Fish, Firewood and the Almighty Bullet

Good people. Howdy. Been gone for some time now. Kenyans needed time off after the last general elections and all the attendant fall-outs to be able to ‘heal’ and be ‘normal’ again. At least that is the excuse I proffer for my laziness in the past months.

So we have a new government, devolution and governors. Never mind the numerous commissions, parliament and senate in between. And the strikes, go-slows and stand-offs. Democracy must be thriving in Kenya, as should the associated wealth and health enjoyed by all. Long suffering Kenyans continue to do so, buoyed by their hope in a youthful and somewhat wasteful digital government, keen on consolidating their power and authority, even after their victory was upheld by a Supreme Court pressed for time. A nation deeply divided, and hungry. For jobs and good fortune. I must say our oil prospects are looking pretty, especially for this tax-weary nation, and revenue-starved administration. Maybe when we rid ourselves of Somali refugees and repossess cars in the possession of former political leaders, Kenya will bounce back and reclaim its rightful place among the most progressive, least corrupt nations. Maybe.

Back to my discourse. Majority of Kenyans actually and literally hunt and gather pretty much like their forefathers, to put food on the table. If one doesn’t catch a fish from the nearby river or lake, if one doesn’t collect enough twigs and dry leaves from the forest to cook their dinner or sell, if one doesn’t get on a bicycle or motorcycle and transport enough sweating bodies from one end of the village (or city – did any one of you ever imagine in their lifetime to see yellow-jacketed chaps weaving dangerously in and out of traffic on rickety motorcycles and bicycles and handcarts on Waiyaki Way or Mombasa Road carrying goods and passengers in 2013?) to another, if one doesn’t sell enough newspapers or advertisement space, shoes or shirts, bananas or phone chargers, airtime top ups or portraits, or painstakingly chip away at huge boulders to make enough concrete chips using tiny hammers, one simply perishes. In a country set on achieving middle-income status 3 or 4 general elections away??!?. 50 years later (thank goodness there is no accompanying KES 2.5 billion fete to celebrate this), why are majority of Kenyans barely surviving today? When we have invested so heavily in democracy? When our MP(igs) are the second if not highest paid legislators in the world? When we are promising to be the African Silicon Valley? When we have one of the most beautiful natural heritage and resources in the world?  When banks and mobile phone operators make billions of shillings in profits every year? Why are many Kenyans left scrimmaging for fish and firewood?

My theory is that we need an alternative model for managing public affairs. I further theorize that we have enough resources to ensure a dignified life for all Kenyans – basic infrastructure, health, education, access to water and all the components making up Vision2030. Democracy has failed Kenyans, and Africa for the last 50 years and will continue to do so. If  you think I am lying,  look up Singapore. We were exactly the same when we got independence from the Brits half a century ago. They are where they are, and we are where we are. They did not embrace democracy. Africa is the Democracy Gone Wrong poster campaign. I further postulate that a single bullet could have done far more for Kenya since 1963 than all this democracy has ever done and could ever do. If you had a bullet, in whose head would you have lodged it to make Kenya great again?



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