Our politics is dominated by what is in it for me today and not what we can do to make tomorrow a better place for our great grand children and theirs.An example of a statesman would be Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, a man who selflessly tried and shaped a nation that today we pride in as Tanzania. This breed of politician, selfless, inspirational, morally upright and desiring of nothing but the best for the nation and the continent, is rare. Many shall mouth his name but few can hold a candle to him.
The contest over resources that is an impediment to harmonization of the East African Community is yet another area in which our wish list goes. There is no denying that each of the five EAC countries has something unique they bring to the table.To those who believe they are the only ones with a unique brand and product, I say relax, even the beggar brings variety to life since after all no one says we all have to be equal.
Indeed and in fact, there is, more that East Africans have in common than the differences that we are proud to bandy around with abandon as reasons why we should keep everyone to their confines. Remember that before the colonialist drew boundaries, we were essentially one swathe of land, unrestricted by borders. Recall too that the Nyamwezi of Tanzania are close relations of the Maragoli in Kenya and share many common words in the languages.
The Rift Valley from South Sudan and beyond to the North and all the way through Longido, Manyara to Mbeya all the way to Zambia and Mozambique, places the majestic Serengeti into the same magical topography that includes the Masai Mara in Kenya, and to the west is the Ruwenzori deep into Rwanda and Congo.
This belt is rich in topography and geology as well as fauna that defies restriction to within confines of individual borders. It makes more sense that East Africa manages this heritage as a shared resource rather than individual resources that God saw to reward us with.
Take the recent discoveries of oil and gas, the former, in Kenya and Uganda and, the latter in Tanzania in exploitable quantities. These resources are deep in the ground and as exemplified by the differences with Malawi over exploration in Lake Tanganyika, such resources can be a blessing, handled right or an outright curse.
Statesmen will look for arbitration in the best possible way to find common ground. The politician will promise us that our army is ready and we shall not cede any ground, now tell me how we can negotiate with such hardliners sitting at the table, negotiators who are looking at the next vote not the next hope of generations to come.
Kenya has just appointed its 1st ever chief of police under the title of Inspector General of Police (IGP) David Kimaiyo. One may say so what? The significance of this appointment to East Africans is that for the first time ever in East Africa an IGP or chief of police being interviewed openly and members of the public allowed to comment on his suitability or otherwise for the role is such a huge step in the security of the nation and its people that we can't fail to wish it on the rest of East Africa.
One of the weaknesses of having politicians appoint the head of security forces particularly the police force has been the inability to combat crime, inclusive of blue collar crime otherwise called corruption perpetrated by politicians and senior government officials.It was inconceivable that in a network that includes members of the same party where the head of state appoints ministers and IGP, the latter can dare arrest a minister.
It is inconceivable but an independently appointed IGP whose appointment cannot be revoked by the President knows that he can do whatever it takes to stop runway crime, corruption, insecurity, drugs trade and trafficking many of these crimes which only happen because the perpetrators work in cahoots with government and political leaders.
IGP Kimaiyo's appointment is our last wish to East Africa that in the next few years all IGPs shall be appointees of the public serving interest of the people rather than of governments of the day. Truly independent and sadly for politicians beyond their clutches to control and manipulate.