She says… People power

| May 14, 2013 - 9.19UTC
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So we have a new government, a new chapter in our story. But what is each of us doing to help move the country forward? wonders Rose Odengo

I went out on the streets the other day and spoke to people at random. I asked them one simple question: how do you think you can make Kenya better? A security guard told me that his job was to protect businesses from theft. He believed he was contributing to the economy. I spoke to a chef. His response was simple: people need to eat to be productive – he feeds them.

I met a recent high school graduate. She said that she is looking to Konza to put her IT knowledge in action, but she volunteers her time in environmental clean-ups.

I also spoke to another chap who was running a recruitment agency, offering employment opportunities in the Middle East. He believed political leadership should solve unemployment.

The responses were diverse, and for some reason some women did not like me sticking an audio recorder in their face, even when I asked for their permission to do so. But what was consistent was that in most instances they were not aware that they had a role to play in building this country. They were just living or surviving.

Imagine a country without supermarkets, or Mama Mboga? Where would you buy food? And at what cost? Will you be walking to factories to buy your cereal and toilet paper? Travelling to Thika to get pineapples? Whether it is blue-collar or white-collar enterprise, everyone is chipping in to make this country better and easier to live in.

On the flip side, when we are idiots on the road and overlap, we all end up stuck in traffic. We ALL suffer. If you are waiting to have the posters around your neighbourhood removed, well, keeping waiting. Someone else may have made the mess, but you should clean it up. Why? Because you live in that community and how it looks is your responsibility.

I am rallying my neighbours to start cleaning up the neighbourhood. My county representative will work for me, because we have things to do in my community. You see, political leadership is like a dog on a leash – when YOU step up and lead, they follow. You use the leash to direct them where you need to go, because you know what you need.

A potentially great Kenya only becomes so when the people DEMAND greatness. If you demand nothing and sit, watch and complain, then you will forever drag this grand nation down. What I am saying is: no matter what you are doing – shining shoes, brushing your teeth in the morning to save your fellow countrymen from halitosis, working as a doctor, corporate executive, cleaner or teacher – you are the foundation of this country.

You are the reason future generations will sing of your exploits. You are the foundation of Kenya, so put in a positive effort, no matter how grand or miniscule. As the commercial says: Kenya ni Jina, Nchi ni wewe.

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