By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA
When we passed the new constitution in 2010, majority of Kenyans
welcomed the new dawn with optimism; believing that it will help to
catalyse reforms in order to transform the country’s social, political
and economic spheres.
We have a critical role to play by taking advantage of the provisions
in the new constitution to nurture a good society through changing the
way we conduct ourselves daily in our society.
Remember, all mistakes we make whether big or small contributes to
national decay. Therefore, over-dependence on political leaders as the
only hope to fixing the challenges we face as a country is
far-fetched. This is because; the foundation of national success is
dependent upon a values-driven approach by the citizenry. It’s also
pegged on how we conduct ourselves in our private and public lives.
What is conceived in our mindset and thought process defines the
decisions we make in life. According to Gautama Buddha, the ancient
spiritual teacher of Buddhism, what we think, we become. A corrupt
mind will compel us to be corrupt, while an evil mind will lead us to
It takes a willing mind to walk away from tribalism, nepotism,
violence, molestation, theft, dishonesty and bribery if we think
broadly the negative impact the said vices bring to society.
Most challenges facing our nation are as a result of poor leadership
and incompetency amongst public servants. They have failed to adhere
to the ethical principles of duty.
We read about moral uprightness but this will not change us unless
we’re ready to observe, preserve and apply ethical values in our
everyday lives. This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect because, I’m also
struggling to ensure that my life is grounded on values, character,
integrity, honesty and truth. In fact, I understand the critical
importance of these moral tenets. That is why I decided to share my
According to a US philosopher Ralph Emerson, you sow a thought and
reap an action; sow an act and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a
character; sow a character and reap a destiny.
Our net worth to society is centred on what remains after we have
replaced the bad habits with good ones. Therefore, the destiny of our
society is pegged on actions, thoughts, habits and character of every
citizen irrespective of their standing in society.
If we plant hatred, tribalism, greed, envy and strife, we reap the
same. We can make choices, whether we become good trees which bear
good fruits or vice versa. We can shape a good Kenya if we plant
peace, harmony, love and treating others with dignity and respect,
fraternity and brotherhood.
Corruption is corruption whether it’s Anglo Leasing, Goldenberg,
stealing your neighbour’s chicken or Price gouging by unscrupulous
business people. The sum total of it all is corruption, and doom to
our beloved country.
Vendors of substandard or underweight products are devoid of ethics
and what they do is hurting the whole Country. The officers in charge
of standardization at the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS) are
remunerated well and Kenyans expects them to do a thorough job to
They need to ensure that all substandard imports ranging from drugs,
food stuffs and electronics are inspected before they are cleared into
the Kenyan market.
The faster we nurture the principles of probity and values, the higher
the chances of being able to see fairness, justice, equality and
equity in the Country. Honesty and truthfulness don’t hurt. If you
find someone’s lost wallet, it’s unethical to ransack its contents.
Keep it safe as the owner may emerge. Do to others what you expect
them to do you.
I recently forgot my cell phone in a restaurant and making a follow-up
the following day, I discovered that an honest person in the
restaurant picked it from where I left it and handed it to the
manager. What does not belong to you is not yours. We don’t need
religion to learn this.
If we expected our President, MP or Governor to operate with honesty
and integrity, we need to remember that as citizens, we have a
cardinal responsibility to act the same way.
As we strides toward elections, we need to elect people who with
values and a passion to serve. They must also put the interests of the
nation above theirs. Those with dubious records and who use tribe,
clan, family leanings and money to entice voters should be rejected at
the ballot boot.
Offering a job to a friend without qualifications merely because of
sharing a similar dialect is a negation of meritocracy, ruining
service delivery, and promoting nepotism and corruption in the
You find a farmer bribing a clerk at a Tea buying centre for more
kilos in order to fetch a higher bonus payment. In fact, the Tea clerk
steals the kilos from other farmers.
Is there any justification for the bribing farmer to complain about
corruption in the national radar when he or she is involved in corrupt
acts? Even the tea clerk is not justified to demand for better
remuneration from the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
We always blame traffic officers for corruption on the highways and
forget the fact that Matatu operators are purveyors of the same. The
operators are used to bribery to the extent that, even if the vehicle
involved is direct from the showroom, they will still hand money to
the officers on a road block.
Who is to blame here? If a vehicle is roadworthy, and a traffic
officer demands a bribe, the driver should decline, and demand a
charge sheet to appear in court and prove the vehicle’s
roadworthiness. We need to be patient and avoid cutting corners which
deny us justice.
Compatriots, let us wear the wrist watch of honest and drill in
character and values. Let us nurture a positive culture in conducting
all affairs which affect our lives. This is the surest way to make
Kenya a haven for prosperity for all.