Surprised. That word should be included in Kenya’s national anthem and in all forms of communication from the government because Kenyans just love getting surprised at the evil ways of their politicians and the State at large.
Every day, Kenyans get surprised at things and words the government or elected leaders throw at them. No day passes without Kenyans getting shocked at the way they are governed — it has become so commonplace it seems their getting surprised is a mechanism of coping with their mistakes.
This week, Kenyans got surprised at several actions and utterances of politicians and, like people who had just woken up from pandemic-induced slumber, they could not understand how their elected politicians could say and do such things.
First, there was the conference on coronavirus where speaker after speaker gave a blow-by-blow account of the measures their respective sectors or institutions had put in place to curb the spread of the virus or mitigate its effects on the populace and the economy. Kenyans were surprised at either how little or how much the State had done. It had scored some hits, some said, considering that Kenya was not the only country caught flat-footed by the virus that has laid to waste resources of even the biggest economies. By and large though, the State was seen to have short-changed Kenyans, and the people engaged in Kenya’s latest pastime of needlessly getting enraged outnumbered those who were happy with measures that had been taken.
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But why were Kenyans surprised, you may ask, at the utterances of State operatives, including the Head of State? The government failing to manage the pandemic should not be surprising because the public health system has been in a state of decay for ages, and after all, isn’t letting Kenyans down the main job description of the government!
Still on coronavirus-related matters, the Auditor General revealed the amount, in billions of shillings, the taxpayers will lose due to deliberate bungling by honchos of a State agency charged with acquiring medical equipment. Surprisingly, the few Kenyans who had not trained their ears towards certain suburbs where political excitement was being peddled and wrongfully called empowerment, got shocked and of course annoyed. It beats logic to get surprised that hand-picked State operatives deliberately bungle initiatives paid for by taxpayers, resulting in billions of shillings getting in to individuals’ pockets or bank accounts.
Beats logic because the elected leaders Kenyans so love that they can sell their parents for, have normalised thievery and wastage of public resources, and Kenyans ensure that the biggest thieves of all time, garner the highest number of votes. Surprisingly, when they are throwing crumbs at voters during the election cycle — which is pretty much daily — the latter get surprised at the former’s magnanimity, and swallow their lies that they will improve the economy, and subsequently, lives.
But when lives are not changed, Kenyans get surprised, and swear how they will elect better human beings. On polling day, they chose thieves who run and thrive in the country’s bandit economy.
And it came to pass during the week too, that State officers thought to have deliberately bungled the counties’ medical equipment leasing scheme, were declared blameless by a bunch of elected leaders. Of course Kenyans got surprised at the decision by 47 young and old thieves they elected to the Senate to protect devolution.
In that case too, billions of shillings ended up in the pockets of politically connected persons even as tax payers were billed hundreds of thousands of shillings for items that ordinarily cost a few hundreds a piece
Ideally, Kenyans keep getting shocked as a coping mechanism. They get surprised and move on. They have not just short memories but spurts of thought processes — since they have been numbed into accepting mediocrity and lack the wherewithal of connecting the dots and thinking in a straight or a conjoined line. Their thoughts lack continuity.
Everything is an episode. Even their anger at the wicked ways of the politicians is episodic and politicians take advantage of that to corrupt their minds, disrupt their ideas and distract them from their civic duties .
Kenyans have no faith in the changes they desire and are complicit in being codified in to stratagems of ethnicity that confine them in a vicious cycle of poverty so much so that they gleefully accept handouts — acquired using money stolen from them — and consider the thieves their saviours.
They are promised the best and given the worst of everything, and for that, they genuflect and sing paeans — but still get surprised when public services are not delivered. Ideally, Kenyans do not need to change their politicians. They just need to change their collective mindset of loving and embracing mediocrity — and must stop getting surprised at their poor choices.?
- The writer is an editor at The Standard. Twitter: @mqhlay