Most Kenyans believe that other Kenyans are making too much money! There is a cry right now to slash the wage bill. The president made a speach that sounded very logical to the common man. His philosophy is that people should not make as much as they are making! Full Stop! Is he right? Let me go back to my village and speak to you from Kijabe.
But before I speak to you like a diaspora who comes often to the republic, let me talk on behalf of my friends in Nyayo Estate! We met at their bus stop at the Ambassador Hotel. We got into the bus and for the three of us it cost 250Ksh. That means for each one of the members of the household who have to travel to Nairobi by bus, it cost them 150 Ksh. Per Day. The total comes to 4,500Ksh. a month each. On the way, at the corner opposite Kenya Airways headquarters, there is a Tuskys. We decide to stop. We get 3 packs of flesh milk at a cost of 50 Ksh. each, and 3 packs of Mala for 100Ksh. each. Then we get unga, 1 kilo of rice, some sukuma wiki, and some needs: Needs not wants. At the counter, the lady of the house gets her women purse and coofs 3,800 Ksh. This is for essentials that will need to be re-stocked in 2 days time. Remember we have not bought meat.
We enter into their 3 bedroom apartment which cost them 40,000Ksh a month. The water tank is full today therefore they do not have to buy water. Their consumption is helped by the fact that they do not have young children. I look outside and see young kids running around. I wonder how much it cost their families to bring them up in this Jamhuri. I bet they have to come up with a bill of over 100,000 Ksh. a year for each child. If you have 3 children, you are talking about 300, 000Ksh. a year. if you have a child in the many universities, “mami”!
I figure that my friends who have no children in school need to earn 200,000Ksh. Minimum to live in this modest apartment. But they don’t. Many Kenyans join saccos and take loans! Very few Kenyans earn that much money. Yet the cost of living in Kenya has gone to the moon. No! It is in Mars!
I spoke to my village philosopher on the way to Nairobi. I gave him a ride, he does not own a car: 99% of Kenyans do not own cars. I spoke of the great things Kibaki did. “I really think Kibaki did a good job. You should see the Thika super highway.” I spoke confidently like a true Kenyan Diaspora. “For those who have a car, and it has petroli, it is wonderfull. But for 99% of us, it is wasted money.” I could not believe such negativity. I made it clear to him that Kenya was developing and the roads are a sign of this. He looked at me and signed. I could tell we were analysing the STATE from a diferent perspective. “How many people travel in a matatu or bus on these roads but sleep hungry. How many young people travel on these roads and they have no Jobs. How many women ride on matatus using these roads and cannot afford medical care for thier children. How many people go day in and day out to an office only to earn enough to almost eat and almost survive? The roads reflect China’s dominance.” He concluded.
I thought about it and though I had given the President a high five on the speech, the villager instructed me that all this talk about wage bill was a bunch of hot air! Talk, talk, talk for five years. Then, according to him, the Thika Super Highway will have craters. Then again there will be talk about cutting cost to fix them. In the mean time, no one is talking about creating manufacturing to employ many young people. They will pay taxes and the exported goods will earn the government the needed revenue to meet its needs. That is if the governors vehicles have not been dented by the craters to need new ones.
Teddy Njoroge kamau (PhD).
Director of International Outreach and Development. LeagueKenya.org.