I studied the book Encounters from Africa for my high school literature studies, and one story has remained in my mind.
Tekayo was an old man who spent time taking care of his cows. One sunny afternoon, as he prepares to take his cows to the river, an eagle flies over his head with a large piece of meat tightly clutched in its claws.
The bird was flying low, trying to find a perfect spot to enjoy its hunt, only for Tekayo to throw his stick at it, causing the meat to drop. When he eventually gets to roast the meat, it turns out to be the sweetest meat he has ever tasted. An insatiable thirst is born.
Tekayo embarks on an endless hunt to find out which animal harbours a liver that is sweet. In his quest, he kills as many animals, including ones considered taboo. While at it, he loses interest in everything else, including giving his wives the joy of their womanhood. His hunts yielded all kinds of tastes except the one he was looking for.
Eventually, he decides to do the unthinkable, and two of his grandchildren become his victims. He finally lands on the meat that makes his mouth water. However, his joy is short-lived. Despite having finally discovered the source of the sweet liver, he had been forced to pay a great price for it—kill. He ends up hanging himself.
The legendary greed of people serving in government is rearing its head once again. It started with Kemsa season 2, with sugar unfit for human consumption, and most recently, illegal repackaging of subsidised fertiliser.
A few weeks ago a worker in Nairobi County earning Sh22,000 a month, was discovered to have acquired unexplainable property worth millions: A three-star hotel, 11 cars, and parcels of land. Just like in Tekayo, when senior government officials taste the liver, they start killing every animal on their way.
They forget what is expected of them, lose every ounce of humanity, and can stop at nothing to obtain that which tastes sweet—even if it means releasing poisonous sugar to the market.
Just like Tekayo, they will soon realise that greed comes at a great personal cost. A cost that would not allow them enjoy their ‘meat’ for long. They will first be prosecuted by their conscience before facing the wrath of victims.
Most established businessmen make good money without having to cut corners. Jobs in government pay well too. There is no reason for one to put his fellow countrymen in danger for an extra coin. The book of Matthew 6:6 asks the all-important question, “For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
Kenya’s future will be determined by how best we can deal with those who say, “It is my turn to eat,” and have more people say, “It is our turn to serve’.
-The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha