The Kenyan Passivity: An Ode to The Sameness of The Summer of 69

It’s been a while since my last post. The one about Fish, Firewood & The Almighty Bullet. Believe me when I say it hasn’t been because of lack of ideas for content. Infact, the converse could not be more true. Barely can one collect oneself to react to an issue or situation before another completely knocks it out of contention for the World’s Dumbest trophy. And so on and so forth. Ad nauseum. Well, some things have pretty much remained the same. Actually, Kenya’s biggest issue, remains, unsurprisingly, sameness. Pun intended. 

If you could stretch your imagination 50 years ago, when all our forefathers (for lack of a better generational terminology or nomenclature, let’s just say Ohuru’s Dad, Agwambo’s Dad and Baba Jimmy’s lot) wanted to do was obliterate Poverty, Ignorance and Disease, other than social media (especially Twirra), the EPL, terrorism, LGBT rights, MPesa and the much vaunted Thika SuperHighway, all of which are foreign technocultural supremacy emblems, what else has significantly changed in Kenya? Or changed Kenya?

History implores us to examine our past in order to get a grip of our present and somehow influence a better future, ostensibly for our kids and their kids. Fair enough. So let’s take a stroll down Kenya’s memory lane. The Brits show up, discover mountains and rivers, jack our style and lord it over us until 1962 thereabouts, and we kick them out. Or so we think. In reality, we only inherited Christianity (the bane of our existence), this thing they call Democracy (which kills more Africans annually than HIV, TB, malaria, cancer, road and boat accidents, wildlife, alcohol, drought and disease combined), Education (ideally an assembly line which churns out uniform-minded-all-we-wanna-do-is-get-employed-and-pay-taxes labor force) and Tribalism (etched along their philosophy of how to divide-and-rule natives). And last but not least. Shiiiit. I mean it. Last and least. The Police Force or Service or whatever the in-between force and service outfit there is. The police force of the colonial era was this tunic-wearing, baton-swinging, khaki-shorts and socks adorned, swagger-stick carrying native who was supposed to control and suppress the other natives. 

As Bryan Adams was making The Summer of 69 famous, back home, Kenyatta’s KANU and Jaramogi’s KPU was making history of their own. Which would define Kenya’s politics, and Kenyans’ lives for decades to come. 45 years later to that day, modern day Kenya is still reeling from the Summer of 69. And grappling with realities for which it is ill-prepared, in part due to the Brit’s patronage and inheritance, and in part due to  Kenyan passivity. Kenyan gullibility. Kenyan optimism. Kenyan ability to Accept and Move On. Kenyan sameness, in mien, character and attitude, honed in the universal school of 8-4-4 system of education.

45 years to that summer, Poverty, Ignorance and Disease still courts us, and mocks us. There could be only one or two dialysis machines in all of the district hospitals in Kenya. The average Kenyan still survives on a coupla shillings a day. Half as many Kenyans may not know how to read and write. Sameness.

45 years to that summer, Christianity still uplifts us, and is the single most progressive industry (the proliferation of churches and ministries far outstrips that of industries, and still don’t attract taxes). Archbishops, prophets, reverends, Dr Pastors and Pesas, Range Rovers and BMWs, Mercedes Benzes and Tithes, Glory and Mansions, Panda Mbegu and Mpesa to the number appearing at the bottom of your screens.Sameness.

45 years to that summer, tribalism still defines and rules us. Hashtags like #WeAreOne, #TyrannyOfNumbers, #LastName, #EthnicityinKenya still abound on Twirra, indicative of how pervasive and divisive the cancer is even among the so-called elite, educated, exposed sub groups and how deeply ingrained and entrenched it must be among the voting mass of rural, illiterate holloi polloi. Sameness.

45 years to that summer, democracy continues to entrench the ruling elite deeper into the fiber of society, and widen inequality and divisions between the haves and the have-nots and claim lives, hopes, dreams and futures of its foot-soldiers, the so-called Walking Dead. Sameness. 45 years to that summer, the education system continues to churn out too many, ill-equipped-ill-mannered-awkward-can’t-write-CV’s-or-application-letters-let’s-drink-and-party-till-we-drop-OMGing-EPL-addicts for graduates who can’t invent or create.

And 45 years to the summer, other than the Khaki shorts and socks, the Kenyan police is as emblematic of the colonial era as ever. In dress, character, raison d’etre and modus operandi (round up the natives and beat them to pulp until they snitch on the MauMau). They may be the only police service in the world that still carries those ridiculous swagger sticks. What on God’s good earth are those for!?! From cops happily sitting on IEDs under trees in Dadaab, to boarding suspicious mobile vehicles carrying potential terrorist suspects driving down the wrong side of highways and getting blown up, terrorism is a new found global threat that must be fought with brains more than brawn. Sameness.

And finally. The peace-loving, placard-waving, singing-and-dancing-to-politicians hysterical masses that are the voting public. Passive and impervious. Oblivious to the cause of their suffering. The incessant fertilizer and drugs shortage. The high cost of tilling an acre. The dismal price millers pay for a bag of maize. The street lights that never work. The jobs that are never there. The cost of bread and sugar. The recurrent drought and piles of bodies on the Kenyan roads. The insensitivity of Parliament and the devolved rapacious units. The indignity of poverty and vacuous statements of affirmations from the Executive. Passivity. Ugali mezani tu. Sameness.

In totally unrelated news, my 11 year old daughter has joined FaceBook.


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