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Pyramid schemes are fuelled by Kenyans’ own greed, gullibility

By Clay Muganda | February 28th 2021


Kenyans are a hopeful people although theirs is a country where, to rephrase Alexander Pope, hope sinks eternal in everyone’s breast, and man can never be but always to be depressed.

While being hopeful helps Kenyans overcome daily challenges as they hope against hope that tomorrow would be a better day, it is also their undoing because they are greedy.

You can argue that they are not and economic circumstances push them to take certain decisions, but where else can people put all their life’s savings in a briefcase scheme run by shadowy figures in the hope that their money would be doubled overnight?

Only in Kenya, and as some 30,000-odd Kenyans found out on Thursday, things do not work that way — even after 16 years of shuffling along the corridors of justice in the hope of recovering their billions of shillings which disappeared into thin air.

Of course these people will move on, and have probably moved on and are engaging in more lucrative income-generating activities, but they will never forget the lessons from that scheme which broke families and lives.

But Kenyans are resilient, it has been said many times, just as many times as it has been said that Kenyans have lost faith in the governance institutions and would love to move to other countries where their fortunes will never go down the drain, overflowing or blocked.

The chance to migrate they might lack, but chances to turn their lives around are legion and that is where Kenyans’ ingenuity in being forever hopeful comes in.

See, a Kenyan can buy a second, third, fourth, fifth hand car manufactured a decade earlier, drive it recklessly for another decade, then put it up for sale at a higher price than the one they bought it at.

Now that is being hopeful. Very hopeful because there will always be another Kenyan who will buy it in the hope that after driving it recklessly for another decade, the car will fetch a higher price than what it was bought at.

I am tempted to add that this is common with Toyota car owners, but I would be digressing because they believe in resale value, and, well, it works for them.

While such a move can be characterised as being hopeful, in essence, it is greed, a trait that lives in every Kenyan’s breast so much so that they even vote for those who prove they are more greedy than the rest.

Kenyans elect people who represent their hopes and aspirations and the electors and the elected are not any different from each other when it comes to greed and corruption. The politicians vie with a single aim of not serving people, but stealing their taxes or their resources, to satisfy their greed — and while canvassing for votes, they take advantage of the voters’ greed.

The voters are never interested in knowing how candidates add value to their lives. They are interested in how many freebies are thrown their way without thinking of the consequences.

Thus, they end up electing the person who tries the most to satisfy their greed, and all of the time, this person is the most corrupt.

Corruption and greed feed off each other. Kenyans are corrupt because they are greedy and they easily fall prey to other greedy Kenyans and then scream at equally corrupt and greedy public officials when they are conned.

And on Thursday, the court sank the hopes of some Kenyans with such tendencies when it declared that the parental authority mandated with safe-guarding citizens’ interests, owed them nothing because their greed took the better of them.

Sixteen or seventeen, or even more years ago, many Kenyans fell for pyramid schemes, the investment firms which promised much returns after short periods.

But the returns were just pain and untold suffering, for, the people they trusted to turn them into billionaires, disappeared from the face of the earth, almost literally, and they were left with nothing to hold on to.

The State says it warned them, but greed blocked their ears, eyes, nay, brains, and they shunned the emissaries because they thought they wanted to distract them from a legal investment opportunity. This happens when there is no trust between the governed and the parental authority because of greed, and of course corruption.

Unbridled greed is in every nook and cranny of the Kenyan psyche and mistrust governs Kenyans’ daily transactions. Even as the State washes its hands off the matter, there is little doubt that the scammers were working in cahoots with public officials and politicians and that is why they stayed under the radar of State surveillance, and spirited away prospective investors’ monies.

It is a vicious cycle of greed, of corruption, of poor governance and it will take more than empty talk to steady the sinking ship that is Kenya considering that it is loaded with thieves and looters from all levels of the society. Talk about a country going down — being pulled in to an abyss by the greed of its own people.


-The writer is an editor at The Standard

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