The challenge, the conversation, the big issue, the dream, and the elephant in the room that should disturb the people of the former Western Province-the Counties of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga and neighboring Trans Nzoia-the Luhya nation and the Iteeso and Sabaot nations that are indigenous to the former Western Province, which is their homeland and is how to reinvent, reimagine, reboot, reinvigorate, renew, recreate, re-engineer, revamp that homeland so that it attains sustainable prosperity, wealth, happiness for a majority of its people.
Yes, the Western of today is markedly different from the Western of 1963, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. It has more children in school, in tertiary colleges, in universities. It has more health facilities, more healthcare givers, it has more and better roads, it has more electricity connections, water connections, better telecommunications connectivity,better homes, among other concrete progressive milestones.
But the Western region of the past decade, the years 2010 to 2020 is equally a Western region with more youths who are unemployed, under redeployed than it ever has had in its history since independence. It’s a region with high dropout rates from primary to secondary schools and a region where diseases like malaria still claim more lives than it ought to and a region where people continue to die from other preventable diseases like typhoid, pneumonia, T.B. HIV/Aids. Moreover, it’s a place where many children and adults, are wrecked with malnutrition, hunger and starvation, where jiggers afflict many who suffer in silence and shame. There is also unacceptable and degrading poverty and a region whose environment is being degraded at an alarming rate.
A key measure of how far we are making the homeland a land of opportunity, a land of hope, a land of prosperity is whether the homeland is an attractive, irresistible destination of its educated, skilled sons and daughters hungering to return and work and invest in their homeland. Yes, if Western remains a net exporter of its best-educated sons and daughters to Nairobi, Mombasa and other parts of Kenya and beyond then know that it is yet to achieve the desired standards of a land of opportunity and hope. If every young man and woman aspires to leave their homeland to prosper then make no mistake we have yet to make the homeland attractive and a centre for prosperity.
The challenge is how do we reinvent, recreate the homeland to be a desired destination for international visitors, akin to the way African migrants have set their sights on European and Middle East nations, and the USA and Canada, due to the untapped opportunities they envision. As the County governments grapple with the realization of their constitutional mandates, functions, they must seek to answer the question how do we reinvent the region. How do we make Western Kenya a land that attracts, brims with hope, opportunity and a magnet for business, settlement, an oasis where its children crave to work and live in and flourish, thrive, prosper and savour happiness, fulfilment without migrating yonder to realize their dreams.
It is incumbent upon every son and daughter of the region to ask the question, “Will I leave my homeland better than my father and mother did?” It is a dereliction for a generation, through acts of commission or omission to leave the family, County, homeland or country worse off than they found them. The time is now to call upon every generation to account for its contribution to its family, its homeland, its country without giving excuses. The call to action is that we must re-invent our homeland, Western Kenya. Nobody who comes from other regions is responsible for our destiny, we are totally responsible.