A week of scandalous revelations in Kenya.
It has been an interesting week in Kenya. I have just found out this evening that President Mwai Kibaki has made an appeal for Kes. 32 Billion (US$ 450 Million)Â in emergency food aid for Kenya this year due to the current famine being experienced in parts of the country. More specifically, that is the amount of money required to feed the approximately 10 million Kenyans who are in dire need of food. However, ironically, it is now coming to light that a big part of the current food crisis has been due to corruption at the Ministry of Agriculture – it is estimated that over Kes. 2 Billion (US$ 26 Million) has been pilfered.
I am not sure how this happened exactly but there are a good number of challenges that will make this request for food aid a daunting task. Consider the fact that the world is currently experiencing a major financial crisis, the likes that have not been seen in many decades. At the same time, there is also a general global food crisis underway and even developed countries are struggling to feed their own – these are tough times indeed.
However, like I said earlier, its been an interesting week in Kenya. We have come to learn that the Government of Kenya will have a significant short-fall in meeting its financial budgets for the year with tax collections expected to drop significantly. At the same time, Kenyans are learning just how big the Triton Petroleum oil trading scandal is where anÂ estimated Kes. 8 Billion (US$ 100 Million) has been lost due toÂ corruption at the Kenya Pipeline Company – it is expected that the Kenyan Tax Payer will have to foot the bill for this one as reported in the Press.
It has also come to light that George Muhoho, the Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director, has been put on compulsory leave prior to the completion of his current employment contract that ends in 2 months. The reason for doing so is apprently due to questionable contract awards amounting to Kes. 1.7 Billion (US$ 22 Million) during his tenure that the Government’s efficiency monitoring unit audited.
We will also recall that Kenyan Members of Parliament refused to pay taxes last year even though they effectively represent the interests of the people of Kenya and should be setting an example,Â especially in these trying times for most Kenyans. Then, of course, the icing on the cake! Kenya’s Foreign Ministry is sending a Kenyan delegation to the US to attend the Obama inauguration on Tuesday next week. However, here’s the thing, they have not been officially invited to the event by the US Government so they will be watching the inauguration, like most of the world will do, on TV (and in this case, probably in their expensive hotel rooms in the US!).
So, with all that has happened in Kenya this past week, I can only conclude that Kenyan leadership needs a reality check! They need to be thinking about the future and what it will look like for Kenya in the long haul. They need to move away from short-term and selfish gains to consider the impact of their actionsÂ (and inaction’s) for future generations of Kenyans. In this respect, I am once again inspired by Barack Obama who will take the oath of office in a few days time as the most powerful leader of all in the free world – the President of the United States of America. President-Elect Barack Obama recently wrote an open letter to his daughters that was featured in Parade Magazine. I was moved and touched by what he had to say. I hope Kenyan leadership can see the sense of purpose that Barack Obama has that they too need to emulate, if only for the sake of their children, as this letter shows:
Dear Malia and Sasha,
I know that you’ve both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn’t have let you have. But I also know that it hasn’t always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn’t make up for all the time we’ve been apart. I know how much I’ve missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.
When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I’d make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn’t seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.
I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren’t rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.
I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you’ll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.
Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.
That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.
She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It’s a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.
I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you’ve had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.
These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.
I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.