We have selected this topic as in Kenya as elsewhere it’s not easy to be an optimist these days. There’s certainly enough about which to feel pessimistic, and going by what the media reflects we are embarked on a relentless downward vicious spiral. Too many of our conversations revolve around Kenya’s zero-sum political games, around our untrustworthy society’s lack of integrity, and not enough around how to take the country forward. Many feel they are but impotent observers, merely trying hard to survive despite it all.
So portraying ourselves as optimists will lead many to describe us as naïve and “starry eyed”. But just joining the complainers isn’t good enough – never mind that many Kenyans, in all sectors of society and at all levels, are competently taking the country forward – however quietly and uncelebrated.
Where have we been in all of this? Where are we now and where will we position ourselves in the days to come? The country needs forward movement, and it is leaders like us who must point to more than what is broken. How can we influence others to recognise opportunities as well as challenges, highlighting too the uplifting dimensions of our society?
Kenya needs our unbroken optimism. Not unjustified and ill-informed optimism, but rational and evidence-based. In short, what’s required, what’s achievable, is a culture of “Holding on to optimism”. We are the ones to set an example, boldly but humbly.