Thirst for good news in the forgotten frontiers conveys our ugly side of life

By Peter Kimani

Thirst for good news in the forgotten frontiers conveys our ugly side of life

The news of the discovery of water aquifer in Lotikipi in Turkana first reached me through the British TV network ITV. I instantly checked the calendar to confirm this was not an April Fools’ Day stunt.

Having confirmed it was indeed September, I then trawled for news on local outlets. There was nothing about the find. They all played catch-up the following day.

This is quite telling about our self-image, and the shifting perspectives of those looking at us from a distance. There is a lot more good news being delivered from outside than we are generating from within.

It is perfectly understandable. How can we get a different perspective about our evolving circumstances when we are unable to extricate ourselves from the mess on the city streets?

Why, City Hall has shifted without leaving a forwarding address, so that its many workers, including the ghost workers, now report for work on street corners, not to collect garbage, but to disperse it!  As if that’s not enough distraction, City Governor Evans Kidero is reporting for work to twanga those who dare ask him why such a huge workforce is loitering on the streets with not too moral intentions.

No need to dwell on the so-called gubernatorial slap that Kidero allegedly gave Nairobi Women’s Representative Rachel Shebesh, particularly because the man himself has no recollection of such an encounter.  Neither do I remember reading what everyone ought to have been saying: real men don’t beat women.

Beat Women

Such a statement could ignite, not quell the debate about what it means to be a man, and suck us into a whirlpool of gibberish, perhaps with the helpful reminder that in some communities, in the not too distant past, men beat women to display their affection.

Now, those are weighty issues and one must weigh in rather carefully, especially when the woman in question is particularly striking. I personally would have trouble locating a spot to hit Shebesh if the intention is to injure.

I once heard a female boxer express a similar predicament when faced with attractive opponents in the ring. She said she hits them gently so as not to occasion injuries that would leave scars and distort their good looks.

The gentle pugilist revealed a remarkable inner beauty. Her life in a violent sphere had not taken away her tenderness towards fellow humans, an attitude that’s rapidly diminishing in the universe we inhabit.

 That’s why a monumental discovery like this week’s find of water aquifer, reported to be plentiful enough to last our country several generations, or forever if well-managed, is diminished in our eyes; our desire is neither to produce nor preserve other humans.

Past Errors

If water is life, then the reserves’ discovery will be transformational to a region that has known strife without end. The flipside of this is that since we hardly ever feel the pain of others, we have lost the capacity to share in their joy.

That’s why such good news about our country seems to be attracting those beyond our borders. This is an important shift on several scores. It means those we blamed for undermining our progress no longer hold a gripe against us; it is we who are parodying their past errors to our own detriment.

It shows if others were adept at reflecting the perceived hopelessness about our existence, we have internalised those perceptions to amply reflect them.

That’s why the news of the decade from Lotikipi came through London, not Nairobi.