By Dr. Bishop David Oginde.
The spat between Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Justice Njoki Ndung’u on one hand, and the discord between CORD and Jubilee leaders on the other, has exposed a strange characteristic of our leadership — a leadership devoid of every sense of dignity. It is a breed of leadership bent on pursuing nothing but one’s own ends at the expense of everyone else. Unfortunately, this is the brand of leadership we have become accustomed to and have in fact grown to admire. The fact, however, is that this approach to leadership tramples upon the rights and aspirations of those who have bequeathed the privilege of leadership to the leader. It is a tragedy that has befallen Kenyans time and again — yet we remain ever so hopeful.
Tuesday last week, I was in a meeting of senior Church leaders from across the country when word came that President Uhuru Kenyatta had just invited CORD leaders to a meeting in State House; and that CORD had readily accepted the invite and gone. The sense of relief and the expressions of joy among the Church leaders was not only palpable but spontaneous. In fact, the meeting took a moment to thank God for the apparent breakthrough over a matter that had gripped the hearts of many Kenyans and brought the nation to a near stand-still. Not one of the Church leaders in the room considered the invitation by the President or CORD’s acceptance as unnecessary or unacceptable — a clear evidence that Kenyans from across the nation want a peaceful nation, where their leaders treat one another with decorum and magnanimity. Unfortunately, our leaders somehow assume that such engagements would make them appear weak and spineless. No wonder, before we could fully rejoice, they cut short our joy by abandoning the path of peace in preference for their loved route to war.
It is one John Ruskin who aptly said, “I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don’t mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.” The implication for us is that, by taking the grandstand, our leaders appear to have either abandoned the path of humility or they have never been there in the first place.
Consequently, we have political leaders and public servants who seem to take pride in their boorish behavior, and others who hold us in contempt if we disagree with them. In the process they have totally undermined the dignity of leadership as they pursue personal interest at the expense of those they are supposed to lead and serve.
What our leaders do not realize is that, by abandoning the path of humility and decorum, they have set the nation on the road to destruction. Studies have shown that a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Researchers have found that small acts of rudeness can quickly escalate to increasingly harmful events that can destroy whole communities or nations. In-deed, history shows that families, communities, institutions, or nations that have abandoned decorum have inevitably imploded into nothingness. That is why the negative talk by our leaders must concern all of us. They sow within us seed of discord whose effects are most obviously evident in our discourse on social media. Pundits are agreed that these seeds of evil are germinating and, should matters come to a head, will readily degenerate into a civil war, perhaps beyond anything we have ever known — well beyond the 2007/8 clashes.
It is for this reason that we must appeal to our leaders, both in government and the opposition. Please, please we beg you — by the mercies of God — abandon the selfish grandstanding and place the people of Kenya first. Men and women of every walk of life — ordinary citizens, religious leaders, business fraternity, and the diplomatic corps have all pleaded with you to find a peaceful way of resolving the stalemate. Accordingly, by sticking to one position, you represent none other than yourself. Yet, as a leader, God has given you a mandate to lead His people to green pastures, not drive them to slaughter. Therefore, for every innocent person whose life is cut short, or whose blood is spilt be-cause of you, God will most certainly bring you to account.