Who will anoint her?
While reading the Bible in the Old Testament I am reminded of a story of a certain young man who was anointed to be king despite all odds. In his culture like it is in many traditions, wisdom is seen to come with age, and leaders should be ‘wise’. This young man didn’t fit the ‘set criteria’ so when the time for anointing the king came he was almost overlooked. Those who seemed to qualify were lined up as ‘the young boy’ was herding in the fields.
Today I had an encounter that brought this event to mind. I met a young woman, 27 years and determined to make a difference in Kenya and in her community. The young woman from the North Eastern Province is determined to vie for elections in 2012. With the current constitution of Kenya, there are various opportunities for leadership and she had her mind on Parliamentary seat; had as this is no longer an option. For one to become a leader in the community he/she- mostly he- will need ‘blessings’ from the community elders. She has been hoping for this to happen, talking with the elders and consulting with various persons. However, she was recently ‘informed’ by the elders that she “should not vie for elections, she is not fit enough”. The main reasons why she is not ‘fit’ for the role of leading in her community include the fact that she is a woman, and she is young, one of the ‘most unfortunate’ combinations to possess! Without doubt, with no support from the elders one stands no chance at all to be elected in her community. As if that is not enough, there has already been local arrangements where the ‘seats in the devolved government have been shared out’! This has been done according to clans and her clan can only vie for the senator seat. A clan is normally related persons with several families with the same lineage sharing a clan. In some communities the clan is a structured system that determines how the community runs while in some communities the clans’ role is no longer relevant to community.
This young woman stands no chance in representing her community in the senate position.
So who will anoint her? Who will anoint the young person in Kenya, more so the young woman in Kenya who has shown leadership in different spheres of life yet the community expect her to be ‘anointed’ by some elders or other ‘key people’ in the community? Who will anoint the woman who believes she has what it takes to lead the country or community yet her word is not enough? These thoughts were crossing my mind even as I encouraged this young woman and exploring options for her to ensure she impacts her community.
Going back to the Biblical story of David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, he was anointed against the odds that were otherwise put in the community. Jesse had eight sons, but only seven came to the feast. The youngest was not yet grown to manhood, and he kept his father’s sheep in the fields outside the city. When Eliab, the eldest son of Jesse, came, Samuel thought, “Surely this must be the man whom God has chosen.” For Eliab was a tall, handsome young man, and Samuel was pleased with his appearance. But God said, “This is not the man. You are judging by the outward appearance; I am looking at the heart.”
David may not have had opportunities to show ‘leadership’ in the community, but he was good at what he did in the fields. Sometimes as David kept the sheep he led them far away and he could not get back to his home at night. He slept under the stars near the sheep. He led them in safe places during the day so that they had good pasture. He counted them in the evening to see that they were all there. He watched carefully for the tracks of wild animals so that his sheep would be protected. He was alone a great deal. He practiced many hours throwing stones with his sling which was his only weapon other than his staff. Herding goats may not seem anything close to leading people but this was precisely the experience David had. He was faithful in his small responsibilities and God found it fit to qualify him for more responsibilities.
He was not a perfect man, had many shortcomings, but remains the best leader that Israelites had. A shepherd boy became the king.
Looking at the stark reality of Kenya scenario which the young woman reminded me of, I wonder who is anointing the leaders? Young people have most often been viewed as an irresponsible lot of people who need guidance and who can’t give the same. Time and again we have seen young people put Kenya in the limelight more so in athletics where Kenya has become an astounding giant in the Marathon. It is great news as a Kenyan woman or a Kenyan man makes Kenya proud and we rejoice. We have situation where some Kenyans have contributed negatively in the country, violent actions among others, and it is not lost that ‘the youth’ are the culprits. Why is the emphasis of the age factor only in the negative actions? We have experienced many mishaps and currently Kenya experiencing crisis after the other with fuel crisis being a head ache in the past few weeks. The persons mismanaging and causing the crisis are not judged according to their age, why only young people? Why are women judged as not fit to lead the community while they have been doing this on voluntary basis since time immemorial?
These are the thoughts swirling in my head this evening.
Age and gender doesn’t make one a good leader, neither does it disqualify one from being a good leader. There are many deserving Kenyans, women and men, young and old who will never be given the chance.
Why should the choice of leaders in this era be determined by what some persons in the community want or view as the qualities of good leader? The citizens have what it takes to ‘anoint’ the leader through the power of the ballot, but will this happen?