By Kinaga Mbugua
The global economy grew by 3.3 per cent in 2014. Some big economies registered as low as 0.3 per cent growth, whilst others like Kenya grew by 5.3 per cent. The total number of educational institutions increased by 3.2 per cent from 77, 197 in 2013 to 79,641 in 2014. The total enrolment in pre-primary schools grew by 5.4 per cent to 3 million. Enrolment at secondary schools rose by 9.5 per cent. tHE Women enterprise Fund grew by 1.2 per cent to Ksh 169m in 2014. The informal sector reported the largest share of employment accounting for 82.7 per cent of the total jobs in Kenya. (Economic Survey, 2014)
Why most Kenyans may probably never get wind of such information, is that more often than not, we (led by the media) choose to focus TOO MUCH on the ugly end of our Country, and forget the reserves we have, and where our true strength lies as a people. One does not need to attend a thousand and one conferences to accent to the fact that we are our greatest enemies. The Kenyan narrative sold beyond our borders bites harshly into our insistence of loyalty to this great nation.
The other day at the office while having a chat with a colleague from the US, the stark reality of our dereliction as a people dawned with the perception that this guy had about Africa and Kenya specifically. His departure from the states was mired and wrapped up in fear among his family and friends that he would never come back in one piece. “Be safe”, according to him, is the most popular form of farewell wishes to anyone visiting Africa for the first time. Only for them to arrive here and find a peaceful, accommodative and beautiful land with beautiful people.
The Kenyan narrative sold out to the west must change. Though we can never re-write our history as a people, we can change the way we tell this story out there. A friend I recently met confessed that Kenya is one beautiful and peaceful country. She’s from Athens by the way. (funny). Well, we all know that Kenya isn’t the best there is. Nevertheless, it has largely been a wonderful home. And its here that we must concentrate on; its untapped resource.
There are million unrealized opportunities in practically all the sectors, with the informal sector taking a headstart. Coupled with the resilience and fortitude among most Kenyans, not even the skies remain our limit.
Recently, a research carried out on internet usage revealed that Kenyans are among the leading social media users in Africa, dwarfing larger populations within and beyond the continent. And in a time when the world lives online, Kenyans must take advantage of this and craft up a new Kenyan narrative to the world. We must resolve to tell them more about ourselves than the fact that ‘we killed and maimed each other’ between 2007-2008. Or that hundreds of our beloved brothers and sisters have lost their lives to cattle-rustlers, cowards in the name of Al-shaabab or the abundance as well as the lack of water (read floods).
Let’s tell them of the promise that lies within our counties, the existing plan to replicate the Mall of America here in Kenya, the prospects underlying the SGR (once complete), the emergence of a new gap within our retail industry, the potential in our open-government policy to investors and the wide democratic space we have earned over the years.
Let’s change how we tell our Kenyan story. The generations coming behind us will depend on it.
The writer comments on socio-political and economic issues