American Author Professor David Landes in his Book “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” published in 1998 set out to find out through the recorded ages of civilization–how some societies, cultures, and nations thrive while others fail.
His conclusion-his answer to the question why some nations thrive and others fail-was condensed into one word, ‘belief’; that the difference in this world rests in ‘belief’. That the optimistic believers thrive and the pessimistic believers fail, and thus, nations with optimistic beliefs thrive and those with pessimistic beliefs fail.
Belief is the state of mind where a person thinks and envisions a situation to be, even if there isn’t verifiable evidence. Optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something. Pessimism is the tendency to see the worst aspect of things. It is cynicism.
So where does the Luhya nation fall in this scheme of things? Where does each of the Counties of the former Western Province of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, and the County of Trans Nzoia fall in the scheme of belief? What does the Luhya nation believe in-that can be identified as the underlying belief system which can be inculcated to our the children as they grow up to practice-to be the engine and the North star that directs their encounters with the rest of Kenya? Or rather, what is the belief foundation each parent inculcates in his or her child? Is it optimistic or pessimistic?
Is it not true that the United States of America is set up on the idea, the belief that it’s the land of opportunity where one can achieve anything they put their mind to, no matter who they are? Indeed the national anthem of the United States of America declares that it is “The land of the free and home of the brave”. The Jewish concept of “The Chosen People” is not a badge of superiority and separation. The belief of Jewish “chosenness” is a humble call to action and responsibility. It has served the Jewish people well for thousands of years and they have thrived across the world notwithstanding persecutions directed at them, with the Nazi holocaust as the high watermark of their persecution.
What then can we say is the “chosenness” of the Luhya nation? What is the latent optimistic belief we have that can catapult us to a thriving community and region? Is it possible to distil, construct a belief unique to our geography, history, culture, that is optimistic enough to power our region, our community? Our people, more so, the youth who have a great future ahead of them. It is through an optimistic belief foundation, unique to our region and our heritage that we can engineer social, economic, political renewal and transformation. What is the idea of our homeland? What is the overarching optimistic belief of our homeland? Are we trapped in pessimism, pettiness, scarcity, and failure? How do we re-engineer a new focus to power us going forward, 55 years since independence? Are we playing the game of courage in the search for our region’s thriving and banishing failure and underachievement which have dogged it since independence? Are we taking the risks that are inevitable but which those with optimistic beliefs take and ultimately thrive? Maybe not, but without an optimistic belief, we may wander longer in failure than the necessary stipulated time.
We must ask the question what is the belief system that dominates the Luhya nation. Is it right or optimistic? Therein lies the beginning of our renewal, our new future. The difference in the world is belief, from the fabric of the nations to communities, families and individuals.