Freedom of expression is a good indicator of the country’s democratic growth.
Not so long ago, Kenyans who dared to speak out against injustices were quickly seized and detained.
The State was impervious to reason, based on unfounded fears about the people being a threat to it. Ironically, it hounded the very people whose rights it was established to guarantee.
Today, debate is raging on what changes in governance are needed to make the system more inclusive.
At the centre of the new discussion is the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report that arose from the March 9, 2018 ‘Handshake’ between then-political arch-rivals President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
It is the document Kenyans from all walks of life need to discuss and fine-tune to chart a new course for the nation.
Unlike in the past, the two leaders cannot impose their ideas on the people.
And it can only get better as nobody has pressure to endorse the proposals. Kenyans have no reason to look over their shoulder as they debate it.
This confirms a reasonable level of democratisation in which the people enjoy their freedoms.
Indeed, Kenyans are enjoying the fruits of what is generally referred to as the struggle for the “Second Liberation”.
Fortunately, a good number of the politicians who were deeply involved in that struggle, including Mr Odinga, are still active in politics and can make further contributions to the BBI report.
Former Cabinet minister Charles Rubia, who died recently, his colleague, Kenneth Matiba, who died in 2018, and scores of other Kenyans suffered incarceration in the 1990s for merely speaking out against dictatorship.
They paid a heavy price for exercising their freedom of speech. This sad chapter in our political development must forever remain consigned to the dustbin of history.
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