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Magoha is telling you the truth, but you only listen to politicians

By Clay Muganda | January 31st 2021
Education CS Prof George Magoha [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

If ever there was a Cabinet Secretary that Kenyans dislike, it has to be Prof George Albert Omore Magoha of the Education docket. The professor of urological and transplant surgery always wants to give credence to Alexander Pope’s verse that a little learning is dangerous by subtly telling Kenyans they are not as knowledgeable as he is — and that rubs them the wrong way.

When Magoha maintains his silence, parents — especially those who do not have children, and mostly reside on social media sites — throw tantrums more than their real or imagined children do. When he speaks, there is a total meltdown. And rightfully so because the urologist does not speak to please, but to piss people off, and invoke anger, which is one resource Kenyans have in abundance due to several mistakes they made at the ballot.

In the past few days, Magoha made two pronouncements which, as usual, annoyed Kenyans. He talked about banning sanitisers in small bottles in schools, and mildly suggested that caning should be reintroduced in schools to curb indiscipline. His pronouncements were informed by recent cases of unrest and fires in schools. He feels the sanitisers are the likely accelerants whose use is fueled by indiscipline because the rod was spared, and now the spoiled child is spoiling everything in its way.

While getting back at Magoha is a constitutional right and the most logical thing to do because he is a public servant, who, at least on paper, is answerable to Kenyans, on the flip side, the resultant outrage of his statements reveals Kenyans’ propensity to get angry too fast and subsequent proclivity for violent acts. To write that Kenyans are angry because of the lackadaisical approach to education-related matters by Magoha, and by extension the government, is not just an understatement, but also an untruth. Kenyans are mad at everything, and everyone, and those speeches by Magoha are just but a small spark that ignites their fury.

This anger did not start with the closure of schools when the pandemic hit and subsequent pronouncements or silence by the government on the way forward. The anger has been building over the years, and it is still building, due to several missteps the politicians took, and are taking, in addressing matters of national importance. It is common knowledge that this anger will not die soon. The fires now burning in schools and other areas where there is insecurity will engulf the whole country, as it has happened before. Whether sanitisers in small bottles are banned in schools or caning is reintroduced, the fires will burn because the arsonists will not be high school learners.

They will be their guardians, parents, siblings — the lot that religiously listen to political noise, and cherish politicians’ hate-filled speeches, conspiracy theories and lies, and propagate the same on social media platforms or by word of mouth to their minions, friends and relatives.

When chaos erupted in 2008 after the 2007 elections, Kenya’s middling classes thought that disturbances were spontaneous, and blamed it on everything and everyone but themselves because they have selective amnesia and are always looking for scapegoats.

But as people regained their senses, and realised that cherishing political noises with underlying messages of violence is detrimental, it dawned upon them that the violence was a culmination of a plot continuously being hatched over several months, or years, through acerbic speeches by politicians.

Currently, such dangerous speeches are being made and Kenyans are listening to them, and cheering on their makers. They are crying about the economy, and rightfully so, but they are in this situation because they listened to political speeches at all levels of the hustings and did not think beyond the empty rhetoric whose underlying messages were not economic development, but hate-mongering.

The consequences of choosing people who shouted the loudest, or those who made the most noises, at all levels of devolution, are being felt now and Kenyans are angry at everything, and everyone but themselves for their poor choices.

The hate-mongering is going on but instead of looking for ways to stop it, Kenyans are obsessed with it; they love it and those who hurl the biggest invectives are hailed as heroes and cowards are those who ask for peaceful coexistence or that political temperatures need to cool down.

Kenyans are not just cheering on the sidelines, they are a part of the entourage. Blinded by the crumbs being wheeled their way, they are in a trance and cannot see that they are playing a big role in the build up to the chaos and violence that will engulf this country when electioneering officially starts.

Kenyans have a right to get mad at Magoha, and can even blame the violence in schools on his failure to listen to both teachers and parents. But they take time away from listening to political noises, and look inward, they will discover that together with their political leaders, they taught their children that hate-mongering laced with outrage is good, the subsequent violence is better and blaming someone else for your mistakes is the best.

-The writer is an editor at The Standard @mqhlay

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