What you need to know:
- Article 4(2) makes National Values and principles of governance essential to the very essence of our Republic and its sovereignty.
- Article 10(2)(b) include human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised among these values.
In the minds of our parliamentarians, the constitutional responsibility to take measures to ensure that 50 per cent of our people have at least 33 per cent of positions is anathema. Because this obligation is a loathsome burden to our legislators, any possibility of policy and legislative innovation to conform with the Constitution is obstructed by toxic bias.
Nevertheless, these legislators have displayed an unbridled enthusiasm and stupendous inventiveness in showing Kenyans countless clever reasons why the Constitution is a compendium of deliriums, fantasies and outright madness.
In this endeavor, they have been energised, unstoppable, smug, confident and loudly authoritative. After watching footage of these public displays of backwardness, it occurred to me that in important ways that we cannot ignore, these members of Parliament are actually who we were intended to be, according to certain versions of Kenya’s founding vision.
Early forms of organised resistance to colonial administration, education and religion were sparked by a violent resentment of unwelcome interference in local traditions and culture. In particular, banning the circumcision of women, educating children, including girls, were seen as outrageous insults to the integrity of African culture and the authority of traditional institutions.
Coupled with the expropriation of native lands, these humiliations were the essential articles of the freedom struggle manifesto. This explains the dissonance in the biographies of our freedom heroes, who were diehard republicans and equally obdurate traditionalists.
The idea of pursuing republican sovereignty on the basis of nationalist mobilisation was instrumentally attractive because it promised absolute power together with control over land. Traditional fundamentalists were enthralled by the opportunity to secure their privilege within a culture of total domination and disenfranchisement of women and minorities. They saw sovereignty as an institution of impunity.
Our national values
Hence the eternal angst of those who believe that our freedom struggle and the nationalist project is far from culmination: the sabotage is so blatant, the impunity so savage! Idealists continue the struggle to actualise and perfect the nation implied by the quest for sovereignty in terms of independence from colonial and postcolonial domination, milestone after grueling milestone.
However, the reactionary column, quite in the clover, already enlisted powerful state institutions to push back and bolster their privilege and exclusive control of the ‘fruits of uhuru’. Appeals to convenient notions of culture and democratic principles are some of the sleights of hand deployed to devastating effect in sanitising bigotry and majoritarian tyranny.
These depraved appeals debuted in the era of Africanisation, when Sessional Paper 10 of 1965 essentially formalised ethnic exclusion under a rapacious postcolonial elite.
2020 may have been the year of the locust and the virus, but is also an opportunity for us to see how far we have come since the pregnant stillness of that dark night when we first raised our nation’s flag.
The voices of those ravenous chauvinists who stole a nation’s dream echo menacingly today, animating delirious potentates whose gullible minds are now addled with toxic ideologies and hateful policies. We hear them in Parliament, saying that our Constitution is subordinate to their bigotry.
They say that some communities have not made a case for Kenyan citizenship, and that inclusion of women is dangerous.
Values matter. Our national values matter, and lie at the foundation of our nation, republic and state. They supersede any political, cultural or socioeconomic claims. They precede our democracy.
Indeed, without our national values and principles of governance, our democracy is only naked, shameful and ugly majoritarianism.
Equality among genders
Germany’s National Socialist Party won an overwhelming electoral mandate in 1934. One of its policy priorities was the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. Values are the anchor that keep the ship of state and nation from drifting into inclement waters or crashing into unyielding rock.
Around then, Kenyan communities were condemning, ostracising and cursing its sons and daughters who challenged native custom by converting to Christianity, going to school, marrying uncircumcised women and not circumcising their daughters.
The majority was proudly intolerant of enlightenment and the enlightened were fugitives from devastating majoritarian sanction.
Today, we know that the Nazis were not just wrong; they were depraved and evil. We also know that our communities were embarrassingly unenlightened with regard to the shared humanity and equality among genders.
Article 4(2) makes National Values and principles of governance essential to the very essence of our Republic and its sovereignty. Article 10(2)(b) include human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised among these values.
This is what the Gender Equality Principle under Article 27(7) seeks to realise. Resistance to it, therefore is a savage stab at the heart of our Republic’s sovereignty and our nationhood.
That our Parliament in its stupendous multitude cannot summon sufficient moral imagination to correct a painful and embarrassing injustice in 2020 AD is the shame of our time.