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They're all eating, grab a plate and join

By Kipkoech Tanui | October 23rd 2015

NAIROBI: Like me, you must have long lost count of the things a shilling, not even ten cents, can no longer buy in our kiosks. This is not just because the cost of living has shot through the roof, but even beggars sneer at you when you give them coins.
Economists argue the cost of living will always go up, just like the cost of production. They will also tell you that many other factors internationally are at play and that is why the dollar is gaining ground against our shilling.

Still others will point out that so long as we import almost everything, including eggs and semen for our cows, a situation made worse by export of non-value-added raw materials, the dollar will always elude us.
But the economists will also tell you that you must match your aspiration or consumption, with your productivity. In other words, you can only wine and dine on the surplus. So before you start carousing, you must be sure you are either not feasting on the capital or eroding your savings for the next venture.

And not just that, you must also ensure you balance the 'eating' and 'production' of whatever you are doing; not just eating from one end and emitting from the other like the swarm of locusts and armyworms that at times invade our farms in their millions.

The foolish businessman or farmer will on the other hand make three drastic and costly mistakes: One, trust that the rain will always come in time and in generous doses. Second, that the market will always be there with little competition for his products.

Three, that neither weevils nor thieving staff will nibble away his profits. Any changes to the assurance of the three cornerstones will be costly.

If the farmer is even more foolish, as the harvest is in the farm, he will make three more costly errors of judgment for short-term gain. He will forget the loans he is supposed to pay from the produce before skimming off his share.

He will also have a premature party in lieu of the anticipated bumper harvest. He will also forget he needs to save and finance the next ploughing and planting season.

Finally, the farmer will bend a rule here and there, by allowing harvest of the grains while still green for roasting, and donating to neighbours and friends, to the extent that when the final harvesting and stocking is done, he will have reduced his earnings from the year's crop by over a half.

The story we are sharing ladies and gentlemen is perfectly a Kenyan story. We are at a crossroads as a nation and it won't help much what the President thinks of the media or journalists. Probably the media is a nuisance because it points out these harsh realities and that is why the ruling elite, if they had their way, would shut them down.

Truth is that there is evidence of consumption everywhere and in my village, they teach that if you want to know whose cattle broke the fence and fed on your crop, go to the neighbours' kraals and you will surely find mounds of cow-dung with undigested maize grains.

Our leaders are on an eating spree, from the governors, Members of the County Assembly to the 'angels' in Cabinet. Each one argues that he or she is eating because even the boss is doing so.

Were it not that it is clinically nauseating, the evidence of the eating would be discernible from the end material they let out of their system as the stomach naturally adjusts for more uptake.

But don't get it wrong; we can see the footprints of consumption and sunnier days some of them are having from the palatial homes they are putting up, including those who only the other day were fighting with peasants over tiny parcels. You can see it in the story of one of our powerful women buying off homes costing hundreds of millions of shillings in just two installments in the space of two weeks.

I agree with the President that we need to do a lifestyle audit of Kenya Revenue Authority staff, but what will it achieve? I support him when he says corruption must be fought from the bottom to the top. I also clap for him when he declares zero tolerance for corruption. I feel like ululating like that lady journalist, now part of this government, when I read stories about anti-graft agency cracking on the footsteps of so-and-so.

The stories sound great; it seems to suggest Raila Odinga seems not to know what he is saying when he asks the President to wake up and take charge because in his words, he has put us on the road to nowhere.

But how wrong we are because apart from the shuffling of feet and too much noise, little is happening to show one in Kenya can actually pay the price of corruption.

We are feasting on the maize while it is still in the farm before we even pay our debtors. Guys are running away with as many cobs as possible in their pockets. No one cares really because if the farm called Kenya belongs to all of us, then it belongs to no one.

Even in order of priorities for prayers, we seem to get it wrong; yet by and by, our lies and thieving ways are catching up with us.

The mademons have started hitting us where it hurts most; in the pocket.

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