Prayers, protests will not put food on Kenyans’ tables

Written by on 23 February 2023

It is almost six months since Kenyans went to the election that ushered President William Ruto into State House and consigned Azimio leader Raila Odinga to opposition once again.

But any visitor to Kenya today would be forgiven for thinking the country is preparing for a General Election in a few weeks time.

The country is engulfed in politicking, with the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio leaders engaged in a venomous public contest over who won last year’s election and who has the numbers.

While the Kenya Kwanza brigade has been holding a series of prayer services where politicians castigate the opposition in the pretext of seeking divine intervention, Raila and his troops have been holding protest rallies to urge Kenyans not to recognise Ruto’s government.

Since ascending to the highest office in the land, Ruto has attended more than 17 prayer sessions in various parts of the country, including two at State House on September 25 and November 7, 2022 and the one at Nyayo National stadium on Tuesday last week.

Assuming that the President and his allies worship the Judeo-Christian God believed to have three great attributes of being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omni-benevolent (supremely good), these are too many sessions that God must have already heard the prayers and is now contemplating what to do.

The Kenya Kwanza prayer service at at the Nakuru Athletics Club two weeks ago elicited heated debate on social media with claims that the thousands of people in attendance were ferried there. This was after school buses from various parts of the country were spotted parked outside the venue.

As Ruto and Raila engage in a contest of bravado, Members of Parliament, whom one would have expect to play a mediator role, are busy playing musical chairs in their political parties.

Since January, it has been a season of accusations and counter-accusations between the Ruto and Raila camps. News on local television sets have been transformed into platforms where MPs and their supporters announce their defections and new political alliances.

This at a time when the cost of living has reached unprecedented highs occasioned by runaway inflation and the severe drought that has depleted the country’s food reserves.

According to Kenya Bureau of Standards data, more than 3.5 million Kenyans are food-poor and cannot meet the daily food requirements, with a bulk of them being farmers. In a majority of households, food accounts for up to 60 per cent of the expenditure.

The adverse impacts of climate change have hit the country hard and are affecting key sectors like energy, agriculture and transport.

The country is grappling with the rising burden of non-communicable diseases like cancer and heart ailments.

One in three families are at risk of sinking into poverty due to financial burden associated with the diseases. In these circumstances, Kenyans are hopeful that Ruto’s government will give priority to affordable healthcare promised in the manifesto through the Universal Health Coverage.

Of particular interest is increasing the number of those accessing the National Hospital Insurance Fund. The gap between health officials and the population to the World Health Organization-recommended strength of 23 for every 10,000 people also needs to be closed.

Though Ruto’s government has a full in-tray and competing interests, Kenyans are optimistic that development matters including agriculture, healthcare, environment, water, housing and sanitation should be prioritised in the implementation of the government’s agenda.

It is, therefore, disheartening to watch the unfolding events on the political scene. Kenyans are less interested in knowing which politician supports or owes allegiance to who. Neither is anybody interested in knowing who hurls the most insane insults.

To heal and move forward, Kenyans must discuss the current circumstances in which the country finds itself in, but in doing so, each must take into account the feelings of those who feel differently from them.

Let discussions focus on facts and issues that face the common people.

This is not the time for Kenyans and their leaders to play the Russian Roulette. There is life after any election and Kenya must move forward.

Kenyans want food on their tables. They want school fees for their children as well as drugs and essential services in hospitals.

Prayers alone will not move Kenya an inch.

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