Happy New Year! And despite the psychotic developments in US domestic and foreign policy, despite the clouds of destruction gathering like hungry muggers over the planet, I really mean it. I am FILLED with jubilation today – it's pouring out of my ears, dripping off my fingertips, shooting sparks out of my toes. Here's why.
Kenya's election results are rolling in. Mwai Kibaki, the presidential candidate fielded by the rainbow coalition of opposition parties, has so far won 65% of the vote. Titans of former single party rule have lost their seats. An unprecedented eleven women have been elected to parliament. The era of Daniel Arap Moi, and the ruling party KANU, who have plundered Kenya at will for 24 years, is over. And it's happening peacefully. My father's voice exults over the static on the long-distance phone: There was a time you didn't dare speak the words. Moi. Is. Going. The whole country has risen.
Without riots. Without military violence. Without coercion, terror, threats or intimidation. For Kenyans, this is the Berlin Wall coming down. This is a Florida recount where the truth prevails. This is a dream I never believed would materialize in my lifetime. All over the globe we are screaming, dancing, singing and embracing in front of our monitors, radios and TVs. We are sitting up all night watching results come in, tears of hope and renewed pride rolling down our faces; we are thanking all the gods, ancestors and spirits that sustain us.
For today, I am shedding my Cassandra cloak, and daring again to believe in possibilities. That change can happen. That people can unite to dismantle mighty forces of greed and corruption. That our joy and our faith will feed the work that needs to be done. In America, in Kenya, across the world. May it be so. Please may it be so. My comments today:
3 years later, Kibaki has not delivered on his promise to root out corruption. On the contrary, members of his cabinet have engineered several gigantic scams to loot the country's coffers. But there is, nevertheless, a climate of openness, debate and challenge in Kenya that did not exist in the Moi years. Kenyans are demanding accountability and transparency from their government. The Kenyan arts scene has exploded with new voices and visions. There is a sense of hope, possibility, real exciting work happening in every arena.