I came across this article that really tickled my fancy on how Kenyan we can get! I hope it is a wake up call for us to write a new story for the decade that just started in 2010….
OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, Kenyans seem to have developed an almost pathological ability to lie to themselves. Today, everywhere you turn, somebody is buck-passing. Nobody wants to take responsibility any more. Psychologists probably explain it best as a desperate mechanism to cope with the harsh realities of life, but this doesn’t make it less bizarre and surreal. Doubt me? Consider these 10 common lies.
One, that the government has to help us with our personal problems. How many times have you seen on TV a Mama Mboga whose kiosk has been demolished, or somebody who, somehow, has sired 16 children saying, “naomba serikali itusaidie…”?
Fact is, there is no animal known as government that has bottomless pockets to solve people’s individual problems. Government is there to formulate policy and construct basic infrastructure with tax money. Anyone who wants to benefit from your tax money is a parasite.
THE SECOND LIE IS THAT KENYA IS a rich country whose wealth is looted by its leaders. Ha ha ha! Kenya is actually extremely poor. With nearly 40 million people, according to the CIA’s factbook, the country has a Gross National Product of just $31 billion. Contrast that to Singapore, with a population of about 4.7 million and a GDP of $155 billion. Kenyans should be thinking of baking a bigger cake, not how to share crumbs!
The third lie? That Kenyans are decent, hardworking people, but their leaders are bad. Go tell it to the birds. People get the leaders they deserve. And on that hard-working bit, it is only true for a very small part of the population, mostly women.
If you go to the rural areas, you will find most shopping centres clogged with .drunk men as early as 9 am. Without women, this country would be as poor as Sierra Leone! Lie number four is that a new Constitution will solve all our problems. Fat chance. We have laws against murder and arson, but did that stop the atrocities of early 2008 and the mayhem wreaked by Mungiki?
Fact is, a Constitution is as good as its implementation, otherwise it is just a piece of paper with ink stains. Countries like Britain don’t even have a written one. We need to rediscover our moral direction more than we need a Constitution. Lie number five is that foreigners, especially diplomats like US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger love us very much.
Let’s be blunt here. Diplomats are sent here by their governments to represent their own interests. They don’t love Kenya any more than they love Bhutan or Haiti. This to them is just a work-station. Nobody loves Kenya as Kenyans do, or should. This is your home, and only you can change it for the better. Start working on it.
The sixth lie is that Kenyans are a Godly, peace-loving people. OK, maybe we go to churches and mosques, but that doesn’t make us more God-fearing than the Russians or the Chinese. Which God-loving people wake up one day and start hacking each other with pangas (machetes)?
The seventh lie? That to jumpstart Kenya we need free education, free healthcare…. Let’s all get this clear: There’s nothing like a free lunch. When you are a poor country with no infrastructure and you spend the little you have on NGO-driven freebies, you’ll remain just that — poor. Free things should only be for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as the old and disabled.
Lie number eight — that it is poverty that leads to crime and acts of stupidity — has become popular of late. People burn while looting a fuel truck, or steal from the corpses of road accident victims and all you hear is the “poverty” excuse.
NOW, IF POVERTY WAS THE ROOT OF all evil, how come there are some really good people like national rugby coach Ben Ayimba from places like Kibera? Lie number nine? That a Kenyan ‘Obama’ will swoop down to save this country and lead us to everlasting prosperity.
The messianic narrative may make you sleep better, but it won’t happen. Look at China, the greatest economic miracle on earth. It has taken the sacrifice of an entire generation to pull millions out of poverty. One ‘Obama’ cannot do the job alone. Lie number ten. That your ethnic community is more hardworking, more honest than the others. If that were so, how come you — as a person and as a community — are still as poor as you are?
By DAGI KIMANI, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Kimani writes for The EastAfrican.