By Mukurima X Muriuki
Dear president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Sometime this week, or later this month, you will host the victorious rugby team to a State House reception. What a moment this will herald for the country!
Mr. President, after your host the Kenyan team and perhaps after savoring the evening meal, I beseech you to take an evening walk for the food to settle. As you do so, please take time to think and reflect on Kenya’s victory, and why this had to take place in Singapore.
Mr. President, I have pondered on why Kenya’s triumph happened in Singapore. How come this victory did not shine on our country in Las Vegas where the team is arguably playing in front of “home fans.” How come the win was not achieved in London, home to nyakeru-our colonizer!
Mr. President, Kenya’s win took place in Singapore, a country that we sadly use as a perfect example to demonstrate “where we would be..” but are not, due to our own faults and failures!
See mr. President, Singapore and Kenya, both attained independence from the British in 1963, meaning that the two countries started the marathon together, and at the same pace!
In a speech at the university of Nairobi, former President Kibaki reminded the audience about Kenya’s first 15 years from 1963 to 1978. He called them “great years of Kenya.” According to Kibaki, Kenya had economic progress. Indeed Kenya shilling was exchanging for Kshs 8 to the dollar in 1980.
Today, “miraculously,” Singapore has grown to become a $52,000 per capita nation where every person can earn to have a good house and food during their lifetime. Singapore can also host a tournament of IRB repute! What happened to Safari Rally? We failed to host Africa cup of nations in 1996 and South Africa ended up hosting, and winning the tournament!
Back to Singapore; Assuming a per capita income of $500 in 1963 for both countries, one can deduce that Singapore has grown its economy 108 times to $52,000 per Capita and Kenya just 2 times to $1,000 per Capita!
Mr. President, this was not a case of manna falling from heaven-that last happened with Moses. You can read a great deal about it in the book of Exodus. Singapore grew itself from within through creation of a good plan, efficiency and great products that sold to the world. The first product Singapore had was a CORRUPT-FREE country.
Moreover, Global businesses have set up in Singapore and today, Singapore is a Global Financial center that is said to possess the world’s 11th largest foreign reserves.
In addition, Singapore receives 10 million tourists each year, more than double its population of 5 million. How many tourists do we get in Kenya per year? Need I mention role of Diaspora Singapore relative to its social, political and economic capital?
Mr. President, Singapore is also famous for the oil-refining and is one of the world’s top three oil-refining centres. I need not mention Singapore’s remarkable education system, that some analysts argue was borrowed from Kenya! Professor Anyang Nyong’o in one journal captures the irony: “whereas countries like Singapore were borrowing from the wisdom of Tom Mboya, Kenya chose to do away with Mboya.”
Mtukufu Rais, Singapore, our once upon a time brother, is only 716 sq km in size. You may say that this is akin to comparing apples to oranges granted Kenya’s bigger size. But let’s compare Singapore with Nairobi! The size of Nairobi is 696 sq km. Singapore has no slums. We cannot call Singapore a brother today; they are more of our daddy!
Let me be clear
I am not saying that Singapore is the best. We all know that it has been led by a benevolent dictator; yet, the flow of information in the country is admirable.
I hope that you will ponder on the notion of Singapore, and as history notes that it is in this country that Kenya won its first major trophy in rugby, historians will also remind our grandchildren that one time, Kenya and Singapore were on the same level:
Mr. President, are the gods saying something to Kenya using Singapore? Are the gods saying Enough!!!!
Yes, where there is a will there is a way. We can be like Singapore. The question is, do we want to?