Here’s the drill:
Most people seem to agree that this proposed new constitution has some merits and that it represents considerable progress for us as a nation in many ways and on many fronts.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that there are two camps, ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ standing diametrically opposed to each other.
Pastor M recently offered two refreshingly eloquent analogies to explain the positions of the two opposing camps.
Folk in the ‘Yes’ camp consider Kenyans as people on a journey.
They need to get to a particular destination. Let’s call that destination Z. Z is faraway. Far, faraway. They’ve been waiting for the bus that’ll get them to this far faraway destination for a long time. Maybe they’re even beginning to despair. And then along comes a bus.
The bus will get them to point M. That’s just far, not far faraway. It’s not where they were aiming to go, exactly, but it’s much closer to Z than they are right now. And when they get to M, they know they’ll be able to find another bus that’ll enable them connect to Z.
So they say, you know what, let’s hop on this bus. It’ll take us closer to where we want to go. They understand that that the constitution is not perfect. Yes, they say, the document has some issues, but on the whole, it represents progress. Let’s take it. Let’s deal with its issues up ahead. Let’s get on board this bus and get to point M.
Folk in the ‘No’ camp take a different tack:
In their view, the new constitution is like a sumptuous meal, painstakingly prepared and beautifully laid out… then served with just a touch of poison. What does one do with that? Do you ignore the poison and eat it? Would you eat it?
The important thing to underscore is that many naysayers too acknowledge the proposed new constitution is progressive in many aspects. The point is they feel it contains some deal breakers and they want those resolved before the big vote.
So what separates the two sides of the debate is how to deal with that which is contentious. When we choose this as our starting point for interaction and exchange with regard to the proposed new constitution, whether we consequently trend towards a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, we are less likely to allow ourselves to be drawn to the fringes, where the tone is alarmingly divisive and rumour mongering and hate mongering abound.
As a friend asked solemnly on facebook: what’s the point of your side winning in the referendum if the whole country loses as a result?
YES IS WHERE MY VOTE IS
YES IS WHERE MY VOTE IS
As for me: I'll be casting a 'Yes' vote.
It is a 'Yes' anchored in my vision for a country where a respect for our diversity as a people is embedded into our collective consciousness, and where we live harmoniously together in a prosperous and just nation built on a foundation of the rule of law and meaningful participation of the people in shaping the destiny of the nation.
To quote Yash Pal Ghai, the constitutional lawyer who's been involved in the process one way or the other for a long time,
"The long struggle for a new Constitution for Kenya has not merely been for a new document, but for a new society."