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Who and where is this so-called common mwananchi?

By Ferdinand Mwongela | Aug 12th 2013 | 2 min read

By Ferdinand Mwongela

I am a news junkie, sort of. I always make sure the news bulletin finds me settled in my chair — TV remote control in hand, flipping through channels faster than the pretty newscaster can read her autocue.

One thing you can hardly miss is a distraught citizen crying for ‘serikali iiingilie kati’ (appealing for Government to intervene) so much that even Serikali must be getting bored wherever she is.

The second most abused phrase will is ‘common mwananchi’. I would love to meet this common mwananchi. I mean, I am curious…what does he or she look like?

In my small brain, I have deduced that the common mwananchi must be some sort of species that should be all over the place. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Other people have insinuated that she is anyone on the streets.

I always muse. Could it be that chap who ignores traffic lights in a fuel guzzler? Or is she the person in a Probox loaded more than those Isuzu ‘Direct Injection’ trucks we used to covet back in the day as students? Is it the boda boda hustler who sold all he inherited from his father to buy the Sh60,000 motorbike that is more likely to kill him than make him rich? Is it the pedestrian dashing across Uhuru Highway hoping the driver of the afore mentioned guzzler is a good driver and will not smear him on the black tarmac? Or is it the lady seated at corner of Moi Avenue, two children in her lap and a begging bowl in her hands?

And when we say man on the street, which street are we talking about? Is it in Gigiri or Kayole?

What we have is a severe drought of definitions to help ease the understanding of terms we use. Right up there with men older than my father calling themselves ‘young turks’.

Maybe the common mwananchi is a beast we are yet to see, a rare animal that politicians wax lyrical about and donors fall over themselves to please. From the promises I have heard made to this individual in political campaigns and forums held in five star hotels, I would love to be him.

Water for the common mwananchi, security to the common mwananchi, affordable living standards for the common mwananchi, health for the common mwananchi. What is certain is he/she does not live within our borders.


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