Rural areas need more information to thrive

Rural areas enjoy publicity every five years when politicians visit seeking votes. After that, the places go quiet and back to their traditional way of life.

Seasons and the sun guide the rural areas and their activities from milking to fishing and even marriage. Contrast that with Nairobi or cities where working 24 hours is a reality and work is invariant to seasons.

During the campaign season, rural areas overflow with promises. Everyone wants to have a piece of the rural areas. The fact is that most voters live in the rural areas. And you need their votes to get power.

Do these voters know the power they hold? Sadly once politicians win, the voter is helpless. He even makes the voter dependent on him through bursaries and other funds.

The voter even forgets the politician's money is his money, his tax.

Beyond the radio and TV, rural areas lack critical information that can improve their livelihoods. The only other information centres are schools which cater for the young.

Where do adults get their information? The simple answer is the internet and social media. I was taken aback by Indian movies in local mother tongues in central Kenya and their addiction, more than afrocinema.

Is this information fit for use? Does it address improvement in productivity? Whether it's animal husbandry, crops or even health, information in rural areas is scarce.

The situation is made worse by rural-urban immigration where the best brains leave the rural areas. And they never return unless for funerals. It's no wonder just a few people are opinion shapers in rural areas, the local primary headmaster (not secondary school head!) the chief and a few retirees.

They sit on school boards and committees, are masters of ceremonies and run businesses like shops, posho mills or matatus. Add the local priests.

The next generation will bear the brunt of rural areas' scarcity of information. Their expectations have been attenuated. We now have a paradox where poverty is no longer a motivator in school.

How can we reverse this situation? Remember municipal town halls? Can we have a town hall where rural folks can meet and share ideas? Through such town halls, the "Nairobi tribe" can give back to the rural folks with new information and inspiration. Why did we copy the American Constitution and forgot the town halls?

Schools should be more open, inviting guests and professionals to inspire the next generation. Devolution has brought money to the counties, but I doubt if it has brought a revolution in the way rural folks view life, their place in the economy and their future prospects.

We must unfreeze the rural areas with more information about what they can do to improve themselves and society. Agreed?