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We must guard against becoming a country of fakes

OPINION
By Henry Munene | September 21st 2013

By Henry Munene

Sometime last year Kenyans were shocked to learn that a civilian had managed to sneak his untrained self into the highest echelons of the police force, accessing highly sensitive security information and making nonsense of any illusions we may have had of the invincibility of the men and women who are supposed to protect us.

As if that was not bad enough, we watched in horror as authorities trotted out fake abortion agents to fake ‘doctors’ from back-alley ‘clinics’. Now it is scary to imagine that the (wo)man deciding which medication you should be put on might have no idea what he or she is doing. It is the highest form of witchcraft, if you ask me, for which many communities of yore would have put a culprit in a beehive covered with dry banana leaves, which would then be set on fire and rolled downhill.

It does not end there.

When it became clear that certain academic qualifications would be demanded for one to qualify for certain elective posts, Luthuli Avenue went into overdrive. There were tales of prominent people trying to acquire certificates overnight, followed by an uproar that spilled over to the election aftermath where many petitions were filed by election losers seeking to nullify electoral results on grounds that the declared winners had ‘fake certificates’. Perhaps it would be good to trace the malaise to its earlier roots.

Every year, even primary school national exam results are cancelled because candidates are found to have cheated. It is scandalous when you consider that more often than not, these delinquents manage to obtain the papers ahead of the exam date with the complicity of their teachers.

And while it may well be true that our young boys and girls are just a tip of the iceberg – manifesting the moral abyss into which we have sunk as a society – something must give, or we may be raising the curtain to real Armageddon. Consider that those who cheat in exams may just join university to study aeronautical engineering, surgery and other such professions. If, God forbid, these fake graduates repair the airplane or any other mode of transport, or are allowed to open up your bowels to operate on a vein therein, then God help our children.

And it is not only fake cops, certificates and other such things we are talking about here. Every time I visit the shop at my local, I find that the attendant has pasted yet another fake Sh1,000 note that some thug gave him and made away with quite a chunk of the stock. And haven’t we heard horrifying cases of fake consignments of drugs being impounded, whose implications I don’t have the guts to delve into here?  We need to seriously strengthen institutions whose mandate is to protect Kenyans especially from fake foodstuff and other edible things that seem to have flooded the market.

For every genuine alcoholic drink in the market, we now have a ‘Kariobangi’ generic selling at half the price and whose ingredients only heavens and the shadowy brewers are aware of. Now, when this culture of piracy is allowed to extend to farms inputs and daily staple foods, it gets really scary. The State needs to quickly reactivate its consumer protection machinery before the ghost of procrastination returns to haunt us.

How about making our education system so water-tight that only genuine understanding of concepts can help you pass exams, and not a culture of cramming class notes where you can sneak a mwakenya to the exam room? How about making our bank notes and other State documents impossible to falsify? And how about lighting a fire under institutions that should kick fake products out of the market?

Either that, or we relapse into a state where given our petty character-assassination politics, we will not be able to tell who is fake and who is not, where only those who shout loudest will drown all other voices. The signs are all there.


 

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