BY HENRY MUNENE
As Greek myths of old go, the story of Sisyphus is a classic. Sisyphus was an amorous, incurably avaricious and crafty king with lots of blood on his hands. He had the cheek to trick even the gods, as he did when he chained Thanatos, the god of death.
His sleight-of-hand eventually earned him the punishment of forever rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill; after which it would roll downhill, only for Sisyphus to roll it uphill again, ad infinitum.
Today, the name Sisyphus may refer to unlucky chaps who never seem to have a snowball’s chance in hell of wriggling out of misfortune.
And the hardworking people of Kenya, those whose backs are forever bent in labour, seem to share in Sisyphean fate.
First, let me state from the outset that Kenya is changing.
As a young man, I recall going to bed late and tired every day, and then at the witching hour, just before cockcrow, there came the inimitable voice of my father.
“A man does not sleep like that!” he would thunder with mock disappointment, as I rubbed my eyes to ward off vestiges of sleep.
Now, though we cherish the so-instilled work ethic, I particularly pitied his generation’s thankless farming business. They made virtually nothing out of it, apart from repaying loans that some officials somewhere always embezzled. And with such phony debts being offset by the State, things may be looking up, albeit painfully slowly.
The problem with this slow growth is that it cannot match our exponential population growth and the fact that it is actually the poor who are multiplying fastest, in a country where more than 47 per cent of national wealth is controlled by less than 10 per cent of the population.
It helps little that many poor Kenyans live from hand to mouth, rely on ‘dirty’ energy and can hardly afford basic needs.
They call to mind what Sembene Ousmane calls God’s Bits of Wood.