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Folly of 'poor' Nairobians who frown on rich rural life

Why are urban leafy suburbs considered more prestigious than equally leafy rural areas? 

The leafy rural areas are often more spacious and give you more freedom without razor wires, walls and security guards. 

Let’s make it more real. All the drama around the housing levy is about the urbanites who lack housing.

Yet even young boys own houses in rural areas. They may be called simbas or thingiras, but they are all houses.  

Our housing statistics ignore house ownership in rural areas. It‘s 100 per cent! No worry over rent or mortgage.

Ever heard anyone praising rural folks? Kenya is 70 per cent rural. Naturally, rural folks own more houses than urbanites.

The size and the quality of houses in the rural areas make them less “visible” but not less important. 

Think of the fresh air they breathe and the beauty they behold every day from nature, including mountains, rivers, valleys, and the stars and the moon at night.

Think of the swirling winds, and domestic animals like cows, chickens, goats, sheep and donkeys.

The urbanites, on the other hand, have to pay through the nose to own pets; domestic animals are often forbidden in urban settings. Have we forgotten rural folks do not have to commute?  They work where they live. 

Add the innocence of dropping by the neighbour‘s, sharing mucene (gossip), laughter and little anxiety beyond rain failing.

Rural folks often have fewer worries compared with urbanites. Few urbanites will confess that, lest their prestige diminish. Remember watu wa Nairobi (urban dwellers) who get special meals during funerals? 

Yet hustlers leave this full life for urban areas, towns and cities, promised what they already have in plenty. This is the hustler’s paradox. Ever seen a slum in rural areas? Why are we more willing to live in slums than in rural areas? 

The hustlers are so convinced of the Promised Land in the urban areas, arguing that devolution has not worked as expected!  

If we can make the rural folks believe in themselves and see their life as distinct and honourable like the Amish in parts of the US, we can sort out most urban problems like slums, which are good sources of cheap labour for the urban elite. 

We just need to give rural areas basic services like roads, water and power, not forgetting basic hygiene, education, and dreams. They will do the rest. Are you a victim of the hustler’s paradox?

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