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Jokes aside, Kenya is becoming a huge theatre of the absurd

By Henry Munene | July 30th 2016
Henry Munene

NAIROBI: One of the most confounding things about Kenya today is our sense of logic. Take for instance the case of that man, whom we have now nicknamed James Bond. Here is a man who caused a spectacle when he was captured on video hitching a ride on a chopper ferrying a coffin to a funeral. The video of the man clinging onto the landing skids of the chopper and dangling precariously from the skies – legs flailing with either fear or excitement - became for us a sensation of heroic proportions, hence the sobriquet, ‘James Bond’. Seriously? Okay, I don’t judge, but what would lead a 42-year-old father to steal a ride from a funeral chopper? Welcome to the Kenya of the year of our lord 2016.

The farce does not end with the trip. Barely a month after James Bond did his thing, and before even the case is over in court, people come out falling over one another to have a piece of James Bond. So this week, the man was treated to a real flight to the city where businessmen and even foundations accorded him hero’s treatment. He was even given some Sh300,000 to start a business. Okay, maybe it’s just me, but what is the connection between hitching a ride on a chopper and starting a business?

I do not begrudge James Bond the generosity that has been flowing in his direction like milk and honey, but where is this newfound generosity to rescue the hundreds, possibly thousands of our young men and women with great business ideas and no capital to convert them into income-generating businesses? If you found yourself laughing at the warped logic of a chopper stunt and business capital, then you are laughing at yourself. Aren’t we all ridiculously gullible especially given the way we are swayed by Jubilee, CORD and other outfits whose truth melts the moment ‘Baba’ or ‘Uhuruto’ decides for us? It is nothing short of ridiculous how our sense of truth swings, like the proverbial flag that flows with the wind, when our largely tribal parties decide for us. I have sat in social places and felt like bursting out in devilish laughter after listening to engineers, lawyers, top journalists and other people who should know better make monkeys of themselves just to prove that ‘Baba’ or Uhuruto were right. Guys, what happened to our education that a policy is either bad or good depending on what Baba said.

Even in the raging mystery over school fires, I have listened carefully to the suggestions by various ‘stakeholders’, and I cannot believe the absurdity therein. We are talking about a disaster where schools are being burnt while some students are learning and others in broad daylight. Yet, in our weird fixation with ethnic politics, which we pass off as coalition politics. According to Jubilee apparatchiks, schools are being burnt because the Opposition has taught students how to burn property. Now, this is ridiculously simplistic. The opposition, on its kneejerk part, believes it is high-handedness and wrong policies by the Jubilee government. I would not be surprised if this populist streak were extended to some demands for some Cabinet Secretary to resign, or the crowds would be called to the streets. Seriously, are we addressing the problem?

I went to school at the height of James Orengo and Mtumishi Njeru Kathangu-led mageuzi, when burning of tyres was the order of the day. Did we learn something and burn our schools? And did you say high-handedness? I went to a school we had nicknamed ‘Military Base’ headed by a man who took immense pride in his nickname, ‘The Undertaker.’ He was sadism personified, and yet we did not burn schools. And are leaders supposed to rationalise the strikes or provide solutions? I am willing to listen to someone who tells me the link between the imminent end to cheating in exams and the current wave of strikes. It is a plausible theory in a sea of political absurdity. I am tired of students who score an ‘A’ in KCSE but cannot write a simple term paper at university.

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