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Why the Kenyan pride is under threat

By Mbuthia Mwaniki | December 2nd 2019


Things change a little too fast at times. It used to be a cause for alarm when someone held their chin in the palm of their hand, a sign of worry it was. Nowadays everybody is worried, oblivious even; they don’t hold up their chins like they used to.

There are mobile phones with funny clips of how machines work or kittens playing or some grass harvesting sickle-like thing in China or India. We literally need hypnosis to keep going. It is this hypnosis by technology and our acquired behavioral routines; work-gym-store-home repeat that has made us miss the big picture of what’s happening around us.

It’s sad that no one gives a damn about anything anymore. Try counting the people in pajamas on the streets. People used to comb their hair, spend time at the tailors; we cared about how we looked. Change is inevitable that much I cannot deny, it, however, is sad when change is brought about prematurely by an economic crisis, when we lose our pride right before our very eyes.

There’s a time not too long ago when Kenyan men didn’t drive Vitz, a time when a Rolex watch gave a statement or having an iPhone made you stand out, a time when every meeting would end up in a nyama choma joint. ‘These are all earthly material things’ the religious man will say, ‘they all don’t matter, what matters is what’s in our hearts.’

Pride is in our hearts or at least used to be. Pride is what made the Maumau fight for our liberation, pride is what made Munyao climb up Mount Kenya and hoist the Kenyan flag up high, pride is what made Orengo and Muite a Njoya fight for multiparty politics in Kenya, it is what made Mwai Kibaki vie for president and get elected while on a wheelchair. It is for the pride that Kipchoge pushed himself so hard to break that marathon record.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is for this pride that we pushed through school some in terrible situations where we lacked shoes, food, school fees, and when we wore that gown, and the memories flashed back on graduation day what we felt inside us was pride.

When an economic crisis that’s only felt by a certain cadre of society hits so hard that we can no longer afford to tailor a suit for Christmas then or pride is injured, when we cannot afford to buy everyone at the local a beer when we visit the village, our pride is injured. When we’d rather not attend Harambee but instead send our meager donations through proxies or pretend to forget we were ever invited for fear of belittlement, then our pride is scared.

We work hard, really hard. We, as such, cannot understand why a Labor Cabinet Secretary is considering exporting labor to ease the unemployment problem, especially when the same Cabinet secretary is in charge of the treasury. Has it gotten that bad?

After years of being fed so much hope through new constitutions, devolution, free primary school education, separation of powers between the three organs of governments to the now recent Building Bridges Initiative, our youth have to go work in some monarch where they just started letting their women drive to survive.

I just don’t get it, what was all this for if a class of us cannot work and live here comfortably. It scares me even worse when the same government says they’re now going to sell citizenship and permanent Residency, export labor-create space, sell citizenship-fill space. A proud nation wouldn’t let this happen beneath its nose.

Mbuthia Mwaniki,

[email protected]

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