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From loud speakers to showbiz faith: Bad habits Kenyans need to change

By Edward Buri | November 28th 2021

 The loud talk is provoked by the presence of a nearby captive public, which the speaker aims to impress. [Courtesy]

Generosity is a virtue the rich must seek. Few things compare to an encounter with a person who is wealthy but mean. They can buy for themselves a piece of jewelry from the ends of the earth without bargaining and even organise for its first-class shipping to their doorstep. But they will bargain the mama mboga to the ground.

Wealth with stinginess is abject poverty. That wealth needs to change hands and be transferred to kind hearts. Others engage a hawker in traffic and do a 'touch tour' of all the wares only to zoom away having bought nothing. Is it the fancy sunglasses that blind them from seeing the valves of hope that open up in the hardworking hawker when the Range Rover stops to engage them? The hawker expects, understandably, that the person behind the wheel will share some wealth. You may not buy for your use. But you buy because the hawker’s spirit can use your encouragement.

Then there are the loudspeakers personified. They speak so loudly when on phone, a high volume loaded with big talk with intent to attract those people who are nearby. The loud talk is provoked by the presence of a nearby captive public, which the speaker aims to impress. As they pace to and fro, there is every indication–from their poses to their gestures–that they want to impress and be seen as important people.

For some, it is talking tough as they give instructions. Others talk rough, calling the persons on the other end demeaning names. Others talk angrily, using unprintable words to express their displeasure with whatever it is they are talking about. Most talk big money, mentioning the 'millions' part repeatedly. When they are done, they are happy to find people glancing in their direction to catch a glimpse of this 'big money' fellow. But deep down, they know the conversation was exaggerated. They know the intensity of their impression was nowhere near the reality. Living an exaggerated life is an expensive affair. It is just a matter of time before it proves unaffordable.

Is every open space a dustbin? Someone somewhere sometime or over time has sold us an open-minded dustbin concept - and we bought it. The consequences are sad. We have dirty cities and towns because everywhere is a garbage dump. The dirt says we are to be pitied. A few laws–like the plastic bag ban–have come to our rescue, otherwise our city would be a landfill. If it takes more laws to check our littering, then more laws are welcome. It is sad that we need laws to effect what common sense should. Experience demonstrates that cleanliness is not a factor of economic class. It is a matter of conscience. Dirty environments must remain unacceptable. Where our habits are to blame, they must be tamed. Half the trash we curse the county government for not collecting was thrown carelessly by us. We need to be 'clean' in the way we handle our litter. The government does not exist to cover our bad manners.

Way-givers needed. When at a junction joining a main road or roundabout, you see drivers accelerating intentionally to prevent you from merging with traffic. Meanness seems to be the default setting for many drivers. Even new drivers have been coached that giving way is a sin.  What an outdated mentality. We need a form of moral deliverance to install kindness as our primary response. Dear Kenyan driver, it is okay to give way. Nothing bad will happen to you. Your image will not shrink. Your position in life will not suffer.  And when you are given way, do not behave as if it was a right. It is an intentional act of kindness. Acknowledge the way-giver with a wave, a flashing of lights, or a smile. That is how you water the kindness and are hopefully recruited into the way-givers club. Way-givers communicate to us that you need to know a person to extend kindness. Kindness is not based on familiarity. Way-giving tells us that competition does not belong everywhere and must be restricted to where it is valid. You cannot claim to be in a greater hurry than your fellow road user. They could have an important destination but choose to remain calm. Way-givers contribute to order, a sight we need to see in more places. Times may be hard but we should not smuggle the scarcity mentality into places where it is unnecessary.

Showbiz faith is unnecessary. Think about it. When a community gains more hospitals, the result is a healthier people and less deaths. More schools mean a greater access to education, which translates into a more knowledgeable people. Increased enlightenment manifests in holistic development. More industries lead to more productivity to supply the needed materials as well as higher employment. This reflects in a growing economic endowment. Now, what do more churches in a community translate into? What does a town with an increasing number of churches have to show for it? Going by the impact of Jesus as he walked the streets of Palestine, we expect divinely assisted internal reformation of people accompanied by external transformation of systems that exhibits unmistakable abundant life with divine marks all over it. But is that what we see? What do more churches in a town translate to? A new church is expected to make Jesus better supplied to the people. But a church whose Christians have a showbiz faith will definitely dilute its impact. Those who insist on front row pews yet commit only to a lukewarm faith are dimmers of light. Faith is not forced. Pretentiousness is unnecessary. A showbiz faith will not do. Intense times need intense witness.

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