Monday, March 23, 2009

19th June 1961 and 11th November 1962

19th June 1962 is when Kuwait became a formally independant country, nearly everybody knows this fact, as it is part of the curriculum of the History of Kuwait.

11th November 1962 is when the Kuwaiti Constitution was ratified by the late Sh. Abdulla Al Salem Al Sabah.

Ironically, a very small percentage of Kuwait's population actually knows the meaning behind this date.

On the other hand, this same demographic can tell you whether 2009 is a leap year or not, when did Sh. Sabah Al Ahmed took the countries Emirship, when St. Valentine's Day is, when Christmas will be, etc. etc...and possibly why February 25 and 26 are considered National Holidays.

In my opinion, this date should be considered another National Holiday, as it is ( or should be) regarded as the Birthday of Democracy in Kuwait, so far the most successful Democracy in the Arab World, and very little people know this fact. Expanding further, not many Kuwaitis know that Kuwait is the Middle East's most successful experiment in a Constitutional Monarchy.

In fact, and as a result of this Democracy, Kuwait ranks First among all the Arab countries (Second to Israel among all Middle East) in terms of Freedom of Speech, as represented by over 15 daily newspapers, over 5 State and Private Satellite TV stations, and around 10 radio stations, of which only 3 or 4 are state-run. With this freedom of speech, it is safe to assume that Kuwait is also one of the very few countries in the World where one can sleep at night without worrying about midnight visitors from the Government. How many Arab Nationals can say the same thing about their own system of Government?

Best of the worst, you may ask? Ok, but we're only around 50 years old, and as far as Democracies go, that's still a young age. The question is, when did it all start, and how?

The "how" part has been investigated and discussed in almost every election campaign, as well as nearly every politics-related blog out there. I'm more concerned here about the "when" part, since, in order to understand the present and prepare for the future, we need to learn from the past. Our past began way back before 1962, and was practices in the smallest of ways due to the small size of the popluation. However, this practice was finally approved and promulgated in '62, and understanding how and why is only half the story, the other half is 'when and by whom'. Only then can we understand the importance of our votes as we approach any elections. 

For what it's worth, and at the very least, I suggest we consider observing both June 19 and November 11 as National events,  similar to the U.S.'s Constitution Day, in order that we may instill a sense of awareness around these dates and their significances to our history, along the lines of both the National Day and Liberation Day celebrations. Emphasis can be given to all segments of Kuwait's society on the importance of this event; Seminars, conferences, shopping mall stands, the works.

If anything is missing from our young democracy and our new generation, it's that important sense of responsibility towards our Political system of government. We are a small nation of free-minded thinkers, and over the course of the years, we have proven to be the last resort for the persecuted and the prejudiced. We need to understand how Kuwait came to be the political system it is in so that we may better understand - and hopefully, amend to our advantage - this political system in a way that would be fair and equal to all it's inhabitants.

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