The only bridge that Kenyans need to build

Call me naïve, but I have only just realised how badly we treat each other in this country.

Last I heard, God was supposed to be for us all, but what I know for sure is that we’re all looking out for ourselves and our cartels.

A few days ago, a boda boda rider went through a hospital gate to get his passenger into the emergency room, only to find his motorbike had been confiscated by hospital security, and shortly thereafter shot in the chest by a policeman.

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We live in a land where do-gooders are punished and killers go free.

A deejay who was shot by a Member of Parliament recently is still in the Intensive Care Unit, and his assailant is out on bail.

We live in a land where trust begets manipulation. Let a fellow Kenyan sense that you’re a bit unsure about the price of anything; be it a pair of ‘mitumba’ shoes, mint candy on the streets, or the cost of fixing a flat tyre and he’ll quote at least triple the amount.

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Last I heard, it was politicians who were the real thieves, but it turns out our fish started rotting from the tail, not the head.

Not that I’m excusing politicians, because, who does that? But if you think about, or even spend a day on the streets of any major Kenyan city, you very quickly begin to understand that we’ve settled into a pattern where it’s fine to mistreat and exploit each other, while going out of our way to defend and respect our elected representatives.

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We can talk trash about them all day, every day, but when it comes down to it, we hurt the ones closest to us, and uplift the ones oppressing us.

This is why the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is filling stadiums, while a governor charged with murder is in attendance.

Last I heard, the arc of justice is supposed to lean towards the people, but we live in a land where it is alleged judges collude with suspects to get them off the hook for conspiring to kill.

Talk about a man-eat-man society. It’s shameful, really. The clever thing would be to do away with the top-layer parasites altogether.

That would be the simple solution. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as it sounds because all this time we’ve been conditioned to think of our problems as being rooted in tribe and ethnicity, but our real problem is class.

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There is only one bridge that needs to be built in Kenya, and it is the bridge between those who hold all the capital, and the labourers they exploit.

They speak of inclusion and shared prosperity but you don’t have to attend a BBI rally to understand that is empty rhetoric.

With the sad state of our economy, failing healthcare system, new-bungled education curriculum, collapsing infrastructure and otherwise sketchy delivery of government services, what we don’t need is an expensive series of noisy rallies.

At this point, talk is cheap, and noise even cheaper. What we need is action. We need action because our problems are legion.

At the most basic level that’s why governments exist; to make life liveable for the poor sods who elect them. A government which can’t provide the basics can only be described as an abject failure.

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With that being said, we must be kinder to each other. We must find a way to treat ourselves and our compatriots with the same respect and dignity that we reserve for the so-called ‘waheshimiwa’.

As many wise people have said over the years, leadership doesn’t change you, it only reveals who you truly are.

Which can only mean that our leaders are a reflection of who we are, albeit the darker side of our consciousness.

And yes, there are many things we can blame for how we have turned out half a century after colonialism, but where we have reached (if I may use a Kenyan colloquialism), the only way out is through the mess.

This fish of ours that is rotting from the tail will only be salvaged if we begin to change our ways at the tail end.

It’s easy to blame the politicos but at the end of the day, if anything is going to change, we the people are going to be the ones to make it happen.

History has proven that changes in government, regimes, and parties are not enough.

For countries to transform and evolve, the people must embrace a new way of thinking, and being.

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security editor, The Conversation

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