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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Is Kenya Headed In The Right Direction?

People living in Havana in the 1960s learnt how to live with the constant shrieking voice of some woman screaming "Fatherland or death" every time they picked up the phone, instead of the customary dial tone

What is really sickening about this question is the fact that anybody should be asking it at all. It should be so obvious that this should be a stupid question to ask.

Sadly a clever sustained campaign by the Kibaki administration to lie to the public (for self-preservation) has convinced many that Kenya is headed in the right direction and we just need to be patient.

Propaganda is a powerful thing. When you repeat something over and over again, (as this message that all we need is more time with the Kibaki administration and everything will be super) it soon becomes accepted truth. We are tol;d the Kibaki administration is much better than Moi’s and then we see the two holding frequent consultations and yesterday’s appointment of Moi is a message that is louder than words which tells Kenyans; Moi wasn’t all that bad.

People living in Havana in the 1960s learnt how to live with the shrieking voice of some woman screaming “Fatherland or death” every time they picked up the phone, instead of the customary dial tone. It worked because Cubans soon realized there were only two options, to flee the country or to comply. And that is why to date despite the best covert efforts of the very best in the world, Castro is still in power. Propaganda works when you repeat it over and over again in the media.

So many Kenyans today are being patient.

Patient as corruption in high places continues unabated. Patient as violence in the country escalates to new unprecedented levels. Patient as tribalism increases and is encouraged by our political class as a strategy for them to remain in power. Patient as the perpetrators of Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing play political chess to influence election results this year so that they will be free to do another Anglo Leasing and another Goldenberg.

Asking Kenyans to be patient now is akin to raping a woman or a man and telling them to be patient because things will soon get better.

The naked truth is that as long as Kenya is headed in the wrong direction, things will never, ever be the same again.

Meanwhile those Kenyans not doing well are being made to feel small and inadequate by being told that the economy is growing and that the only reason they are not doing well is because they are attending endless ODM rallies and activities rather than working hard. I ask working hard doing what?

I am an entrepreneur with vast experience and once even got involved in hawking activities. Believe me when I tell you that there was a time, not too long ago in our beloved motherland called Kenya when you could wake up in the morning with Kshs 10/- in your pocket, go out there and roast maize or something and have in your hands Kshs 200/- at the end of a day of hard work. Not anymore!! That is no longer possible today. Reason? Too many Kenyans are living on a desperate hand to mouth budget that is sinking them deeper into debt, let alone leaving them with any disposable income. And those are the lucky ones. The rest are having a serious problem putting food in their stomach regularly. What this means is that there are very few if any opportunities remaining for the common man to work hard and make good.

Many people reading this article may shake their heads in disbelief. One can after all invest in the stock exchange and you do not need too much money to start. If you are thinking in this direction then you have just delivered further evidence of a very dangerous situation that has developed and is rapidly escalating even as everybody ignores it. This is the widening gap between the vast majority of poor Kenyans and the rest of the country. The saddest thing is that the rest of Kenya can hardly understand the poor. I have met many Kenyans who believe that the poor in Kenya are poor because they are not very bright. Some say that there will always be poor people and nobody can do anything about it. NO!! That is not true.

Figures show that a vast majority of Kenyans, well over 70 per cent of the population live on less than a dollar a day. That is Kshs 65 (using current exchange rates). What many of the bureaucrats doing this research do not know is the fact that a vast majority of Kenyans do not handle Kshs 65 for months on end. But even with that kind of money, how long will it take you to raise Kshs 10,000 to purchase the minimum of 100 shares of stocks? Assuming that you starve yourself and eat nothing for a month, you will only have Kshs 1,950 and you'll have died of starvation.

Most of the people who are poor in Kenya today are poor mainly because of bad governance and corruption as well as a government that hardly understands what it means to be poor in Kenya today. In fact more privileged Kenyans have openly stated in this forum that Mathare residents got what they deserved in the massacre that happened during the crack down on Mungiki. That is what it means to be poor in Kenya today because those poor innocent victims do not live in Mathare out of choice. They would gladly prefer Muthaiga or Lavington where Mungiki crackdowns of the kind that happened in June this year never happened.

It is interesting that the terrorists who assembled the bomb that went off at the American embassy in Nairobi 1998 did their dirty work in the up market Runda estate. Therefore using the reasoning I have seen here, the police should have carried out a major crackdown in Runda estate to flash out terrorists. Well, it never happened. Never mind the fact that by the time the police were killing innocent people in Mathare the real Mungiki had already fled. Guess where the nearest best refuge is. Yep! Muthaiga. So why did the rape and shooting operation not extend to Muthaiga.

I guess we just need to patient; it will get there soon enough.

Civil Society Message On Mwai Kibaki And Grand Corruption

The Untold story of the Mathare massacre and where the bodies were dumped

Nasty men habits that women hate with a passion

What Grown Men Do When Their Wives Say, "Not tonight sweetie"


Anonymous said...

i am very annoyed at the reinstatement of mwiraria to the cabinet. i have alot of bitterness at the failure to contain corruption by the government also. in fact i think if i am to vote i will vote against kibaki, just because of returning old men who should have retired long time ago. But Chris, i must say one thing, very few people will ever take you seriously. you are extremely biased and rabid, always attacking what you dont like with some blind passion. How the hell do you expect Kibaki to stop the prices of things going up? instead of bringing nonsensical items on this blog why the devil cant yu do some comparative study with say other East African countries. i get annoyed when you put your sorry self in a position to judge everybody else. i know you are going to start yelling am a government agent but am just a kawaida guy. so what has happened to the maize sellers thet they all of a sudden they cant sell roast maize? are you in the name of all that is holy trying to say that they should be selling roast maize in the CBD? I dont agree with the president in many ways but this kind of negative bull crap you continue without offering some practical steps out of our problems is beginning to tire many of us. Are you really trying to tell us there is nothing the president has done right since he was elected? and pray tell me, how much can a guy do in 5 years to reverse the shyt the former president left? you would want us to believe you are faultless but we all know we have our flaws, dont be too harsh on others. supposing all former crooks were to be incarcerated in jail, how many of our "leaders" would be out? and do you know what would follow in short order?- genocide on a scale you can never imagine. tribal wars on a massive scale. some prudent leaders would prefer to forget that and try and move on. Chris, running a country is not like running your kitchen in the house. Kenyasn are getting tired of every tom, dick and chris churning out hate just because they have a forum. you and I have a long road in developing our country and please let us do so, whining has never helped anybody.

chris said...

Hi annonymous,

Thank you for your comment. I think your problem is that you read this blog with a certain prejudice because I have absolutely no problem with constructive criticism like what you have produced here albeit spiced with abusive language (which I really don't mind, for now.)

I can guess you must be in your fifties. If not, you have old thinking in you which was great for the 70s but will take our country nowhere in this age of mega-problems.

You also have no idea what life is like for the common man in Kenya today, but that is not a crime, if you are not in power.

This is the reason why I have my doubts whether you are capable of understanding the situation facing many small-scale Kenyan traders who can't make ends meet because we don't have enough people with any disposable income. i.e. too many people in our beloved country are living from hand to mouth.

President Kibaki has done a lot but not only is it too little too late but it is taking the country in the wrong direction. The right direction in my view is starting off with polivies that are designed to put the economy in the hands of the common man so to speak (Not a few major investors mainly from one community).

It is important that the engine of the economy and of growth are in the hands of ordinary Kenyans. This means having creating of jobs as the top agenda which should be refelcted in everything the government does.

It will also require many "thinking out of the box" ideas that the older generation cannot handle, let alone think up. For instance establishing work for higher education farma and work for food schemes countrywide. We urgently need to give a helping hand to our brothers who are doing badly thanx to mega corruption deals like Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing that have devalued the currency overnight and caused great suffering across the nation.

We need a government policy where a certain percentage of government contracts have to be given to small scale businesses and ways found to finance them by payiong 50% upfront. (You will be surpriosed poor people are much more honest than rich folks).

We need to remove all VAT and other taxes from basic food stuffs sold in slums and other low income areas.

We need a very intensive countrywide football program that would be very easy to finance where soccer talent can be nurtured and developed even as the youths there go through a specioal education program to prepare them for life after their professional careers. I personally know Kenyans who are goos agents and can help us sell this talent to big soccer clubs in the West, even as we develop the game locally. There should also be a very actiove program to keep the youth busy so that less of them end up in crime as is the case today.

We also need a truth and reconciliation commission to deal with our dark past and to send a clear message to any would-be-thioeves of the future that corruption may make you rich in the short term but in the long term it does not pay.

Our foreign missions need to start actively assisting in helping place qualified Kenyans in openings available at their stations and also promoting trade much more aggressively.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Please keep reading this blog and we will unveil more of these ideas as we head to the mother of all general elections.

Clearly the country cannot move in that direction when our grtandfathers are in charge of government.

Or what do you think, my brother?


P.S. Just a quick question or two;

When was the last time you used a pit latrine? This is a basic test that helps me understanmd where people are coming from.

Phil said...

I dont know Chris, but I am judging Kibaki on the basis of the fact economic life in Kenya is worse than in Somalia. All social indicators prove this! Am also judging him on the basis of the pre-election pledges he issued in 2002 and what he has achieved so far.

On the question of controlling prices, Kibaki and his government can put in place many measures that can control and/or reduce inflation that has seen prices of basic commodities double (some triple) since 2002.

His government is notorious for writting off loans of coffee and pyrethrum farmers (like Kimunya did in his last budget). How about maize and sugar farmers? How about non collection of taxes at all from known drug farmers (Miraa and bhang) who rake in millions of dollars every week with exports from JKIA each day? We all know which areas in Kenya produce which 'cash' crops, and from the above illustration you can see farmers from which areas are being frustrated by the central government. I can assure anon that this wont last for long.

Poverty is far more apparent now than it was in Moi's 24 year rule. Kibaki has done more damage in just 5 years. He further takes the country for a ride by factoring additional sectors in calculating the GDP, hence achieving an additional 3% bonus on economic growth rate. These machinations are well known.

Thanks but NO to Kibaki.


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