A Statesman's Legacy: Macharia Kamau Is a Kenyan Representative at the UN Headquarters in New York. Here He Writes in a Personal Capacity about President Mwai Kibaki's Legacy, after the Head of State Gave His Final Speech as President to the UN General Assembly Last Month. Mwai Kibaki Steps Down after Kenya's March Elections
Kamau, Macharia, New African
PRESIDENT MWAI KIBAKI LED Kenya through a tumultuous to years that have left the country permanently transformed. Today's Kenya is unrecognisable from the Kenya of his predecessor, former President Daniel Arap Moi's pre-2002 era.
What is Kibaki's legacy? While it is difficult to find anything positive to say about Arap Moi's 24-year reign, most people are effusive about Kibaki's legacy, one that he has had to earn through painful personal challenges and tragedies.
At the onset of his presidency, he suffered a life-threatening accident that led to repeated health and physical problems. He endured, as did the country, a fractious first-term cabinet, corruption scandals, a series of deaths and tragic accidents among close confidants, as well as cabinet and political allies. Most famously, he weathered the near-terminal events to his rule in 2007-08 during the post-election violence.
Many technocrats point to Kibaki's record of skillful macroeconomic management and his prudent oversight of fiscal and monetary affairs that restored the nation's image with the international community. The greatest legacy he left to Kenya was that he unleashed a multitude of entrepreneurial, innovative and investment spirits unseen before in the country. This, in turn, led to sustained economic growth and a quadrupling of government revenues and the gross domestic product.
Civil society groups, international humanitarian and development agencies speak highly of Kibaki's early achievement in opening up Kenya's schools to over I.2M children, who had been kept from education by bad governance and punitive school fees. Equally important, during the past 10 years, Kenya's life expectancy has increased by five to seven years as HIV/Aids, among other diseases, have been beaten down and access to healthcare, treatment and drugs has improved.
Most Kenyans will also point to the transformative infrastructure projects of roads, energy, electricity networks and fibre-optic cables that now crisscross the length and breadth of the country; an enormous boon to economic growth and the better integration of the nation. …