Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kenya Mpya! Katiba Mpya! (New Kenya! New constitution!)

Submitted by Steph Dawes on 28 August, 2010

Yesterday was a major day in Kenya! After years of discussion, Kenya has finally not only voted in its new constitution (that was on August 4th, if you remember I said that I was going to post about the referendum… I am not, this is much more interesting. Short story: the referendum passed and Kenya has a new constitution and the entire country is excited to be moving forward! GO KENYA!) but they have started celebrating the change that is coming and implementing the changes…and that was what yesterday was all about- celebrating the new Kenya!

So, yes it was a public holiday.

No, I was not aware during the entire day that I was out vulturing… but, when I got back, Benson and Joseph (our camp staff, amazing men, both of them) made me well aware by informing me and telling me that there were surprises and plans for a celebration later that evening… and well, I am always up for Fisi Camp celebrations!
So, how did we celebrate? Why, how any good group of Kenyans and Americans should celebrate such a momentous occasion- with celebratory home and handmade flag pins, homemade cake and nice dessert-table conversation! Yes, while the girls were out on obs (and I was running and reading in my tent. I am Legend is a GREAT book, btw) Benson and Joseph went way out of their ways to prepare celebrations.

As dinner finished, Steven, Lesingo, Joseph and Benson and us all gathered around the table singing “Kenya Mypa! Katiba Mpya!” (New Kenya, New Constitution!) happily… and we proudly wore the home MADE Kenyan flags and enjoyed two homemade cakes- one with wheat for the wheat eaters and one Steph-safe and gluten free! My cake said “HAPPY NEW KENYA!” painted in Chocolate icing….mmmm all around (and of course, soda for those interested!) As we prepared celebrations, we all sat around the table- the whole crew, Lesingo, Steven, Benson, Joseph, Laura, Tracy and myself. We talked about the new constitution and how Kenya would change from their perspectives… some of the highlights:

1.The new constitution will hold land owners and land holders responsible for their land. What this means is that many government leaders have seized land over the years… and now, they will be held accountable and land will be returned to those who rightfully own it.
2.The youth 9all young people, even young married folk) will be empowered with jobs and opportunity so they can better protect their assets (in Maasai land, that means ways to protect and care for their livestock and families, most often.)
3.The government will be reorganized to enable more representation in parliament. Provinces broken down into counties which will each have a representative that will hold town meetings and report to higher and higher levels of government. Also, the youth and citizenry will be invited into parliament (not sure how the details work there) but the constitution indicates wanting the common man involved in running the country.
4.Free primary education (and secondary) will really become FREE. That means cutting down on corruption and better budgeting of finances to fully supply schools so that everyone has access to good education.

In listening to Joseph and Benson, I garnered the following about the celebrations in Nairobi: Apparently the celebration was held in Nyayo Stadium and there were representatives of 7 different African countries and the UN present. In addition, Kofi Annan was there for the day. There were speeches all day from dawn until dusk! Prime Minister Odinga was not even able to get to his remarks because everyone was so busy celebrating the constitution and his role in it! Everyone who could make it to Nairobi did…and it was a day of happiness, hope and celebration…

It was the same at Fisi Camp in the Mara. Good luck, Kenya!

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