By Joyce Nyamweya, CBS
Executive Director, Results for Africa Institute
We live in an exciting and terrifying time in the history of the world. We have the capacity for great good, we know more than we have ever known, knowledge is increasing at a very rapid rate, we have people flying around the world, we send people to the moon and satellites to other solar systems, our telescopes can see the universe. We are curing many diseases that have caused so much suffering and we are moving millions of people out of poverty.
But we also live in a time where mankind has the capacity to destroy the whole earth through weapons of mass destruction, the internet can harm as much as it helps, climate change threatens our global ecosystem, extremists are terrorizing the world, the nations of Africa have moved out of the colonial era only to demonstrate that we learned the lessons of colonialism very well. One would hope that the opportunity to move beyond dictators and tribalism, corruption and the destruction of nations would be our clarion call in this new world of governing ourselves.
Instead, we face daily challenges in our personal lives, in our work, our communities, our nations and indeed, the entire continent. So, how do we as Christians ‘stand up’ in the face of such overwhelming waves of evil, both intended and unintended?
I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ, we can do nothing less. We are called to ‘be the salt of the earth’, to be the light that shines in the darkness. I love the story of David and his five little stones and his sling. David was just a boy really when he was faced with having to kill the bear to protect his sheep. God prepared David to face the giants of his day, those giants who were screaming and yelling at the whole nation of Israel, challenging them all to battle. We, too, at this moment are facing giants who are screaming and shouting at us, threatening our very lives, our nations. David took the stones he had prepared and killed that giant.
So, what do we do? Let me tell you how God has led me in the use of my little gifts and experience to a knowledge and understanding of how we can bring transparency, accountability and results to the things that we do, to a continent in desperate need of the tools to chart their path in the 21st Century.
God gives each of us gifts, some spiritual and some temporal. We are commanded not to bury our talents but to multiply them. God expects RESULTS!!! He doesn’t appreciate us wasting the gifts that he has given us. I believe that as His disciples we are called to be the best, the most committed, effective, efficient, intelligent, compassionate and trustworthy people we can be. That means we are engaged, we are informed, we are hardworking, we are curious, we are always seeking a better way, we are reliant on Him, but we bring our best selves to the relationship with God and the work he is calling each of us to do.
Let’s talk about RESULTS. What are the stones that we have prepared to fight the giants of our day? In my world, I have worked with leaders, heads of state, regional institutions, and national governments to translate vision to results and how to improve service delivery and national productivity. At the grassroots we are focusing on comprehensive integrated strategies that link everything together from energy, water, agriculture, housing, education, health, economic development, value chain development, public safety, social services, and ICT. Every project has clear targets, measurable indicators that show our progress, and a clear road map for who does what. Every government employee has a performance contract. Every ministry had specific targets and those targets are framed in the bigger picture so that they all work together for greater impact.
As a member of the Secretary-General’s United Nations management reform team I led the design and facilitation of the UN Secretariat worldwide adoption and implementation of the UN Staff Performance Appraisal System. That system has transformed the way that the UN does business in a positive and productive way.
As the Permanent Secretary for Public Service Reform, we implemented a performance-based rapid results framework in Kenya between 2004-2008. The country moved from 0.6%G.D.P. in 2002 to 7% G.D.P. growth in 2007. The percentage of people living below the poverty line dropped from 56% to 46% of the total population in five years. In 2007 the country received the United Nations Public Service Award for enhanced transparency and accountability. The country also moved up 10 points in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ ranking in 2007-2008 period and was ranked as one of the “ top ten performers in simplifying business start-up” process. The reform programme was branded Results for Kenyans Programme with a clarion call of “Huduma Bora ni Haki Yako!” (From Kiswahili translates to “Quality Service is Your Right”).
How do we apply these tools in the church, in the Christian household, in Africa Arise programs? We must set targets, track indicators and show that we are meeting our objectives in measurable ways. We can do that by using tools like the Rapid Results Initiative that is a 100-day action plan that tackles our challenges in a full frontal attack. Let me give you an example. When I first took my position as Permanent Secretary there was a two-year backlog of applications for business licenses. In 100 days we brought in business students from the University of Nairobi and processed the entire backlog. We then designed a new process for business license applications so that the turnaround is less than a week.
Africa Arise must engage at the continental level with the African Union and the regional economic blocks such as the Intergovernmental Development Authority(IGAD), Economic Community of West African States and the others. At the national level the church should engage in bringing together a framework for collective action that includes the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations and the media for collective action, driving demand for achievement for what the government has already agreed to do. Let us own our national vision, take our national medium-term plans, let us engage in their development and successful implementation at the grassroots where the church lives and works.
At the grass roots let us broker knowledge, let us take responsibility for what happens in our elections, in our government assemblies, in our public policy, in the services that meet the needs of the most vulnerable, in creating jobs and enabling environments for fair and equitable access to income generation, health care, education and the protection of human rights. We cannot think that we are free from blame or condemnation if we only focus inside the Church, we must take the bushel basket off of the light of the church, we must reach out and be in the world, even as we are not of the world.
In our homes let us be in true relationship through Christ. The Ashanti proverb says “the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.” The reverse is true: The success of a nation begins in the homes of its people.” Let us BE Christ-like spouses, parents, siblings, and extended family. Let us be sure that there is no verbal or physical abuse, that we nurture and love each other to our full potentials.
Let us then be Christ-like neighbors, doing unto others as we would have them do to us. Let us stand up as followers of Jesus Christ and engage the world around us. Let us be aware of what is happening around us. Let us be informed, let us feel responsible for a society in which we must end violence, we must care for the marginalized, we must ensure that the political and social systems we live in are accountable, that there is transparency, that things actually work, that corruption is not tolerated, that it is rooted out, even if we have to take personal stands in difficult situations.
It only takes one or two in the beginning to shed light on what needs to be done. The brilliance of Africa is that if we do this together we do not have to stand alone, but we begin standing together. That is what creates change. That is what produces results.
God’s desire is that we prosper, that we are healthy and happy, but also that we care about our neighbor as he cares for us. So let us stand up in praise of our God, let us honor him by being his best reflection in the world. God Bless you.