OPINION: Uhuru’s presidential compassion acts inject hope in times of national gloom
By Michael Cherambos
If one were to create a great leader from scratch, many would say that the necessary ingredients are leadership, power of persuasion and the ability to command.
While these are extremely important qualities, I would venture to suggest that before these, a truly great leader must have integrity, humanity and compassion.
If we look around the world today, we see increasing examples of leaders who are exceedingly persuasive and commanding, but sorely lacking in integrity and compassion.
Even in Kenya we have our fair share of this type of aspirants.
Few, even among detractors, would say that President Uhuru Kenyatta is not one of those unique leaders who has both sets of qualities.
While our nation was run in the past by many who had questionable ethics and emboldened themselves with the wealth of the people, since entering politics as a Member of Parliament for Gatundu South in 2003, there has never been even a suggestion that he has had his hand in the public pocket.
His humanity is highly noticeable in every picture he takes with wananchi, especially the children. One would have to be blind not to see how Uhuru’s eyes light up when he is around children, and frequently crouches down to be on eye level with them. His playful spirit and dancing, even attempting the ‘Dab’ on more than one occasion, shows he just gets Kenyan youths.
This is most certainly the reason why he has made so many projects with youth in mind, especially in innovation, arts and entertainment.
However, perhaps his greatest quality is his compassion for others.
The recent Precious Talent School tragedy is a sad but important example. After the tragedy which left eight pupils killed and 64 others injured, Uhuru immediately donated Ksh.1 million to the bereaved parents and another Ksh.1 million for the construction of new classrooms.
Uhuru’s focus is to first ensure that the families who lost their loved ones receive some measure of comfort and the surviving students are able to get back to classes as soon as possible.
While this level of compassion is apparent, there are others which do not take place in front of our eyes.
Gospel singer Rose Muhando was recently in Kenya undergoing treatment for her illness, and for most of the time the Tanzanian signer was far from the public eye.
However, in her new song, Muhando explains who a pivotal figure during her recuperation was.
In the song, titled Kenya Ulindwe, Muhando sings: “Kenyatta. Let your hands and your house be blessed. Let the open heavens profess blessings to you. Thank you to His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and all the Kenyans for the Love you showed me during my sickness in Kenya. Now I am safe and ready to work for the Lord.”
It is not known exactly what Uhuru did but it was clearly important enough for the Tanzanian singer to dedicate a song about.
While this song shines a little light on Uhuru’s compassion, it is certain that there are countless other times when our president is a man, a human, first and a leader second.
It is easy to be cynical in our world, especially in the field of politics. We read every day about leaders becoming more autocratic and less democratic. They place themselves above the people and the national interest because they cleave to power and authority. They don’t allow themselves to be human and every moment is dedicated purely to the continuation of their rule.
Even after six and a half years of Uhuru’s presidency, some are not convinced because we have become so inured to a different type of leader. We immediately suspect.
The near future, we will know longer have Uhuru in State House and one of the many currently vying for his seat will occupy it.
Like Muhando explains in her song, we need to see Uhuru as a blessing for our country.
Moreover, we need to see Uhuru as the paradigm for the type of leader that we would like to see and the Kenyan people deserve.
Mr. Cherambos comments on topical socio-political issues. Michaelcherambos1@gmail.com