Let goodwill work for the benefit of Kenyans

Kenya should take advantage of the international goodwill it is enjoying, including the visit by Pope Francis to Nairobi this week, to turn around its fortunes, seek greater unity of purpose for its citizens, and build bridges, both within and beyond its borders.

A visit by the Pope is a momentous occasion in any country’s history because it provides a unifying force by bringing to the national stage a person who has wide appeal across political, religious, race, and other artificial divides.

Too often, the government has let opportunities that could galvanise national unity pass.

A case in point is the recent debacle involving the national football team, Harambee Stars, whose trip to Cape Verde was the cause of much public disillusionment.

Once again, an opportunity to show leadership by bringing those culpable to account was lost, cementing the perception that impunity has become business as usual for certain people.

The potential for using sports to increase the national happiness index went unexploited as the public fretted about the safety of their sporting heroes.

In the same vein, governance and national politics have been characterised by attrition rather than dialogue, while the country’s dealings with its international partners — such as the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) — have been marred by strident accusations, friction, and conflict, rather than rapprochement and soft diplomacy.

That is why, in the same week that the country was enjoying goodwill from the Pope’s visit, it was also in the spotlight for the antagonism that characterised its presentation at the ASP meeting in The Hague.

The country’s leadership needs to change its approach if the public is to benefit from the goodwill these opportunities present.