Is “Kenya Feb 28” (#KenyaFeb28) Missing the Point?


My name is N.V and I am a Kenyan. I’ll try and keep this brief.

As much as we Kenyans, are people of goodwill, we are not all endowed with leadership abilities. Indeed, Kenya has become a nation of complainers; we complain, complain, complain about what Kenya lacks and our unity stems from the fact that we know exactly what’s going amiss in our country. But even before the opening of democratic space that gave birth to the nation of complainers we are, we are and have always been a nation of followers. So we don’t need to consecrate any more time in displays of unity. What we need is different leadership to emerge from the masses to educate us and challenge the political class.

I am appalled that the organizers of KenyaFeb28 fail to understand that when you have an overwhelming chorus of people asking “what next?”, it can only mean one thing: we are asking to be led! In other words, we asking you: “now that you’ve brought all of us Kenyans under this one banner, how will you take us where we need to go?” We desperately need leadership in this country. Why do you think politicians have been able to get away all these years with murder, literally? It’s because they know that people need someone to stand up and say “I will take you to the Promised Land, I will lead you”. We already know how politicians in Kenya provide leadership: divide and conquer. We don’t want that kind of leadership. We are tired of being manipulated. We want a new kind of leadership that is centred around something greater, something bigger than all of us, our country.

Therefore I see KenyaFeb28 as a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity to do more to help this country move forward. We will unite and sing the National Anthem for all of eight or ten minutes and then what? In response all the supporters and indeed even the organizers of KenyaFeb28 will tell you is that what happens thereafter is up to you. I find this response unsatisfactory. KenyaFeb28 is an initiative which purports to lead Kenyans by calling them to unite for a single event. Once you generate an idea as powerful as KenyaFeb28, you must be willing to see it through its logical conclusion. There has to be a greater plan or else it will be but a mere memory.
Leadership cannot be a one day affair.

It is clear that behind this KenyaFeb28 initiative, there are many credible individuals with the capacity and courage of conviction to lead, why don’t they step forward and answer our cries of “what next?” with a concrete way-forward for Kenya. Why don’t those people or any others for that matter, step up and show us the way. Not everyone is capable of being a leader, not everyone has the experience or vision needed to steer this country forward. KenyaFeb28 would have been the perfect opportunity for those leaders that can lead us to emerge. Men and women of courage that are willing to take responsibility for unifying Kenyans as Kenyans. Men and women that are committed and willing to inspire others through their actions to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Who will stand up and take the lead? Because unity will not be enough.

36 thoughts on “Is “Kenya Feb 28” (#KenyaFeb28) Missing the Point?

    • Unfair question, dont you think?
      Dont make this personal. I have raised what I believe are genuine concerns about #KenyaFeb28, let’s discuss those if you please.

      Also refer to carolkmail’s intervention below.

  1. By leading do you mean overthrowing the government? *I’m joking* but yeah Feb 28th is a hoax. It’s a forum that brings people who confess on the regular that they don’t Vote, they don’t care about politics but here they are being duped by Politicians in the name of Activists to show unity. I’m united with my friends just as the next fellow. Unity is understanding the root causes of our problems would be awesome as this would enlighten us that Kenya is not only Nairobi, do something constructive for the nation that we claim to be proud off. I’ve been there done that and I can only go back if it’s something I know we are succeeding in.

    This singing bs can go to hell.

  2. ” I am appalled that the organizers of KenyaFeb28 fail to understand that when you have an overwhelming chorus of people asking “what next?” ”
    The idea is good, and without ideas we will not have the drive to do anything..
    I assume this is a start

    • Dont assume. KenyaFeb28 is a one- day thing. What happens after that according to them is “up to us”. It could either inspire new leadership to emerge or just end being forgotten. I hope it doesnt end up being the latter.

  3. @Wambui It is NOT what would get N.V’s blood running. Like him, I do not purport to be a leader. I might not even have the skill to lead anyone. But, I very well will choose who I shall follow. In this case, I am not inclined to follow the singers. The concept of KenyaFeb28, however noble it seems, does not make sense. You called me out. Got my undivided attention. I’m not one to sing songs, let alone the National Anthem. I, in my limited knowledge, however do know that Kenyans can do much more than sing the National Anthem. So instead of just calling them out to sing this one song, why not call them to sing, and contribute Kshs.10 each, for example after singing, the proceeds going to the many causes that are pending in the country? That would make sense from where I stand. Patriotism is not only symbolized by the anthem. Rather by what we are willing to do for those who cannot sing. Either because they are too hungry to sing, or they are busy trying to put their lives together to have a moment to sing. What have I done to prove my patriotism? Probably not much in your opinion. In mine however, I do my best to contribute where I can. In any effort aimed at helping those in need of help. So you will excuse me if on that day, instead of singing, I go round the corner and buy bread for that child who has not yet eaten, hoping that I have made a difference of sorts.

  4. Right. We shall sing the National Anthem. Then what? What is so hard to understand when one asks (then what?). It has to be a series of events. I get the whole “we shall be a united Kenyan” bit, but my question has been from the very first time I heard about the KenyaFeb28, to what end? Will we just go back to what our lives were 8 minutes before singing the anthem? I love this post because it has articulated my very own thoughts. This would have been a good time to start something. For a new leader to arise, and perhaps lead the people? What would have happened if Moses asked the people to meet at the shore of the Red Sea, then told them to figure it out o_O. Give us direction oh ye KenyaFeb28 organizers.

  5. I share your sentiments… however, i do not see it as a missed opportunity. I see it as an opportunity for people to put there minds together to come up with an answer to then?/what next? … I enjoyed your piece but would have appreciated it more if you gave me a solution, an idea to move this initiative further. As you said Kenyans like complaining, bashing and criticizing…how about we build this initiative into something bigger, how about we share the ideas we have that can transform society…how about we stop complaining and be part of the solution…

    How about that???

    • This movement needed to have leaders, figures, people who can be the flag-bearers. They need to come out clearly and be seen to be giving direction. In addition, a plan for future events would help.

      • not necessarily… what stops us from choosing who we want to lead us from the group that will be participating?? Why don’t you suggest the next event?? or help by giving the direction they so need?? all am saying is WE HAVE TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!

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  7. I will try and keep this brief….You my friend are like the mice in the tale who talked about belling the cat but balked at the idea of actually getting round to do it; and eventually the cat ate them all.
    It takes serious cahones to convince anyone to do anything without financial incentive …if you want to sit by and wax philosophical about “what happens next?” go ahead…I will be out there doing my part i.e. believing in a better Kenya….pity you even want to rob that from me and the rest of us
    There’s 2 kinds of people

    1.Those get things done
    2. Those who talk about those getting things done

    Which of them are you?

    Tim

    • The difference between you and me, “friend”, is that we’ll be side by side singing the National Anthem but I’ll be worried about what happens next while you’re busy making sure your singing voice is in sync with everyone else’s.

      Until you are ready to engage in a serious discussion over the issues I have raised in my blog, you and the rest of you are missing the point.

      You’re welcome, btw.

  8. Instead of making up intricate excuses on why the kenyaFeb28 call to sing is flawed, and why you won’t participate, I’d rather you put forward alternatives of your own or voice the direction you think the initiative should take to the organizers.
    Unity is not enough… but it’s the oxygen of any revolutionary action, and this is a commendable effort trying bolster what little of it we have.

    • I didnt say it was flawed nor did I say I will not participate.
      I have simply raised concerns, issues which I feel have been glossed over the KenyaFeb28 architects.
      Let’s try and keep things in perspective.

  9. Right. I’d like to share a couple of learnings from a book I’m reading called “Switch – To to change stuff when change is hard” – Chip & Dan Heath.

    When trying to change people, there are three critical components that must be in place for powerful change to happen:

    1. People must be motivated: We need something to rally around. This is normally a powerful positive emotion of sorts. I believe this is the component the Feb28 group is tapping into

    2. People need to be directed: This i guess is where the ambiguity is stifling the vision. Various people have articulated a need for the vision. I suspect the group organizing this demonstration of patriotism were deeply inspired by the happenings in North Africa. But more clearly needs to be done. And I don’t think its too late. I think the organisers can be a very potent force if they turn this into a political instrument that is a vehicle for the ambitions of the young leaders who don’t want to wait. Now is not the time to dream small. Turn this into something a whole lot of us can get behind.

    3. The path must be shaped: Make it easy to enroll into the dream. Tell us how this should work. We want a new breed of leaders? Make it clear how the selection will work. Uphold the standards and be consistent. I guarantee you, I will go that extra mile for those who will stand up to lead in the sprit of the new constitution.

    We are all on the same side people.

  10. I agree with your post for the most part. Yes, it would make little sense to sing and walk on, moving to God-knows-where after the National Anthem reaches its endpoint. Certainly would be an anticlimax. However when I consider your last words, “Men and women that are committed and willing to inspire others through their actions to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country”, it does feel like your ideal dénouement would be for some bloke to give his all à la self-immolation that began the Jasmine Revolution.

    That said, I could be wrong; perhaps you do not intend something as drastic. However, I believe that at times even without a plan as to ‘what next’, we find ourselves through such an initiative having set the foundation for something greater.

    I am certain that when the Freedom Fighters went to Europe during World War II they had no expectation of ‘what would happen next’. They went because they had to. We are singing because ‘we want to’ – that is not to say that you should not buy bread for the kiddo at the corner @carolkmail. But you could do that on any day. There is, however, only one 1pm Feb 28 2011. We may be going to ‘fight in WWII’; what we come back with could be the beginning of our own ‘nationalistic movement’ that leads to our ‘Independence’.

    It’s a forum that we’ve started. Dec 17 and Jan 25 in Tunisia and Egypt respectively were relatively small in what they were at first glance. The cumulative aftermath is what has led to the great Jasmine and Egyptian Revolutions, and the domino effect that has followed thence.

  11. Emotions!! Emotions!!! Hahahaha be easy brothers & sisters. This country is way too diverse for just one whack agenda to deny us the opportunity of liking each other. There will be life after Feb 28th and Please don’t be talking like a little kid that people are not giving alternatives. We don’t need alternatives, we need the best for this country. So throw away your emotions and talk like Patriots not little kids excited by what’s going on in North America.

    Peace!!!

  12. KenyaFeb28 is a brilliant and groundbreaking idea but without a clear follow-up plan going forward, what will Kenya have gained?

  13. Pingback: My View on #KenyaFeb28 and The Way Forward | Diasporadical

  14. Pingback: My View on #KenyaFeb28 and The Way Forward | Diasporadical

  15. i’ve always thought Kenya28feb was a good idea. it is. problem is it’s not complete. i understand your concern that there is no clear leader or face to it all. the organizers probably thought (rightly) that Kenyans will not support someone from the ‘wrong’ tribe.. and the idea would be lost.
    an even bigger problem is this doesn’t give us a clear path! what Kenya needs is long term unity. i therefore expected a long term plan from the organizers. 8 minutes of singing the National Anthem is not enough. the fact that we want to do more should encourage the organizers..

    • Agreed! No one is disputing that #KenyaFeb28 is a fresh exciting idea full of potential but Kenyans wont follow it after lunch hour on Monday because they wont have anyone leading them forward.
      I believe Kenyans are capable of looking past ethnicity. So whoever among the organisers is brave enough to stand and take responsibility, people will follow them because of the powerful idea they have come up with and the fact that they are willing to put their country first and lead by example.

  16. The only test here is if people can be mobilized via social media to act in unison. The test is how many people will drop everything they are doing and sing the national anthem at 1pm on 28th Feb. Its like the whole najivunia kuwa mkenya business. It doesn’t need to have a profound point or a 10 year plan for it to be considered. On the 28th of Feb either sing the anthem or don’t. . no need to look for leadership whenever anyone suggests anything.

  17. This post is the first real lucid post that I have seen on this issue and I like the tone. It is a reasoning one.

    I think you are right: We are not all leaders (I am not one myself – the thought of it gives me the shivers!). I agree that the “then what” question is one that is an important – even urgent one – and that this chorus that many of us have joined in asking this is justified.

    What I am not sure of, is that we should be asking this of the organisers themselves. As I understand it, the initiative has been started by film maker Alison Ngibuini, Blogger Al Kags, Blogger Daudi Were (of mentalacrobatics fame) and some other people who bought the idea. These are people with their Jobs and their lives just like us, who took initiative and came up with one idea that they are rallying all of us around. This is what is within their capacity to do – get this conversation started.

    To hear that corporates like Nakumatt, Car & General and others have committed to sing, to hear that people in Kisii and Kisumu and other places around the country are prepared to sing, come Feb 28 at 1pm – demonstrates that these group have done a lot of work in the past one month and they chose to sacrifice some other part of their life and do this.

    The way we are talking about the “then what” question requiring them to come up with the answers, makes a problematic statement: That for someone to choose to do something for their country, they must have a large agenda or we shall villify them and dismiss their efforts as BS…

    We are a country of many Kenyans. Surely we do not aim to suggest that the only people with leadership abilities are the politicians on the one hand – and this group of young talented people only? Surely out of our population there are others?

    Also, as followers, maybe we should suggest what we ideas we have for taking it forward if they are unable to think of something… I don’t know that there is a magic bullet for Kenya’s problems and i don’t think our tone should be one that dicourages initiative.

    because of that, I have decided to sing with them. After all, I figure, if I have nothing else to offer, I might as well support what little is done.

    • Thank you for your comment and I couldnt agree with you more.
      There was never a doubt in my mind that I would sing our national anthem but I sincerely hope that the points you have raised in response to this blog post will get us all to sit and come up with more ideas and more new initiatives drawing from #KenyaFeb28 and based on what we already know about our country and its people.

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