I have never gone to heaven ,neither do I know anyone who has seen the so-called pearly gates but I sometimes imagine I have an idea.
Definitely not a place where we play harps all day or drink fruit juice from morning till night but it may have a huge library that has all the books that have ever been published,has a wine bar that serves French champagne and Italian wines and a coffee shop that sells French pastries and Kenyan coffee.
I may probably be labelled a heretic for this but I like to think it’s filled with good things,why else would we all be happy to heading there anyway?
I believe heaven should be a place where everyone feels they belong and where it is not necessary to convince people it was worth waiting a lifetime to get there.
Now Brand Kenya has a very nice advert on Kenya that gives you the warm fuzzy feeling and you want to go ohhhhhh that so sweet and patriotic.
But we forget that branding the country has got more to do with how its citizens feel about themselves,their leaders and how the national psyche at the time is.
It needs to be based on a value system that describes us as a whole as 42 tribes,brown,chocolate,mahogany,dark-skinned,white,asian in all our different hues
Right now if you ask me ,it is a bad time to be Kenyan.With fuel prices on the rise,food prices have quickly followed suit and with a rag-tag government that is more concerned with next years elections than with how things are right NOW,we need grace to survive the day-to-day struggles of putting food on the table.
And all these problems aren’t because Kenya is a bad place or has horrible citizens who love breaking the law.
It just because things sometimes do not work and we seem to be averse to following rules and the letter of the law for the most part.
We have some of the best sights and sounds in the world,South Africa literally fights with us for tourists,a lot of people in the developed world have a Kenyan Safari on their bucket list.
We produce the worlds finest coffee and tea and we have some of the most enterprising people on earth.You can be sure you will find a Kenyan in Iceland doing his thing or selling nyama choma(Kenyan version of roast meat)
Kenya has many great things but it also has many more things that are wrong.
From the glaring inequalities that have fuelled social crimes to the blatant disregard for the law by every one of us ,we seem to be turning this little piece of heaven on earth into a veritable hell hole.
With our skewed political interests, we forget that the haven Kenya can be will only be achieved if we all work together,and that it is not the work of politicians to turn it into a haven of peace for citizens.
It is everyone’s responsibility.
It is going to require that we throw away the tribal tinted glasses with which we seek to view fellow Kenyans.
It could start with us taking more care of our environment,and now even more so because Wangari Maathai our Nobel laureate is gone.
A few weeks back I had the privilege of getting a bird’s-eye view of Nandi Hills forest and Kakamega forest and was left in utter shock.
Not because of the amount of forest cover in the country, but because smack in the middle of the forests there were empty patches of land where trees had clearly been cut down.
And there was more,there were spiffs of smoke finding their way into the clear afternoon sky from various spots in the forests,a clear and sure sign of charcoal burners.
Kenya needs to be the little haven where every Kenyan regardless of tribe,color,creed or belief feels welcome and at home.
Look at the South Africans with their Rainbow Nation,they have figured out a sense of what being South African is all about.
It does not matter whether you can name your ancestors 3 generations back or you just acquired citizenship,are visiting for a short while or just passing by en route to somewhere ,Kenya should be home to everyone who sets foot on our soil.
There need to be values that we as Kenyans can identify with,it could be hard work,welcoming or enterprising we need to pick what defines us.
It does no good for national psyche for Somalia militants to come and kidnap tourists right under our security organs noses,we need to improve on our security.We need to feel safe at “home”.
And let us not forget leadership plays a big part in all this business of branding.After all Brand Kenya is funded using tax payers money,we need to see our top leaders standing head ans shoulders above the definition of what it means to be Kenyan,once we agree on what that is.
Kenya can be a heaven down here,if we all believe in it.After all what legacy is our generation going to leave for the next one,a wrangling,quarrelsome,drama loving country- I hope not.
Let us make it possible.