For some time now, Kenyans on social media have been complaining about the leadership of this country at all levels of government. They have expressed their anger, distrust, and outright disappointment in the ‘dynamic duo,’ commonly referred to as Uhuruto. You have to give it to them.
During the 2013 campaign period, the two brothers revolutionized how campaigns are done. The photoshoots, the posters bearing Uhuru’s signature, and matching college jackets endeared many Kenyans to them.
ICC, Ocampo, and Bensouda were common references in their campaign so much that more than a dozen MPs traveled to The Hague to show solidarity with the accused. New stadia were to be constructed and existing ones to be upgraded to international levels.
Electricity was to get to every primary school and homestead, no matter how far-flung. Maternity was to be free for all mothers in public hospitals, and every county was to have a referral hospital. All school children who joined class one then would receive a laptop and be computer literate by class 4.
A million jobs were to be created, and slums upgraded. Kenya was set to become a world-class country by 2032 when the duo had done its 20 years, respectively.
Then came Eurobond, NYS, MoH, SGR, Water Tunnel, Galana Kulalu, and other mega projects. Now we are here, eight years into the 20 years of Uhuruto. Kenyans are now calling for an overhaul of the entire political class. Good thing, right? The question is, will it turn Kenya around? I do not think so. There is more to it than just good governance.
The matatu culture is entirely Kenyan. We proud ourselves in having the matatu and all things associated with it. Have you ever asked yourself what this culture is all about beyond the graffiti, body fabrications, and sound systems installed in the matatus? Lost luggage, exorbitant charges, foul language, violence, dangerous driving, uncomfortable seats, unnecessary stopovers… the list goes on and on.
All the Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) we use are privately owned. Save for regulation and inspection; the government does not have a stake in the transport sector. If I ask you for your worst matatu ride, how many stories do you have to tell? How many times have you sworn never to use a certain matatu again? If Kenyan citizens really want a government that is pro-people, our private entities are the perfect place to start.
We should build and encourage private spaces that are people-centered. Comfortable seats in matatus, drivers who observe traffic rules and matatu termini that are weather friendly; in the scorching sun of January and long rains of November. Those abled differently should be able to use our PSVs without having to be carried into and out of the matatu.
Let us keep demanding the best from our government and public institutions. They owe us that much. In the meantime, let us also demand quality services from private firms in all sectors and run away from dehumanizing ourselves. Do not board a matatu that is full, wait till the matatu gets to the designated stage so that you can walk out, stop alighting when the matatu is still in motion. Simple acts that will reaffirm to us that we are creatures of dignity.
Demand better from your government, better yet, offer better services as a private citizen.