Category Archives: corruption in kenya

Giving up is not an option

Mid Morning today I read a tweeter update from Bankelele about “Diaspora’s giving up on Kenya”.

I read it, and I felt terrible about about what it means for us as a country.

I posted to him a smaller & edited version a response to his blog..

It begins:

In the Media, Bad News is great news.

I hope you realize this aspect of reporting as you and other Kenyan’s in the Diaspora make decisions about home.

It is always a crowd puller to report about 1000 people dying from post poll violence than it when 37 charter flights resume their flights to Kenya.

Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of Mis-directed reporting, one that doesn’t care about a continent that is still represented by a thin black child holding out his hands to relief food.

The grim images on TV are true, so much so that they became a label of what Kenya is about, but that can and will change if someone stops talking and starts acting. That someone is us. Someone who has a platform to inspire Kenyans towards change, in tiny little ways that may not seem tangible, but someone’s got to do something, and running away is not an option if we can learn to be passionate about our country.The media has a role to play..but that’s a story for another day.

Guys; if you don’t have hope about your mother-land. Who will?

I may seem like a dreamer with massive blinders on, so as not to see what’s going wrong. I know There’s plenty going wrong. I live in Nairobi.. from Corruption, to multiple institutional challenges, poverty, political upheaval… and so much more.

But we can do something about it. That’s my take and I am sticking with it.

There must be a reason why our telecoms sector is among fastest growing in SSA.There must be a reason why our stock exchange is still attractive, There must be a reason why tourist are trickling back in, there must be a reason why the name Kenya still has a ring to it….

What our country needs is reverse brain drain, Diaspora Kenyans with international exposure who are BRAVE enough to want a better country. Not those who have warmed up to Western Bliss and forgotten where they came from. We need Kenyan’s who will find motivation even as weapons from Somalia trickle in through our porous boundaries, We need Angry Kenyans who are tired of a dirty city….We need an overhaul in our thinking; and we need to stop talking and start acting..even in the littlest ways possible.

One of the biggest challenges is the gap between the Rich and the poor. If Kenya had more people meeting their basic human rights, then there would be less people to fight for greedy politicians, less hungry Kenyans to receive bread in exchange for a voter’s card, less infant deaths because they can receive healthcare, and less crime, because they have their basic human rights.

In my own small way I am ready to make a difference. We, Kenyans allow so much to happen, when we as individuals and families can educate & support even our employees to have a better life. We owe to ourselves to make a difference.

I was at Church this weekend, and we asked this: What are the dreams of your house girl?

Does she have a medical cover?
Does she have a savings account?
And one of the little ways Kenyans can encourage a saving culture with our home staff, and encourage them to get medical cover (NHIF) 160 Ksh per month. We will have gone along way in bridging the gap between poverty & wealth.

Every Sunday my Nanny goes to Kibera to spend with her extended family, and at Christmas, she travels to Kakamega to be with her Child and her Mum.
What do you think her child wants to be when she grows up? Perhaps a maid; so she can wear pretty clothes and live in the city, get a meal from a fridge and microwave it, use a real toilet that flushes, and Even watch TV (make that DSTV) while comfortably sitting on a sofa set.)

I began to ask myself, how many of us can afford to pay our house girls better, get them a medical cover, or even assist in taking their child to a better school, especially if they are up country? This is not the Government’s responsibility. Your employee is your responsibility.

By giving your girl a chance to healthcare, however simple, and teaching them to save, we are in fact giving them a lifeline.

We, Ordinary Kenyan’s have a role to play as well.

But you have to make that decision first. You need to realize your place in the Kenya you want, and work backwards from there.

Giving up is not an option.

I hope you, your missus, and your readers can begin to look at Kenya as a country you owe hope to.

That’s all I am asking, don’t give up on us…. just yet.

I HEAR GITHONGO IS BACK IN TOWN


I hear Githongo is in town.

I do not celebrate; I wonder what he is here for. After ducking away into European warmth, there is only so much to do back home, the zoo is still the same, the monkeys, the very size and colour. Nothing has changed.

1500 hrs, at the Hilton hotel, I walk in and notice the amount of dreadlocks and tattoos that mark the presence of the civil society, and we joke about the irony of having this press conference at the grand Regency Hotel, I found it funny, some did not. For some strange reason I revisited JM Kariuki’s threadbare story and this being the last place he was seen alive, after a cup of coffee or so.

Upstairs in the Tsavo room, the event was just about to begin, and Muthoni Wanyeki was calling the crowd to attention, a huge crowd here today, lots of TV and Radio crew, I hear some stations are going live, interesting, for a man whose last days here were pegged with death threats, back on the invitation of the Prime Minister.

I must say that the civil society has the most eloquent speakers in this country, one after the other they came to congratulate Mr. J or the ‘Anti-corruption Czar’ as the dailies like to call him, for being a brave man, the whistle blower who became a celebrity for uncovering the dark secret that Anglo leasing was, even though we may never really know what happened.

We already know more than we should anyway. We’re Kenyans.

I mean, we say,
“Hi how are you doing?”
When we really don’t care how that other person is doing.
“I’m very fine”
I lady replies with tears in her eyes at the funeral service of her husband, who died of a long illness bravely borne.

But hey, thank the heavens for a P.S who was brighter than Munyakei.

Munyakei was The Goldenberg blower who did not realize that only big fish can deal with the big fish, and when they get afraid, they release the little but lethal Piranhas while you can take off to wine and dine in British bliss,Munyakei could only afford to relocate to Mombasa where he embraced a new religion in his search for inner peace.

Munyakei should have known better ( ask Kwani’s Billy Kahora)

But we, Kenyans love to forget.

It’s easy to think you can get away with whistle blowing; here,but it is a crime in itself. Both Mr J and Munyakei know this as a fact.

So when Mr.J stood to speak, you could almost hear a pin drop in the hall, an eager audience waiting to listen to magic, and I hoped he would deliver.

He didn’t.

He can’t.

He is not the policy maker.

He gave Suggestions

Unfortunately,  I do not care about suggestions, I want solutions.

But he spoke well; Mr J.

He asked for Amnesty for economic crimes.

But our sophisticated elitist criminals know the right professionals who can immediately start doing the paper work on how much they will return to “the Kenyan people’

How about public accountability for crimes, your noble suggestions sir?

J, have you been away too long?

This is Kenya my boy, we follow the deny rule.

Deny. Deny. Deny.

Have you noticed that The Laico Regency stands tall next to that parking lot that just got a new layer of gravel on Loita Street?

Just asking, you might be interested.

Welcome home J.

I still wonder though if you are here on a visit, or to have a cup of tea with PM and the civil society, like John Kufuor did when he came here in January. Do tell….

Gladwell Otieno, step daughter to Mbugua the great then stood up to speak, the little dynamite had some tough words for the Kenyan government.

“A government that is not legit does not have the moral authority to tell the high school students not to go on strike” She said.
She even reminded Mr. J on his use of the word ‘dilemma’ “ because we use the word ‘crisis’ to describe the killings of one thousand Kenyans after the disputed elections.

Miss Otieno asked Mr. J to get over the euphoria of returning home, I second her.

Welcome home Mr. J.

I thought to introduce myself to you sir:

I am a mother, a Kenyan, waiting for lower inflation levels, so that with a thousand shillings, my monthly grocery will be taken care of, just like it was before 2007.

I am dreaming of a reduction to double digit on the Kenyan pumps, am a Gemini you see, I am allowed to dream, and you are very welcome to join me in my hopeless fantasies.

Mr. J, after 3 years in the UK, getting gifts of Kenyan tea, which you don’t even take, what are you bringing home?

You see, In 2002, I held on tight to my ID and Voters cards, I can still remember the precise emotions I went through, hoping and dreaming for a better home.

When I heard that you were coming back, I did not think you were a great man, or that your return meant something in the war against corruption, I just thought you missed home, and when R.O invited you over, you said yes, after all, nothing beats the Nyama Choma on Waiyaki way on a lazy Sunday Afternoon.

Welcome back J.

The Civil society knows that it has been vilified by the policy makers. That’s what you get when you decide to help the silent opposition to carry a metal chain along parliament road.

So does the civil society know that nothing is going to change, as long as the political caste is still the same? This class which seems to be designed in ‘that’ way?

Why does the civil still talk, big angry words that raise the dust and get me all encouraged and dreaming again?

I cannot answer that question.

Mr. J, welcome home.

But I will not listen to you. I will be a Kenyan.

I will sit back and wait for you to fight corruption, so that you can get exiled in Britain or whichever G8 country you choose to go to.

I will sit and wait for the prices of maize meal to come back to 65 shillings. I will watch the news and hope that you make some impact.

But I will not get lied to again.

I will be a Kenyan, mind my own business, pay my bills and sing the national Anthem.

Just don’t ask me to join you in the public fight against corruption.

I don’t have the strength to.

But Mr. J, welcome home.