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See what we have done to our country

By - Peter Wanyonyi | November 26th 2012

By Peter Wanyonyi

Matters are so bad that in education, one of the most important of State services, no one trusts Kenyan papers anymore and with good reason.

‘Political colleges and universities’ are everywhere. It has become a tradition that political connections are what determine which college gets a charter to award degrees.

The result has been chaos in the education sector and Kenyans are voting with their feet, with thousands enrolling their children in overseas universities that still have a modicum of credibility.

The villager is no exception. She wants her children to have fat, serious degrees, so she has to send them abroad.


It is a complicated and expensive affair, one that involves selling off a few acres of land, perhaps a fundraiser or two, which involves calling a local MP who never picks his calls, and almost certainly a cleaning out of all her savings.

But that is just the beginning of her woes, because she then has to drag her progeny to Nairobi to get the requisite student visa. That is where the real nightmare begins.

Western embassies in Kenya are designed to scare, intimidate, and above all humiliate. They are so unwilling to countenance our faces that all appointments must be made by email — not even by telephone. They don’t  want to hear our voices either.

Having found someone to type and send the email begging for a visa appointment for her, the villager then has to gather the required documents. This is no small task, because Western embassies want to know everything about visa applicants, down to what they ate last night and why it was sour.

They want bank statements, which are meaningless when a few calls will get all of the villager’s friends to put their money in her account for several months just so the embassy is happy, and land title deeds. They might soon start asking for proof of virginity for unmarried applicants and video footage of the family cow.


The visa interview itself is even worse. Arriving early so as not to miss the appointed time — an offense that would almost draw capital punishment from the embassy — the villager is curtly whisked into a long visa queue by the Kenyan askaris posted outside the embassy who are more racist than their employers.

Some embassies are so squeamish about encountering Kenyans that they outsource visa processing to equally derisive companies from foreign countries. Shuffling along the queue, the villager encounters the ubiquitous visa touts — middlemen who can arrange a quick, favourable interview for a little cash. Nothing in Nairobi gets done without chai changing hands.

Eventually, the villager gets to the visa interview officer and is promptly told that her application was unsuccessful.

If only we hadn’t messed up our country so we wouldn’t have to go through all this humiliation!

We have a country foreigners die to visit, but from which every citizen wants to flee to go wash dishes in a freezing foreign land.


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