kenya turns 44

At midnight on December 12th 1963, the Union Jack was lowered and the Kenyan flag raised high to mark the birth of one of the more successful countries on the African continent. I say successful because as most of Africa went up in flames due to civil wars, coups and counter coups, Kenya enjoyed relative peace and national cohesion under the strong handed but, in retrospect, effective leadership of its first two presidents; Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi. Although the two men were quasi-dictators, they presided over periods of development and in many ways helped Kenyans of all ethnicities realize their nationhood.  

After the establishment of liberal democratic rule in 2002, Kenya has enjoyed a resurgence of economic growth and expansion of freedoms. The country has a vibrant free press and a strong opposition (which incidentally is leading in opinion polls ahead of general elections in less than three weeks).

Very many problems still plague the country, though. Corruption is still a blot on the country’s record and the recent damaging report on police brutality and extra-judicial killings of suspected Mungiki (thuggish sect) members paint a bad picture of the current government.  The country’s high poverty levels, joblessness and lack of adequate housing also continue to pose challenges to the central government.

The many problems aside, Kenyans still have a reason to celebrate their independence: Their country has remained an island of peace and stability in contrast to its war torn neighbors like Somalia and Sudan. Kenya has also experienced a significantly higher degree of democratic consolidation, economic development and transparent governance than its neighbors in the region and beyond.

Happy Independence Day Kenyans!!

3 thoughts on “kenya turns 44

  1. There was nothing quasi about their dictatorships! They were essentially benevolent though 🙂 You need dictators in sub-Saharan Africa; the region is not ready for full fledged democracy.

    Been there, bled there, left the tee-shirt behind.

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  2. it is very encouraging to see Kenyan elite in diaspora follow closely what is going on in their country. I am delighted that the era of brain drain in this country is coming to an end as Kenyans finally understand the true nature of patriotism and respect of the motherland. Opalo this is a worthwhile comment and myself as one of the staunch supporter of the opposition, more specifically honorable Raila Odinga, there is imminent change for the good of this country come the December 27 when we will go to the polls. Mr Odinga, i believe will steer this country’s development to dizzy heights and all the vices and malpractices of the incumbent government will be dealt with to the latter. I hope to hear from you soon and keep following the political debate on the peoples president.

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  3. Interesting thoughts you brought up, Trevor. Are enough sub-Saharan Africa’s “elite” in the diaspora to have grossly effected the home nations?

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