To understand the government is to understand what ails it. It is to allow ourselves to be able to treat this sickness and make it functional again. A good government equals a good life for it’s people. Many people have put across their definitions of the word government. Google defines it as ‘the group of people with the authority to govern a country or state; a particular ministry in office.’ That’s the most difficult definition you will get. The Business Dictionary simplifies matters a bit and defines government as a group of people that governs a community or unit – pretty easy. Other simpler definitions of government are:
- Gov.t is a condition of ordered rule – it is a system of organised exercise of authority.
- Gov.t implies exercising a measure of control over others.
- Gov.t refers to a group of people charged with the responsibility of governing.
- Gov.t is a method of ruling a particular society.
- Gov.t is a system of social control under which the right to make laws and the right to enforce them lies in the hands of a particular group in society.
Ok, that’s enough for now. If you are lost, let’s go back a bit.
What is a country?
According to other sources, a country is a nation with its own government, occupying a certain area. This land must be defined by boundaries, which mark the end of that country and the beginning of another. It can also be defined as the people of a nation. Furthermore, a country is made up of land and people. This means that a country is a group of people, who occupy a certain geographical area (land), and who have some form of government.
The definition of a country has the word nation and government in it. Which leads me to ask, what is a nation? Someone defines it as a large group of people, who are united by a common culture, language, decent or history, and who are inhabiting a certain area/state.
This then means that for there to be a group of people given power to exercise authority over other people (government), there must first be a nation (a group of people united by a common culture, language, history etc), who occupy a particular area (land).
In this case then, Kenya is a country/nation.
It is difficult to mention government without mentioning politics. Politics refers to all the activities done to get the power of government, or help others get it. For example in Kenya, campaigns for elections and endorsements of certain leaders by other leaders – Moi and Uhuru are politics.
I hope I haven’t lost you so far.
One could ask, “So why do we need to give certain people power to exercise authority over the rest of the people in a society? ” It is a good question, and I have just the story for you.
People of a country, form a society i.e, general public/population of that country. As we mentioned above, a society shares certain things in common eg, they speak a common language – Swahili, have a common religion – Christianity, use the same currency – KSH etc. People in the same society want to live peacefully with each other, to cooperate and to generally help each other. They seek what is best for each other. But not always.
Sometimes, other people in this society want to steal, kill and destroy, just like the devil. Others lie and are constantly disagreeing, because it is their character. These people cause frustration and harm to the other members of that society. Sometimes, people from another society may come to cause chaos in this particular society. They may want to invade and takeover this society, eg the case of Uganda and Kenya over Migingo Island. Moreover, society also has other problems like poverty and disease. All these problems are called social problems.
I have always said that naturally, human beings do not like problems, or situations that cause them less happiness. They want to live good and happy lives. So they noticed these social problems and sought ways to solve them. One of the solutions that man developed is government. Society agreed that to solve its problems, it was going to give some people authority. It chose the best minds within that society and bestowed upon them the power to punish criminals, resolve conflicts, fight wars, build hospitals etc. So, a group of educated individuals assigned the responsibility of dealing with social problems on behalf of the larger society.
Society was reasonable. It understood that it had asked people to leave their current occupations which paid them, and go into a new occupation, so they needed to be paid. It also understood that for these select people to solve social problems, they needed money. Money to build prisons, to pay judges, to build and buy war artillery, to build roads etc. So, society agreed that these people in power shall take away some money from the people to do these things. This money is called tax.
In my understanding, these people given power by society (government) had only one specific agenda that encompasses all others; to protect the interests of the society at all times. They represent the society at all times. To protect the interests of the society means that government;
- Makes laws, interprets those laws and enforces those laws. These laws help to maintain law and order in that society. These laws for instance require that there be a formation of units like the police and the army. These units act on behalf of the society to identify and arrest criminals who cause unrest to the people, and to defends its citizens from external attacks by other governments or aliens from space.
- Identifies and provides social services. Such services are hospitals, schools, police, army, NSSF, NHIF etc.
It is sad that in the days we live, the purpose of government has almost entirely be neglected. They have forgotten that we elected them to protect us and to serve us. All they do is steal from us, at a higher rate than they help us get out of our miseries.
One could argue that, since government is a representation/face of its people, then the Kenyan government is a representation of the rest of the Kenyan population. Going by our government, we are ignorant, greedy, we lack values, and are generally morons.
[Pages turning, books closing, lockers opening, chairs dragging, tummies rumble]..
In my next post, I shall help you understand the different types of government in the world, before we narrow down to our own, Kenya.
Thank you class, you may now break for lunch.