I will tell a very personal story to get an important point across.
I believe that I was born to write and publish and not too long ago I was extremely frustrated and at the end of myself because my prosperous publishing business collapsed and nothing that I tried worked. This was mainly due to the damaging blow against the gutter press in Kenya (which the Nairobi Star is still struggling with today) that the mainstream press had successfully engineered. Every publication I tried to come up with (no matter how ingenious the concept was) completely failed to take off. There was of course also the hard economic times Kenyans were facing, but that was a secondary reason for my persistent failure. You will not believe how many times I tried. Finally in deep frustration I left Kenya for a foreign land and in my mind promised myself that I would never again go into publishing, at least not for the Kenyan market.
Employed full time working for somebody else, the opportunity to publish on the World Wide Web suddenly presented itself. But everybody I talked to told me I was dreaming. Not enough people had access to the Internet (that was early 2005). And how did I hope to make money from the exercise? I did not know enough about the web to succeed, I was bluntly told repeatedly. Actually I soon had a million and one reasons why it would never work.
At about the same time an interesting new conventional publishing opportunity in East Africa quite suddenly presented itself.
My choice was very simple. Either try something totally new and blaze the trail in a new direction or keep on doing what I had been repeatedly doing in recent times without much success.
You know the choice I took because you are reading this. Publishing on the web has so many advantages that I have lost interest completely in ever going back into conventional offline publishing.
The point I want to make is this. How do Kenyans expect change and success without trying something new? A centralized government system has NOT brought success. In fact it has caused so many problems (inevitable when so much power and resources are put in the hands of one person or a few people).
Yes blazing new trails has its’ risks. In fact it often involves very big risks. When I went into Internet publishing I was in a foreign land with nothing to fall back on and so I gambled everything including my family continuing to have regular meals on the table, on one roll of the dice so to speak.
In my view we as Kenyans don’t have a choice when it comes to embracing devolution. The truth is that we desperately need to try something different.
Despite all the noise they make, it is shocking how conservative Kenyans really are at heart. The Britishness in us has never really left.