One of the most beautiful passages ever written comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
A time for war and a time for peace.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” we are taught.
“A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot;
A time to tear and a time to mend;
A time for war and a time for peace.”
These words go a long way towards explaining the Kenyan experience.
Our beloved nation, which was officially born on December 12, 1963, has many times in the intervening years appeared to be close to death. While we have always managed to step back from the precipice before we got there, the scent of death has always been a tragic part of our national life.
As a nation of farmers, we are fine tuned to appreciate when to plant and when to uproot. But on a national level, we know that all too often what was planted at great cost, has been prematurely uprooted in moments of collective madness.
We know that the influence of tribe in our political life, especially surrounding elections, has led to tears in our national mosaic, leaving deep scars. But for every tear, there are millions of honest, patriotic Kenyans who work tirelessly to put things back together.
War on graft
Today, the final pair of this sequence is the most relevant. For we are living in a unique period – both a time for war and a time for peace.
The war is a war on graft. A war for our national soul.
For where corruption exists, development cannot. When a society is riddled with corruption, nothing good can grow.
In recognition of this, in recent months Uhuru has begun an unprecedented war on graft, the sort of thing we have read about happening in Rwanda, Tanzania, Georgia and other countries, but never experienced for ourselves.
But suddenly, things have changed.
Every day when we open the newspaper or turn on the TV, we learn of another anti-corruption arrest. In the past couple weeks alone we have seen Evans Kidero, the former Nairobi Governor, Muhammad Swazuri, chairman of the National Land Commission, and the head of Kenya Railways, Atanas Maina, arrested for graft.
Behind these arrests is the newly appointed and empowered Director of Public Prosecutions, NoordinHaji, whose direct, aggressive style has the guilty running scared.
Uhuru has sent an open message to all his friends that no amount of money or connections will be enough to save anyone involved in corrupt practices, while he also stated that he would not hesitate to arrest even his own brother if the evidence was there.
This is not just for show. It is war.
At the same time, this is also the time for peace.
After an extremely divisive election campaign that paralysed the nation for over a year, it was clear that very little could be achieved without first uniting the nation.
The handshake between Uhuru and Raila in March did just that. Suddenly the fighting was behind us, and the time for peace had begun. With all the political forces of our nation pulling together, a period of national healing could begin, and there has been a noticeable drop in political and inter-communal tensions ever since.
For a nation scarred by the physical and psychological wounds of the 2008 post-election violence, the sight of Uhuru, Raila, Ruto and Kalonzo all on the same side, working together towards a common goal, is both surreal and extremely moving.
The hope is that this unprecedented time of peace breaks the cycle described in Ecclesiastes, and instead becomes the norm. It is not inevitable that groups who once fought will do so forever.
Europe has historically been the world’s most violent continent. Its divisions and tensions led to a full millennia of wars on the continent, including the two most bloody conflicts in human history – the First and Second World Wars.
But since 1945, central Europe has been the most peaceful region in the world. Historic enemies came together to forge a better more united future for their children, and now settle their disagreements peacefully and consensually.
This too can be our future.
A future of war on corruption and poverty. And a future of peace between brothers and sisters.
Views expressed in this article do not represent the opinion of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.