“We do not want to borrow anymore” is as important as “We are tired of eating and do not want it anymore.”
“We do not want to live beyond our means” is as important as “We do not want to bring our citizens to their knees.” As it is now, the voice of Kenya not borrowing is loud but the voice of leaders not eating has no evangelists.
Some have noticed that morality in Kenya is a lonely and vulnerable voice in the wilderness and have moved to take advantage by attacking Chapter 6 of the constitution with the aim of knocking down some of its teeth. This is an effort to lower Kenya’s stated moral standards – which is a shame.
Harry Belafonte’s classic “There’s a hole in the bucket” has a back and forth of a problem-based man and a solution-based woman – Liza. To the hole in the bucket, Liza responds “Fix it, dear Henry.” One lesson from the song is that you may have a steady supply of water, but if the distribution system is porous, you will always have a problem. When you put more money in an already torn pocket, the pocket hole is likely to enlarge resulting in greater losses than before. As Linus Kaikai would say, “For Kenya’s corrupt, the future looks bright!”
Some promote the intensity of their causes by saying “The future is green” and others “The future is female.” With a gaping hole in the bucket and with a government that only talks about more water, Kenyans can say with a level of correctness that “The future is robbed.”
Those with new wine have to contend with old skins and those with new skins have to contend with a market flooded with old wine. A closer look at Kenya’s wines and skins discerns that we have a government whose newness is only a claim. The business has never been more usual! We have an old guard purporting to be new. Both its wine and skins are old.
The pleading language is gone. The commanding language is now on for all. This is confusing to the voters. The wheelbarrow inspired thoughts of elevation. Now it represents locally availed equipment that takes voters’ money away to an untraceable destination. A symbol of emancipation now turned into a symbol of impoverishment.
To the extent that money answers all things, taking away money from the people is taking away some of their answers! The government should work more on its “Pesa mfukoni” (more money in the pocket) promise without making some feel that their pay slips are being attacked. It sends out a wrong message to have an efficient, equipped and aggressive tax-collecting system with no matching funds oversight authority. Intense collection – relaxed care-taking.
When we behold the greed that has grabbed and grounded this country, it is easy to affirm money as the root of all evil. It is said that the customer is king but in Kenya, corruption is king. Selflessness is a myth. The question “What is in it for me” is the real engine driver for projects. The citizens meant to benefit from the project are a dim concern. Tragically, “What is in it for me” ends up being all of it, plunging expectant tax-paying, promise-redeeming Kenyans into darkness without any light.
Just as man cannot live on bread alone, a country cannot be built by money alone. There must be other variables in the progress equation – some with even greater weight than money. As things are now, money is equated with prosperity. The message being propagated is that more money will thrust us into the Singaporean world. This is a false teaching because it is in the open that the progressed countries have a strong moral foundation on which the rest of their prosperity rests. Building a country on money is like building a house on quicksand.
The values dimension only makes a short touristic appearance in written speeches – it has no day-to-day champion. An engagement in Ethics is considered a spoiler because the leaders want to continue unfettered. Ethics interrogates the money pangs and such questions are unwanted. But the fact is that money by itself can backfire, even lead to a deterioration where people long for the days when they were less monied.
National ideals tell of what a country strives for. They give a country a “mother” status. A country is called a “motherland” not just with a womb understanding of a geographical place of birth but also critically as a place that carries for its people a mother‘s life vision. It is the resultant ideals that give a country its soul. Kenya’s ideals are unknown. The point of Kenya as a country is untold. We are a busy but soulless country. Like the Israelites and their demand for a king, we want to be rich so that we become like other countries. Our efficient copying skills are taking us into a future where we will never lead. Those who mimic have to wait until the original act is staged - they then follow.
If you cannot serve both God and Mammon, you must choose your way. One choice is serving God and placing money as a tool for service. The other is making money your god and relegating the Creator God to a place where His commandments and moral prescriptions do not stand in the way of your money hunt. The spirituality of Kenyans is such that they love both God and money. Their practical living does not choose between the two, rather it uses one to get the other – God helps them get money. That is why the prevalent form of Christianity in Kenya is transactional spirituality – where money is high on the faith “deal.”
As a dangerously religious country, we must ask ourselves, “Where does our help come from?” The Good News is that God is using Okiya Omtatah to move mountains. His prayer that the sun stands still has been answered. By him, God has delayed the taxation affliction people could have suffered in July. By him God has removed the sting in the opposition’s maandamano, preserving the precious working days of many Kenyans. Please remember to pray for Omtatah. By him we read a writing on the wall – “There is another way.”
The writer is a PCEA Theologian and Founder of the Institute of Ethics and Youth Affairs.
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