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Two buses owned by the same Modern Coast company crashed into each other recently.

In a bizarre ‘handshake’, two buses owned by the same company crashed into each other recently.

How this is possible is either a case of extreme witchcraft or a cursed system. Since I do not believe in witchcraft, it must be the fact that the bus firm uses kakistocracy to run its fleet.

Borrowed from a Kakistos - Greek for ‘bad’, kakistocracy simple means a system run by the worst, least qualified and most unscrupulous characters.

It is a state where being bad is a virtue; where being good is a vice.

We see it everyday. The best matatu driver on our roads is the one who breaks all speed limits, cuts the most corners and is willing to drive a bus whose brakes only hint at stopping.

To do so, this “best” driver must be high on something to reduce the guilt of driving a rickety bus and risking lives.

A good driver needs to be high on miraa to keep him awake enough to make as many trips as possible. 

All this is brought about by the fact that in Kenya greed comes first. We are wired to be selfish. For many of us, the end justifies the means. We care little about dignity and proper processes.

In Kenya, if a matatu gets to town fast, it is a good matatu. Never mind that it overlapped, rode on the pavement and nearly killed a pedestrian so that the people inside can have their greed met.

If you drive around Nairobi, you would be tempted to believe that the more rough and hostile you are as a driver, the more likely you are to get to your destination faster.

The average Kenyan driver hates to give way; hates to give pedestrians way.

Bullish motorists

The average Kenya motorist is a bully who deems the next car inferior to their own and as such, has no right of way.

Such is the Kenyan society.

The people who win political party nominations are the ones who can mobilise the most goons, intimidate the most voters and kidnap nomination papers somewhere between the party headquarters and electoral offices to change names.

The same persons are also most likely to win an election by lying, cheating, stealing, insulting and generally abusing anyone who stands in their way. In this way, we always ensure that the worst among us are the most powerful.

How I wish the kakistocracy ended with matatus and politicians!

The fact is that even in Kenyan business circles, the worst are the richest. The people paid the most money pay their workers the least.

The people who win the most number of security contracts pay their watchmen the least. The businessperson who cuts the most corners becomes the richest, those who owe more money to the poor are the most successful.

The rich are the meanest; the poor are the most generous. The richer a Kenyan is, the less likely they are to take care of their relatives.

Worst equals best

Truth be told, in Kenya only the worst become the best.

Look at the churches: The one with the most poor followers most probably has a leader putting up a mansion somewhere. This, while preaching that you do not need material wealth to go to heaven.

Kenya is a place where your money will buy the front seat at the church and your donation will get you anointed as the next leader of this or that.

If a Kenyan tells you they have integrity, they are also simultaneously telling you that they are broke.

Integrity is the best way to lose an election; the best way to be ignored. Integrity has no benefit, wickedness brings prosperity.

The bad get all the support they need. How else do they become leaders with such horrible records if they are not helped?

The question then remains, what can we do? How do we change our society?

The answer is simple: Common sense.

We can we start with simple habits. Habits like stopping at red lights. Red means stop for both cars and pedestrians.

It is irritating that a pedestrian will simply walk onto the road when the sign clearly indicates that they should stop. Such a person will not stop at a red light when they buy their own car. 

Keep left unless overtaking. It is only common sense. Why are you on the lane on the right while doing 20 kilometres per hour?

And can we learn to build beautiful things and habits? Is beauty such a foreign concept? No it’s not: Greed is, and lack of common sense.

Disorderly lives

Kakistocracy can only stop if we begin to lead orderly lives. Lives driven by principles and regard for others. We must begin to understand that a better society equals a better life for ourselves and everyone else.

If our society is wealthier we will all be wealthy. If our society is happier we will all be happy. To change Kenya we must all do better.

Our selfishness needs to die. We need to see our society as a shared resource with a shared destiny.

This, or we will keep having head on collisions on the streets and in our lives, all because we were busy looking out for ourselves; busy trying to be the baddest.

Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]


Kakistos Modern Coast Bichachi
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