And just like that, we now know about the Ngirita family - a simple family has been thrust into the limelight and they are now battling allegations of corruption. It seems all the Ngiritas - including the tots will spend a fair amount of time in the corridors of justice over the next couple of months.
This incident had me thinking about how our families sometimes set us up for destruction. There is this commonly held belief in our African culture where it is expected that once someone does well he or she must share the spoils with the rest of the family. It is expected that once the gods of favour shine upon you, you must then elevate your family to the next level. The downside of these unrealistic expectations is the hunger for more.
It all starts if and when one becomes that family member who gets that job, tender or opportunity, which brings in some cash. The mother is usually the first to start with expectations. She starts with an expectation of a wardrobe makeover - one that ensures she becomes the envy of her Chama friends and passé of women friends.
After the makeover, the favoured family member is expected to upgrade the family dwelling - if the parents lived in squalor and poverty they must be upgraded to better housing complete with the massive water tank, grade cows and the Cabro drive way- anything less is unacceptable.
Mothers press all manner of levers to get their children to deliver –they will soften say that the Lord has ordained that this one child must take care of the entire family as they borrow heavily from the story of Joseph in the Bible.
This then begins the journey for this one child (sometimes more than one child) to come up with the funds to change the family. The parents do not care where the money comes from- once they sniff the first whiff of cash they want more done, more given because after all how else will the villagers know?
By and large fathers are not as demanding as the mothers when it comes from benefiting from the largesse. Most of them want the occasional Stetson hat and some cash to buy the wizzes some drinks.
However, they too contribute to the pressure since they abdicate some of their responsibilities. Once fathers sense that one of their offspring has made it, they make a quick decision to dump all responsibility to him or her.
Suddenly, they lose the capability to pay fees for school going children, they lose the ability to read report forms and mete our discipline when necessary. So this favoured child becomes the quasi-parent expected to feed, fend and discipline his or her younger siblings. In some cases, these younger offspring are grateful and gracious that they can now access the best in life.
In fact some like the Ngiritas join the gravy train happy to benefit and contribute and enjoy the good fortune. In many other instances, others become very jealous and resent the power, glory and status that the moneyed offspring enjoys. They engage in all manner of tricks and tantrums to try and show their independence since they resent being beholden to their brother or sister.
The community is also not left behind- they also demand their pound of flesh when it comes to the newfound wealth. They do not seem to care about where the money came from- all they want is a slice of it.
The moment they spot a 4WD parked in the household, or notice the new water tank, they go ahead and include the favoured child’s name in the every church Harambee invite. The moment they hear that the favoured child has sent the parents on a holiday to the Holy Land they troop in with endless requests for some fees or medical bills.
The truth of the matter is that the favoured child begins to enjoy all this adulation and praise. They love it that they now have a name in the village and so they stop caring about flirting with law when it comes to getting the cash.
Who cares about pilfering the coffers, if the whole village is singing your praises? Sometimes the threat of prison pales in comparison to hearing your mother coo your praises about how generous you are and how “God is using you as his instrument.” So maybe parents and the society are adding fuel to this corruption menace.
Many parents and society members just care about the money and benefiting from the largesse and all children want is the adulation of the folks. Maybe in addition to polygraph tests, we need to ban fathers, mothers and siblings from making insane demands for lifestyle upgrades.