This is a well-known adage: “You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
This maxim sums up, perhaps more than anything else, the differing worldviews and campaigns of Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.
On the one hand, NASA’s flagbearer Raila Odinga has gone on record stating that he will cease building, and even significantly reverse, infrastructure, the means to growth and progress for Kenya, but will immediately, in 90 days no less, reduce the cost of living.
Of course, Mr. Odinga has not given any indication of how he will succeed in this economically impossible task unless he raids all the budgets for education, health, housing and anything else which is helping improve the lives of average Kenyans.
When 90 days is up and the state coffers have been stripped clean, Kenyans will be left to fend completely for themselves as there will be no more money for street lights, schools, repairing of the roads, or access to health and running water.
Kenya will be ruined, it will have no engines for growth, but for a few fleeting days, perhaps, the price of unga will go down a few meagre shillings.
This is the vision of a Raila presidency; the promise of short term gain for long term decline. There will be a decline in our standard of living, a worsening of our lives as Kenyans and the deterioration of our nation.
The opposing position espoused and enacted by President Uhuru Kenyatta is that to make Kenyan lives better, we must take a little more time, invest in the foundations of a strong and robust Kenya as recognised by Vision 2030.
Over the last four years, with little fanfare and a lot of perseverance, the Uhuru-led government has laid out a long-term development plan, which has a defined and orderly strategy to protect and promote the interests of our country and citizens.
In 2013, Kenya needed a bold and transformative agenda. Not one which would carry the same tactical approach to the country’s needs and keep Kenya near the bottom of the global development ladder, but one which would, in leaps and bounds, put us at the top table on growth, innovation and industrialisation.
This is why Kenya, for the second year in a row, has been ranked as the third most improved country globally according to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. This is why Kenya is now known as Silicon Savannah and why the United Nations Secretary General singled out Kenya as a symbol of achievement and opportunity.
Many have asked the age-old question. What is the difference between a politician and a leader?
A leader earns respect by virtue of character. A politician demands respect by virtue of office.
A leader is proactive, a trailblazer. By the nature of politics, a politician is reactive. He or she is guided by sentiments that are already popular, or that they think will make them popular.
A leader delineates a clear course of action and takes responsibility if errors are made. A politician seeks to avoid responsibility for errors, and thus tends to obfuscate, doing and saying very little with a large number of words.
A leader takes a nation to a new level of transformative progress. A politician works for their own self-aggrandisement, a narrow political agenda, on issues where they can gain some supportive press attention even if it doesn’t help the nation as a whole.
Mr Kenyatta has shown by his bold and audacious agenda that he is a leader, a leader who talks little and does much.
A servant leader, where power is a tool to assist the people.
Mr Odinga by his actions has consistently shown that his interests are primary.
A leader who demands servitude, where the people are tools to gain power.
In these elections, Mr Odinga is offering the people a mere fish, a short-term panacea that he is hoping will sway enough heads to get him elected, even while there is no long-term plan or substance.
Uhuru is offering Kenyans the tools to fish, the material and infrastructure in order to equip Kenyans to help the country realize its true potential.
These two opposing worldviews are not only about how they see the future of Kenya but also about the faith they have in Kenyans.
This is what we need to remember come August 8.
Michael Cherambos is a social, political and economic commentator based in Nairobi.