Yesterday I had the opportunity to interact with one of the most respectable people in the legal profession, Dr. Kariuki Muigua. He is a great man judging from his achievements and opinions, I most certainly wonder why he doesn’t have a Nobel peace prize as he’s dedication to mediation mechanisms and ADRs is commendable. It was all in all an inspiring interaction especially to a first year law student as he took us down his journey to being the lawyer he is today. One of the key moments though was when I actually locked horns with him on the question of affirmative action. He himself detests the whole idea infact he insists that he believes in competence. The echoes of that particular conversation rang back and forth in my mind as the realisation that affirmative action was actually more of a problem sunk in.
Let’s just look at practical examples, when you go to a grocery shop, don’t you select the best looking tomatoes regardless of the reason why the bad looking ones are from poor farmers or poor environments?
If we keep assuring students in Turkana that all they need is to get 300 marks to go to a national school when will they ever surpass that target? When we tell women that there are special seats for them in government when will they ever realize that all sexes are equal?
Let’s talk about education first. A Pokot class eight pupil with 301marks is at par with a Nairobi class eight pupil with 420 marks, isn’t this total absurdity!!! Before you are quick to judge, let’s look at how it’s argued. Oh Nairobi has better facilities; Pokot has harsh conditions; Nairobi has more teachers, blah blah. That’s all the government says every year during schools selection, using affirmative action as a hideout for it’s pathetic, I repeat pathetic incompetence. How is that student supposed to compete adequately in the so called national schools populated by kids who passed with flying colours, isn’t that subjecting him/her esteem to inferiority? While at the same time locking the potential of a bright kid by exposing him to where he doesn’t deserve to be in. It almost sounds like punishment for being smart. How is affirmative action rather positive discrimination supposed to be a solution when it highly suggests that certain regions have a lower potential; wouldn’t you call this the poisoning of young mind-sets with abilities to do the unimaginable. That community/society will never step a notch higher because their mind-sets have been synchronised to think that success only comes through ‘favours’’.
Women, women, women. They are probably the most visible victims of this creature called affirmative action. The most memorable debate motions from my early school years was “Girls are better than boys’’, and our teachers strived at every chance to convince us that both sexes are equal. I personally was convicted to their reasoning and grew up knowing no sex was superior than the other. But as events unfolded, my conviction became dimmer; indeed the male species superseded the female counterparts. Special seats in almost every authority, compulsory presence of female representatives in every institution, let’s just look at it black and white. In simple terms, the ONLY way you women out there can be leaders is when you are favoured. It’s obviously something most ladies will not be delighted to hear; but that’s exactly what the law tells us, that’s what the conduct of women groups preach on. This then means that we have to compromise standards, compromise competence under the umbrella of affirmative action as the rain drops of third world pressures hit us harder. Is it really worth the trouble?
I believe there is a much better alternative to Affirmative Action which is EMPOWERMENT.
Let governments, let organizations, let institutions empower the otherwise disadvantaged or marginalized groups through development; e.g. providing entrepreneurial opportunities, building better schools, better social amenities in general. In clear terms, raise their standards to give them a fair opportunity to compete the so called ‘’advantaged groups’’. Only then can we have small successful nations within our states, only then can we have a garden of an equal sex perception, only then can tribal attachments have more benefit than detriments and finally only then can we create a better story than Singapore, Malaysia, you mention it .