Kenya is a strange land. Many moons ago, in the county of Uasin Gishu, some folks decided the best way to accelerate our fabled march into modernity was to enhance the skills of the youth in the county, much the same way students’ airlifts were organised in the 1960s to the US.
But unlike its forebear, the Uasin Gishu project did not look to North America, though it did later; the main destination for its youth was Finland. Here, the youngsters would take up courses that steer them on the path to prosperity.
But unlike the 1960s project, which offered scholarships to the best students at the best of American schools, this Finland project turned out to be an act of asperity: ill-prepared students were sent to obscure colleges where they learnt practically nothing. Or next to nothing. And their parents paid their fees.
The organisers weren’t getting nothing. They were pocketing millions of shillings from parents desperate to have their children study abroad. This is the scam that Mercy Tarus, the Uasin Gishu student, has powerfully brought to the fore.
It is not clear why parents thought it prudent to sell their land or houses or take up loans to send their children to little-known colleges in Finland. And those who travelled succumbed to bouts of racism and depression. Some even took their own lives.
For those seeking to know why the scam went on for so long, just remember Shakahola, the dungeons where over 400 Kenyans perished, as our police officers patrolled the land.
If the pastor looks important enough to be invited to State banquets, the police will generally look the other way, as innocent Kenyans perish. In both instances, no one is in jail.