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Monday, June 7, 2010

Dreams from my father --me and my dad on the new Constitution!

One, I just stole that from Barack Obama's book. I am told you can't plagiarise titles. But professional courtesy on my part makes me shout to all who'd care to listen that, that's where I got it.

I've been on a five-day leave. Never mind that I am entitled to 48, all of 48 working days, this year alone. Anyway, I was told the maximum I could take was five. "Just five and no more, you must be here next week", that's how my boss put it. Hmmm! Anyway, those are workplace domestics and I just put them out to the world. That's that!

So what did I do in those five days? I went to visit my convalescing mum, then went home, then came back to her. My old man was right there taking care of his better half. So, I had to sit around and share some thoughts. He's a very clever old man and patient too.

We spoke about many things, but then, when we passionately engaged in the debate about the proposed new Constitution, without any of us raising their voice (I wouldn't try that, say, fifteen years ago, back then I was juvenile).

We each quoted sections of the proposed law that we thought support our respective positions and I just marveled at his wisdom in pushing for the document. He has this amazing optimism that borders on naivety, but his, is laced with a touch of pragmatism.
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He kept backing the 'Yes' vote; saying how it is the best Constitution ever since independence (he's old and learned, he would know, but then it's the only Constitution we've ever had).
But I kept on telling him, this thing will be difficult to amend. He agreed. But said, let's pass it and then we'll struggle to amend.

And I kept telling him, amend first because it will be impossible to amend. He agreed. But then said, now that the options were to throw out the document or take it up, then why not?
He reminded me of the 2005 arguments for the No-vote and pointed out that they are the very arguments that the no-camp should be yapping about, yet, they are sticking to reason, when the 'Yes' guys are already pushing the propaganda gear to level 4!

Ha! Like the case was about women inheriting property and such stuff. But he says, that's progressive and the no-guys know it, and perhaps it is the reason why they are not even looking at it. I agreed!

He told me about devolution. I reminded him that we in Mumias were nine constituencies in one county, while Tharaka-Nithi guys were just two constituencies in one county. He told me about vetting all presidential appointments in Parliament, I told him that under the coalition arrangement that happened, but then deals were cut in House committees --remember how Bethuel Kiplagat ended up as chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
He told me about the land chapter and the cap on maximum land holding and the powers of the national land commission, and I reminded him about the reality of how poor people take the flak, while the rich always prosper. Somebody shout Zimbabwe?

Amazingly, we didn't touch the Kadhi's and abortion clauses. We silently agreed they are contentious and should not even wear us down.

Having followed the debate all along, and wittingly chipping in, my mum said we should just vote for the new Constitution and soon after amend it. My dad and I agreed that if it goes through, it was deliberately made difficult to amend so that the 'political shredding' that happened to the current Constitution doesn't befall this one. I gave her the following reasons! She just laughed. Heartily, I must add.

PS: I was in Western (Mumias) and my oh my, the guys preaching 'Yes' are better than the principals. They are not yapping about the 'No camp' being full of landgrabbers and selfish people. They are just 'selling the good in the document'. That was impressive. But then, the lies, the simplicity in interpreting the document! My goodness! That's civic education, they'll tell you!
PS2: So, the Committee of Experts has always said it will be impartial (which I doubted, but still hoped they'd give objectivity a shot, even if this is their document; their baby), but then this TV advert that goes something like "I support a new Constitution", then the "Jisomee, Jiamulie, Jichagulie" line is just blatantly inane. That's what I think!

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