Kenyan Mind Set? Waiting For Milk From Bulls-Cloud that never bring rain
Waiting For Milk From Bulls: To wait for our servants turned masters to solve our obvious, glaring problems in our communities (problems that we have the ability to solve) is akin to waiting for a bull to provide you with milk. You can wait if you believe in Darwinism.
Every parent expect to constantly hear statements like these from their kids. “Dadi nataka pencil”, “Mami niko na njaa.” This is no surprise to any parent as the things our kids expect for us to provide or do for them, they have no means or ability to do for themselves. They’re simply helpless and thus completely dependent.
When it comes to solving problems for which we have the means and ability, these very same adults turn into begging kids. We all loudly or silently say, “Tunaomba serikali isaidie.” In this state of perennial mindset, which cuts across Kenyans of all walks of life, the government has become our parent. Baba and Mama to grown-ups who are not in anyway helpless or handicapped.
We tolerate sewer leakage and the stench thereof in front of our dwellings and faithfully pay the landlord service charge at the end of the month. We walk on piles of garbage by our gates, which we dumped the previous night under the cover of darkness. We wade through pools of contaminated water that regularly form in our neighborhoods when it rains, as we take our kids to hospital. Taking them there due to severe diarrhea and malaria acquired from the same pools (the reverse of the pool of Bethsaida.) We endure crowded level 5 and referral hospitals with no basic medicine and pacify ourselves that this is Kenya. We take our kids to under-equipped, under-staffed schools and proudly say, hii ni Kenya bana! We shiver under the terror of known criminals in our neighbourhoods, a few meters from the police post. We queue the whole day for a jerrycan of water, even when our rivers are overflowing. We have accepted the abnormal as normal under the brand, “HII NI KENYA BWANA!” What a shame!
We wholeheartedly endure all these and choose not to intervene (to look for solutions within ourselves,) simply because the government should or ought to take care of these problems among others. Its the ‘adults’ problem, these adults say.
In the meantime, we fuss, we toss, we fidget. Our morning tea tastes sweeter as we complain amongst ourselves. Our dinner would not be complete without it; the never ending discussion about what a few individuals we have made our leaders in this country should do. We argue and quarrel, occasionally banging the squeaky table as if they were sitting across from us. From dawn to dusk, we constantly quantify in clips and articles via WhatsApp what they have unethically tunneled to their bank accounts or out-rightly stolen. We rush home (sorry, we crawl home in traffic at rush hour) to be reminded for the twentieth time in a day by the newscasters, what we were talking about at work, if we are lucky to have any. We faint, when we think of what the stolen billions would have done to transform this country in a single shot; the opportunity cost of corruption.
We are baffled at the glaring blindness that is involved as our leaders tie China’s chains around our necks and that of our posterity. Asphyxiated and suffocated, paralysis ensues and we immediately quit thinking, for a moment. Overwhelmed by the frustration, we simply give up. We sleep it out and start all over again, when the sun rise. The rich fool is oblivious that this constant frustration to young, idle but educated minds is fuel waiting for a spark. When the frustration will hit critical mass, which is not a far off, there will be no enough prisons to quiet desperation of millions of young Kenyans with nothing to lose. My friend Kim told me when I was a teenager, a fence at the cliff is better than a hospital down there.
To be sure, we have every right to demand from the county and national servants who we have charged with the responsibilities to provide these services on schedule and on time. To reiterate, they are simply our servants who we seem to treat like our masters. But it’s not breaking news that we are not getting even basic services from these servants. Services for which we pay our taxes. So we turn into begging kids who expect our collective parents, to come and change our collective diapers.
To illustrate this mindset, have you ever visited an estate that has nice looking fortified modern houses like Membely in Ruiru or Ngoigwa in Thika? You get shocked because these well to do residential addresses have unpaved access roads such that when it rains roads become simply unpassable or turn into impassable rivers. I won’t be surprised if these residents are waiting for the government or some politician to have mercy on them and pave the road for them someday.
They will have to have many doses of patience as in my estimation, their wait might be a century. Karen doesn’t look leafy and lush because government maintains it, it’s the power of neighborhood associations (Co-operatives of sorts.) It looks lush and green because of trees and grass, the last I checked, those can pretty much grow anywhere, but they have to be planted first. Planted by human hands. The last I checked, humans that don’t live in Karen have hands too.
The residents in most places are well able to pave their roads, provide neighborhood security, dig communal boreholes, manage their sewer independent of our failed, greedy and irresponsible Baba and Mama. If everyone paved in front of their property at least with cabros, the entire neighborhood would instantly be all weather accessible.
Blaming people whose mind day and night is preoccupied with inventing shrewd, covert and legal methods of diverting and tunneling public money to their expanding empires ain’t gonna solve our dire problems. If thieves break into your house and steal your gas-cooker, you don’t starve yourself to death because you have no way of cooking. Even though it’s painful and traumatizing, you look for alternatives. You get a meko or dust off your old jiko. If you have the ability, you replace the gas-cooker with a new one the following day. Taking responsibility does not change what the thief did but you have to get on with life somehow. You keep your dignity regardless!!!
We elect wolves as shepherd and we seem to be surprised when the number of sheep dwindle each day. We elect hyenas to allocate our collective contributions for services appropriately and timely and we get surprised when they call it their own, instead. We keep our collective money-bag in strong rooms with no doors and we tell thieves not to steal it.
We have waited for them to solve our problems long enough. A cloud that never brings rain. By the way, we seem to think that we have to wait for five years to dislodge them from our public thrones, not realizing we can recall them anytime. They’re only exercising delegated authority. That authority can be withdrawn and reassigned to responsible individuals anytime. Have that in mind henceforth.
In the meantime, we are grown ups and have to choose to solve our problems even though it will cost us twice. Kitengela waited for a sewer line from our collective ‘Saviour’ since it’s establishment but none was built. They recently woke up to the realization that our collective Baba and Mama does not build structures hidden underground. They only build by debt, unnecessary expensive structures that are visible, enslaving us in the process. Structures that can provide good optics, political mileage and if possible opportunity to legally tunnel billions.
The ‘saviour’ is blind to the connection between proper sanitation and drainage and decongesting Kenyatta National Hospital. A sure investment in public health and infectious diseases prevention. Anyway, Kitengela formed a neighborhood association and are now doing their own sewer line, independent of the government. A co-operative of sorts.
What Kitengela has done is what every estate, neighbourhood and village should do in this country to solve their unique or location specific problems. Forget about the so called leaders (or misleaders as my friend calls them.) Solve your problems. Get together and solve your problems. Stop the mindset of competing and outdoing your neighbours, as if we’re teenagers but instead unite to solve your problems collectively. Your million dollar golden gate can never save you or solve insecurity in your neighborhood. Ironically, it’s actually the most insecure location in a fortified house.
Having a sewer tank or bio-digester in every house in a neighborhood is in aggregate more expensive than getting a sewer treatment tank or center for the whole neighborhood or division. Having shared boreholes instead of everyone sinking one also means shared cost. Selfishness is very costly to the individual. But we use these silly platforms to standout in our neighborhood.
There are counties endowed with numerous rivers, they should build micro power-plants and stop tolerating everyday blackouts. It’s amazing that our leaders are busy expanding power distribution infrastructure under the Rural Electrification Program, without commensurate power generation. Again, it’s visible for political mileage and legacy as our Kings and Queens brag about the statistical achievements, even though the bulbs in the village light up once a week.
These are just a few examples of what we can do when we unite. It will cost us twice for we pay for these services when we pay taxes. We will be acutely aware that we are doing what the government ought to have done. We will be wise and responsible for it; for our own sake and that of our kids. We will preserve our dignity, live safely and prevent hygiene diseases.
In choosing to be responsible (responding to their ability,) faith based organizations have built numerous schools and hospitals in this country. They didn’t embark to provide social amenities to complement what the government was doing, they were responding to negligence; gross negligence! Think, PCEA Kikuyu Mission Hospital, AIC Kijabe Mission Hospital, CITAM Schools, Daystar University, Catholic University, Nazarene University, Kenya Methodist University, ACK sponsored Primary and High Schools among others. These are just a few examples of responsible adults solving their problems independent of an irresponsible government or blind leaders. Seen in my economist’s lenses, these too are CO-OPERATIVES solving illiteracy and health issues in their communities, they just happens to be faith based.
To wait for our collective SERVANTS turned masters to solve our obvious, glaring problems in our communities (problems that we have ability to solve) is akin to waiting for a BULL to provide you with MILK. You can wait if you believe in Darwinism.
The writer, Robert Mwangi, holds an MBA in Finance and is the author of the book, Dollar Altar.