By Samuel A. Bakutana
I often wonder why most people get surprised when they hear that more than 85% of the young people in our country have no mentors and role models. There’s one lesson most adults haven’t considered – something that was “silently shouting” at Kenya’s 50th Independence celebrations.
As the flag went up, Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, happily looked on. One couldn’t tell what was going through his mind, but I personally rewound to independence time in 1963 when Jomo Kenyatta, his father, was the country’s president: busy making state decisions, meeting world dignitaries, shaking hands with royals, while being guarded by top military personnel.
Fifty years later, his son is the country’s president; and like his father, he is tirelessly doing the presidential work, busy making decisions for Kenya. Three days ago at the Nelson Mandela service in South Africa, he was shaking hands with dignitaries from across the world, guarded by the top military personnel. When one considers the fact that Raila Odinga whose father Oginga Odinga was Jomo’s first vice president, was also in the race with Uhuru for presidency, one realizes that as the fathers were then, so are the sons now.
From this incident, I learn that what we are today may determine what our children shall be fifty years or less from now. The decisions we make, how we treat people, the way we think, the words we speak and our private life may later resurrect in our children’s lives. All our thoughts, words and actions are a seed and our children are the soil in which we plant this seed. Tomorrow, we’ll undoubtedly harvest. That’s why we must be careful what kind of seeds we’re planting in our children. We all have the liberty to make choices, but we don’t have the liberty to choose their consequences. This demands that we think twice before we make decisions, unlike some people who decide twice before they think! Whether parents in families, elders in society, politicians in government or marketplace leaders in the business world, we do well if we plant right seeds and show the young generation a good example.
Definitely, it’s not a must that our children will become like us. However, much of who we are shall truly manifest in their life. Examples of this abound all around us. We need to therefore live a model life. If only we committed ourselves to become men and women of integrity, the young generation would be inspired to form a responsible citizenry.
They would have the privilege of a wide pool from which to draw role models and mentors. We thus need not to just tell them, but to show them the way they should go so that when they grow up and occupy the seats we now occupy, they won’t stray. We should neither be signpost which point to where they’ve never gone nor the biblical Pharisees who became famous for saying one thing while doing its exact opposite. If we preach water while drinking wine, we’ll still produce drunkards because children have no ears but eyes!
Therefore, the unavoidable questions are: who are you today? Is that the kind of person you want your children to become? If not, change. Would you be happy to later see your child doing what you are doing today? If not, do something about it. Let us all plant the right seeds of integrity and responsibility, for God and our country. Like my little daughter was singing yesterday morning, “Happy Birthday, dear Kenya!”
The writer is a leadership developer, an inspirational keynote speaker and a personal development author who currently heads Delta Communities Uganda as National Coordinator.