Madaraka Day is celebrated on 1st of June every year to mark the day Kenya attained internal self-rule after being a British colony for 43 years.
Madaraka is Swahili word meaning power or authority. Kenyans commemorate this day by witnessing military parades and other government sponsored festivities.
This year, the event, as it has come to be the norm now, was being held outside the capital Nairobi. The holiday has come at a time when Kenyans are struggling with high cost of living. It is also the time when the debate on the Finance Bill is hot. The bill contains tax proposals that will help the government attain its objectives in the 2023/2024 fiscal year.
On Thursday, thousands of people flocked the Moi Stadium in Embu County for the event. By 6 am, the stadium was fully packed by Kenyans from all walks of life eager to mark the day. It shows how Kenyans are eager to hear from the president. It was the first Madaraka Day to be led by President William Ruto.
The proposals that Kenyans want looked into include, but not limited to, proposed amendments to various tax statutes such as Income Tax Act, the Value Added Tax Act, the Tax Procedures Act and the Miscellaneous Fees and Levies Act. Kenyans have raised concern over these adjustments due to the economic pressure they are already feeling.
It is that time that employees’ salaries are delayed for even months, public servants are receiving little and highly taxed income. To some extent, workers are not paid fully. A time when health workers are on strike every now and then due to poor or delayed salaries.
It is also that time when the police are no longer providing security to the public but instead, using power to control them. It is now that religion is causing threat to the society. Some people are taking advantage of religion to manipulate believers to an extent of starving them to death without government knowledge.
Further, it is still that time when the education system is taking a new course and very expensive. The number of beggars and street children is growing on a daily basis. The time when security in the country is not guaranteed. A time when the value of the Kenyan Shilling is depreciating. At least or at worst every sector is facing a number of challenges.
Despite the hard times, politics is still reigning supreme on Kenyan land, with politicians shouting themselves hoarse at any small opportunity they get, in church, hotels or funerals! It’s a carefree attitude out there.
Almost 9 months into the new government, people in power are unsure of what they want to deliver to or for Kenyans. The promises made to Kenyans during campaigns are not coming bye. It is a circus.
It is the time when leaders are unable to come together and have talks on how to correct the mess. It is at such times that people need to understand what internal independence means. Elsewhere in the world, things are tough but we should also have the capacity to contain the situation. We can manage and get to somewhere better if everyone plays their role. People in power should have diverse ways of approaching issues so as to balance between state growth and giving the public fair services.
Citizens should learn to avoid the mistakes they make at the ballot box. We should not be crying over similar issues for decades. This will save us from feeling like foreigners in our own country. We should be working towards internal independence because we still seem to be longing for it.
Madaraka Day would be celebrated in style if all Kenyans, both leaders and the public, feel powerful in every sector.
How great will it be if the government also gives back to Kenyans by hearing their petitions?
By Matildah Obaigwa