The heart of this great nation is under stress

I used to take kickboxing lessons four days a week, and let me tell you, I learned how to throw a mean punch. My kicking game was strong too. It is often said that thick thighs save lives, but strong ones will take you out, no jokes.

For the first time in many years, I, the endomorph, gained some muscle definition. If you don’t know, an endomorph is a person whose body is soft and round with a high proportion of fat tissue.

So yeah, thanks mum, dad and the entire Luhya nation for that legacy. But thanks to boxing, I’m a ‘stronger’ person.

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 Well, I was for a moment of time before Christmas 2018 when holidays rolled into town with their endless supply of sugar, fat, and calories. That’s when I fell out of the ring and morphed into ‘msichana fupi round’.

But, you know what? I was fine with it because I knew how to reverse the damage.

I wish I had the same confidence about the state of our nation. The people who occupy various positions of leadership in Kenya have been on a binge for years, but we’re only now realising they are morbidly obese.

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And because we’re the organs that keep the body of government alive, we will continue to suffer by association. The heart of this nation is under severe stress trying to pump blood through arteries that are clogged by excess. Yet the body continues to eat.

Recurring push

I will put aside the indignities that we endure to access public services for one moment—and the manner in which our wellbeing is callously shoved to the side when there is money to be made—and focus on the attitude of the people in power.

The disrespect is thick. How else do you explain the recurring push to raise MP salaries, or the lukewarm, half-baked justification for taking food out of the mouths of ‘ordinary citizen’ to sustain a ridiculously high-calorie lifestyle?

How do you explain the proposed constitutional amendments just to create room for more gluttons in the power structure? Never mind that the document is viewed more as a series of suggestions than a supreme law.

How do you explain our de facto one-party state dispensation, or the Huduma Namba shenanigans?

It’s pure, unadulterated greed; that is what it is. And such great lust for the trappings of power that it means nothing to trample on an entire nation to achieve them.

The need to gorge on resources is too great. Any doctor would recommend radical gastric surgery to bring patient #254 back from the brink. The patient is walking around as if everything is fine but you never know when that next mouthful will tip the scale and trigger complete organ failure.

Various productions

Meanwhile, we remain fascinated with the words that proceed from the mouths of the obese. I recently watched a television host slug it out with a politician for more than an hour of live television.

The interview was tagged as exclusive but really, it was nothing that we haven’t heard before from the man in question.

We’ve played that record before, been to that play a few times, and even streamed that movie on a loop for months. Yet, broadcasters continue to provide a stage for the various productions within the predictable realm of political theatre.

One wonders for whose benefit the plays are staged because it’s certainly not for the viewing public.

When it comes to watching to the telenovelas in political circles, I fell out of the ring a long time ago. Talk is dirt cheap in this country and there is literally no value in giving folks a platform to spew the same old time after time.

We all know how the story ends. How words are caressed to seduce audiences to believe that relief is coming. It is tiring and repetitive. There must be a better way to hold leaders to account, if that is indeed the intention.

So yeah, last year just before Christmas I hang up my boxing gloves, and this year I put on my CrossFit trainers. This soft, round body of mine needs to get some manners.

My friend, I can’t be cat walking around with excess fat on my bones. It’s not a good look. Not for me, and not for the country. We need to shift some of our extra weight, and bring in a fresh crop of people.

People with the muscle to do the heavy lifting it will take to put Kenya back on track to health, wealth, prosperity and sustainable development for all.

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa

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