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Hustler narrative is deceptive and many things don’t add up

By Daisy Maritim Maina | October 11th 2020

Verily I say unto the followers of the ‘Hustler’ Rhetoric: just as the biblical sheep at the shearers is dumb, so are you. And I do not mean dumb in the abusive way for which the Tanga Tanga mouthpieces has become notorious. I mean silent.

Dear Hustler Followers, you are being shorn roughly and you are pretending to enjoy it. You are ignoring the things that do not add up. You are mute in the face of obvious deception.

Any keen and objective interrogation of the Hustler Narrative exposes it as a political heist: it bears all the hallmarks.

The first hallmark is that of danger. A heist is always planned with the knowledge that there will be injuries and sometimes even fatalities. The ‘Hustler Heist’ promises both, because it is an obvious ‘Us versus Them’ narrative

Although it is premised on the solid reasoning that the poor can, should, and must lift themselves out of poverty, a malicious nuance contaminates it. There is an aggressive, accusatory undercurrent toward the ‘Other Kenyans’. These ‘Other Kenyans’ are those either prosperous, doing well for themselves, or making honest efforts to build wealth. 

And of course the most vilified ‘Other Kenyan’ is the one whose parents began the generation of wealth. The wickedness in this narrative is that it claims to only direct the hostility towards the ‘elite ruling class’.

But in truth, the followers of this logic will not stop there.  The everyday Kenyan who has ‘made it’, will be targeted in this fomenting class war.  

In any situation anywhere in the world, ‘othering’ is dangerous. But in a country like ours that is already ethnically fragmented, layering class conflict on top of the existing ethnic struggles is irresponsible. It is as dangerous as tipping petroleum over a small fire and expecting it not to rage.

At this rate, the spectrum of ethnic tension will expand by election time. There will not only be inter-ethnic conflict based on tribe, but also intra-ethnic conflict based on class. 

It means that eventually, only the Kenyans that belong to the same tribe and class can be in true political solidarity.  The second hallmark is that of mystery. Heists, especially grand ones are usually shrouded in ambiguity. Not everyone has a clear picture of the entire operation.

In the case of the hustler heist, not even the leader himself has thought it through. Let us be frank. The hustler narrative is not a political ideology. It is patchwork thinking put together with the intention of getting William Ruto into State House. It is not a thought-through philosophy meant to provide a true principle of organisation.

It was put together haphazardly, making it incoherent and confusing even to its members. For instance, the hustler logic has the principles of a self-help group but without a Business Development Support Plan.

It has all the signs of a Hand Out scheme that lacks the sustainability, or the futuristic outlook of an Employment or Enterprise creation programme. That is why it has to be mysterious.

Any attempts at properly articulating the hustler narrative, or putting it in writing will expose its shortcomings. The same way a pyramid scheme conceals its true nature behind razzmatazz, the hustler heist is using smoke and mirrors, wheelbarrows, and mkokotenis.

The third hallmark is that every heist has the ‘exploiter’ and the ‘exploited’. Because of the danger that is typical of heists, the masterminds will never put themselves directly in harm’s way. The leader will spew rhetoric from a distant podium or from the sunroof of his car and return home to safety.  Meanwhile, the followers will engage in ferocious fights with their neighbours who don’t subscribe to the ‘hustler’ narrative.

Finally, the fourth hallmark is that heists generally blur the lines between the right and wrong, legal and unlawful, moral, and unethical.

The hustler narrative ignores some glaring gaps that defy basic reasoning and economics. The first being the euphoric promise of instantaneous prosperity. It is an obvious fact that get rich quick messaging is based on shortcuts, but it would appear that this is what the hustler narrative encourages and celebrates. 

Secondly, the leader of the movement of poor hustlers is a man known to be fabulously wealthy. This would be well and good if he were a noted industrialist who has been manufacturing fast-moving commodities for decades or a successful capitalist in a known sector.

But as it stands, neither wheelbarrow nor handcart, washing machine nor hairdryer can be used to explain the financial fortunes of the Hustler in Chief

- The writer is a PhD candidate at SMC University. [email protected]

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