Hope for the Future : Citizen Responsibilities in a Democratic Kenya
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Overall, this research demonstrated that citizens recognize that Kenya is currently a weak democracy. Nonetheless, many people agree that a strong democratic government will be best for Kenya. While this is the goal for many citizens, there are a lot of challenges to overcome, particularly in areas of education, poverty, unemployment and freedom of expression. Despite these challenges, citizens are growing increasingly aware of the need to become more actively involved in the consolidation of democracy. While citizens are currently participating through protests, violent demonstrations, and through vociferous opposition, more citizens need to participate using other means, such as voter education projects, grassroots organizing, and petitioning local representatives. This is important because most citizens recognize that the methods currently being used are not very effective or feel the government has not been very responsive, indicating that it may be time to try new methods. More importantly, what is most lacking is the habituation of liberal and democratic principles, which scholars cited as being key to democracy. Despite the lack of that, from what citizens, civil society leaders, and Kenyan scholars said, there is a growing awareness for the need to reject corrupt practices, and citizens are speaking out against acts of poor governance or when rights are trampled on is growing, particularly in the younger generations. In many ways this suggests almost a paradigm shift from ethnic politics and the power of wealth and heritage to a political culture based on values, democratic reforms and liberal principles. While it can be argued that there is. no democracy in the world that has completely eliminated the former or embraced the latter, many democracies today have come farther than Kenya's current state. At the same time it has taken some democracies (like the US) over a hundred years to reach that point, and Kenya has only had independence for the last 50 years or so. In that sense, it is reasonable that it should take Kenya another 50 years to become a consolidated. democracy. Also I think Kenyans need to spend more energy on developing their own unique brand of democracy to accommodate the specific needs of Kenya and its citizens rather than trying to match democratic models of the Western world. Given the distinctive history of colonialism, the Cold War and repressive regimes in Kenya and many other African countries, democracy in Kenya cannot develop as it has in the Western world. The most important conclusion is that Kenya is already making progress and has an optimistic, hopeful outlook for the future. This optimistic future relies on the actions of citizens just as much as, or even to a greater extent than, it does on the actions of government leaders.