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Opinion: Let's get out of this moral morass

By Julie Masiga | March 7th 2017

Accept and move on. Four words that have come to define our position as citizens since 2013.

Before then, turning a blind eye to injustice was nothing new; the difference being that before 2013 it was implied. In 2013, it was articulated. And as a forgetful collective, it has become our sweet spot. Accept. Move on. Forget. Repeat.

That is not the only four-word phrase that is entrenched in our national psyche. The other one is ‘our time to eat’.

John Githongo used these words to describe Mwai Kibaki administration’s unashamed looting but they could easily take the place of the ironic ‘tuko pamoja’ Jubilee tagline.

It’s not hard to see how from a politician’s perspective, ‘our turn to eat’ fits nicely with ‘accept and move on’.

You can yap about it all you want on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp and wherever else, but when you’re done, shove your dissatisfaction in your mouth and swallow it.

Oh, and don’t let it choke you because you need to rubber stamp the election of the next gaggle of plunderers.

But see, it’s easy to blame those in leadership for a people’s mediocrity. It’s easy to point the finger at a failed State, even when you’re smack in the middle of a failed society. A society that has turned a blind eye to endemic bullying in boarding schools for decades.

A society that believes torturing 14-year-old boys and girls is an acceptable rite of passage. That children beating other children with hockey sticks and electric cables toughens them up and prepares them for adulthood.

Is it any wonder that we have slowly, but surely evolved into a man-eat-man community? If minors take it upon themselves to use trauma as some kind of twisted developmental tool, can we really claim surprise when they go rogue on reaching the age of majority?

Let me put this another way: Can women claim surprise when the sons they raise grow up to be the men they hate?

Nayirrah Waheed, a critically acclaimed contemporary poet, put it thus: “What massacre happens to my son, between him living within my skin, drinking my cells, my water, my organs, and his soft psyche turning cruel. Does he not remember he is half woman?”

The same question can be posed about the state of affairs in our failing society.

What massacre happens to our children between the age of innocence and the reality of adulthood that turns them into hardened opportunists in the sole pursuit of wealth and privilege?

Well, a whole host of factors are at play, some of them historical, while others are creations of the modern day.

That said, we cannot run away from the fact that as we have turned our gaze away from the bullying culture, it has become a key factor in the moulding of entire generations. It is a culture that replicates itself, reproducing after its own kind.

Yes, we laugh out loud, talking about how Form Four boys would ask ‘monos’ to bring them buckets full of darkness, swim on grass or sketch the tastiness of mandazi. If they survived without physical scars, then it is harmless enough, right?

Wrong, because that would be ignoring the long-lasting psycho-social effects of being terrorised at a young age. Two women who shared their stories on a national radio station really brought it home for me. One of them said that all her underwear was stolen on day one of Form One and for a month thereafter, she had to wear the same undergarment every day of the week.

After that month and on her mother’s first visit, she left the school and refused to be sent back to a boarding facility for the rest of her high school years. That experience, while not a physical assault the likes of which happened at Alliance High School, remained with her right into adulthood.

The other woman said that just as she joined Form One, all her blouses were stolen from the clothes line and she was forced to wear her sweater without a blouse for a long time.
“By the time I was in Form Four, I had 12 blouses.

I did the same thing that was done to me. In a way, it toughens you up. You man-up,” she said, with no shortage of pride, but not in my layman’s opinion, without a tinge of pain.

She more or less admitted that she was stolen from and therefore, she became a thief, and that my friends, is an accurate if simplistic assessment of many Kenyans today. We’re living in a ‘do unto others as they have done to you’ society, chasing that moment when it is finally our turn to eat.

Or our turn to beat. To rape. To defile. To cheat. And when that day finally comes for the few, the many will turn a blind eye, fully expecting the same favour when they time arrives.

So we find ourselves caught in a cycle of injury that is so far along as to be self-perpetuating. And our response? Accept. Move on. Forget. Repeat.



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