Kenya submerged in flood waters as others elsewhere die of thirst

Wreckage of a lorry swept away by raging floods while crossing River Muatineni, Sultan Hamud, Makueni.  [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

What a waste of water! Samuel T Coleridge (1772–1834) was perplexed at the paradox of profuse water that nobody could use.

“Water, water, everywhere!” he marvelled, “Nor any drop to drink!” Or, as we often corrupt it, “But not a drop to drink!” And Chinua Achebe would exclaim in 1960, “What a waste of water!” 

For proper context and appreciation, I commend to you Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Achebe in No Longer At Ease.

The flooded season our country is experiencing leaves us gaping at the curse of precious resources. As people elsewhere die of thirst, Kenya is literally submerged. 

Noah’s waters have found their way into the innermost sanctums of our homes. Our food, beds, linen, everything – they are all swallowed up in the deluge. Yet, the weather people say the best is yet to come. But how can they? The waters are killing us. We are fleeing our homes for safety.

Automobiles have been capsized in the mess. Houses cave in, some are carried away. Sewage, food, dead cats and dogs, rats and sundry smelly undesirables, all flow together. They grope their way through our homes, to unknown destinations. We wake up to floating coffins, exhumed by the floods. Missing in action are our national notables. 

The Water Ministry has slept on the job. The disaster units in government, too. In Nairobi, the governor circulates hedonist audio-visual images of himself, wallowing in good times in Arabia. 

Leaders wake up too late, to do too little. Wallets, and wallowing in wine and wenches, seem to be the cause Kenya elects leaders. Our national traumas conjure up images of a homestead whose elders have long been dead.

The fate of the home rests with raw, cheeky juveniles. The lead juvenile is neither the eldest, nor the wisest. But he’s dressed up in authority, and everyone fears him. He is always right. Accordingly, people shake like leaves, at the very thought of advising him. But, here in Emanyulia, our people say that if only you are always right, something is terribly wrong with everything. 

Yet, Kenyans are first class hero flatterers. That is why their country is drowning in rain waters, and soaking in other challenges, too. In national and county government alike, leaders have no seasoned elders to help them think things through. All around them are happy-go-lucky fly-by-night opportunists. These caddies are out to feather their nests. They will refer to a lascivious thirty-something-year-old governor as “Mzee.” 

You see, the tail has never led the head, in the natural world. That is why Nairobi is drowning. It is carrying an expensive administration towards 2027. Wisdom suggests that it is a calamity to leave the destiny of East Africa’s foremost metropolis to the whims, designs and devices of soaked jet-happy youth. Within the framework of the law, could this administration be sent home in the midstream?  

Separately, does national level leadership need to wake up to the fact that it does not have all answers to our challenges? The impression is we operate under a prodigious omniscient ruler. Everyone seems to wait for instructions from above, on everything.  That is why, for instance, it is futile to expect the helpless Susana Nakhumicha Wafula, Florence Bore, and other literal straw persons, to solve the stalemate between the government and the doctors.

The best they can is to filibuster. The solutions reside in State House. They are not with the Council of Governors, or with the Head of Public Service. They are certainly not with the ministers.  So, too, are all the other answers – whether someone pays the price for fake fertilisers, and whether fakery will live on in Kenya or not; road carnage, boda-boda menace, overcrowded schools, insecurity in the North Rift, and all – all solutions reside in Ikulu.

Our kind of orphaned national dispensation does not leave room for anyone, but the Head of State, to decide anything. The day the President decides, the doctors’ strike will end. If he wants us to build affordable channels for water drainage and dams for water storage, we will.

We will decongest schools and end insecurity, if State House wants. Road carnage will end. No minister will stay in the Roads office for a minute longer, if their docket is failing. It’s that simple. Make no mistake, the state of things at any one time in a country like ours reflects the mind of the chief sovereign.  

For his part, the chief sovereign must listen to seasoned elders who respect him, but who also do not fear telling him the truth. Kowtowing hunter-gatherer youth around power are a liability. Yes, what a waste of water!