THE REAL FACTS…AND A BEER.

“Never before has a generation recorded themselves  accomplishing so little.”- Anon.

Couple of seasons ago I wrote about how my friends were accusing me of being “so political” (whatever that means), and most recently one of my favorite humans has consistently branded my talk as”quite presidential”. See, I have a way of turning all conversations into political analysis sessions, unapologetically so. Goodness me, everything in our lives is affected by politics (fuel prices, food, religion..EVERYTHING!) so we might as well have this political conversation rolling, I bring the facts only, the beer comes later. So, shall we? 🙂

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“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” ― Mark Twain

Now, I’ve been rubbing shoulders with some of the key players in Kenyan political scene recently (thanks to my work and post graduate studies) and one thing I never miss a moment to bring up is Kenya’s downward spiral into a path of anarchy and an impending state of lawlessness. It is heart-wrenching to use the terms ‘anarchy’ and ‘lawlessness’ in reference to a country I love so dearly as the motherland..but I’ve never been the type to sweep the make-or-break affairs under the rug.

As a country, we are living in times where the rule of law is but a legal phrase left to the confines of our courts, law schools and as rich vocabulary left to the preserve of we the ones who seldom miss an opportunity to call ourselves “the learned friends”. The spirit of that very phrase is lost somewhere between impunity and the outright disregard for court orders by the very leaders we elected into office (starting from the presidency to the lower house). Our conversations are seldom objective and anyone seen to point out the misgivings is dismissed as”ethnic” or “hater”. The Odhiambo’s of Kenya defend the Onyango’s while the Mutua’s won’t let you  call out the Mutune’s on their B.S (excuse my French), and woe unto you should Kamau catch you “bad-mouthing” his friend Mwiraria.  As Sir John Dalberg-Acton noted, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is our predicament here in Kenya – the cancer of corruption.  

Prior to 2007, Kenya was a country renown for her stability within the East and Central Africa, as not only a great tourist destination, but also a financial and communication hub. While the country continues to struggle to maintain her status with that regard, we must admit that we need to tame a few greedy forces in the political arena who will raze a country’s economy to her knees if we continue to watch in silence.

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“Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.” – (Former) President Mwai Kibaki.

Take for instance the numerous financial scandals (NYS scandal, The Youth Fund saga, ‘Chicken Gate’ scandal et al.), that have been reported within the Jubilee administration, the outright embezzlement of public funds… Myriads of cases, one too many tribunals and/commissions of inquiry and not a single person jailed!  Isn’t that the epitome of a failed leadership? Will we just sit back and watch? Isn’t that robbing our descendants of the luxury of a magnificent Kenya? If indeed the future is a loan from our children, is this how we service that loan – by stealing from within? If you and I stop being “so cool” that we can’t “dirt” ourselves with matters that make us uncomfortable, then maybe we can rescue ourselves from the wrath of a failed state in years to come. And it all starts with admitting two things: one, that indeed we have a crisis and two, that we need to get real and act immediately.

Speaking of leadership crisis, I had this talk with a group of youths and in my quest to find out if they all plan to vote come August, 2017, a good number blatantly expressed their lack for motivation to even cast a ballot. Some believe there’s no need to vote as they “know” the system is corrupt, others ‘see no point in choosing between two evils only to settle for the lesser of the two evils’, while others will vote and hope for the best. This kind of tone is the tone of despair.  Kenya, being a young democracy, experts note that her weak institutions—not inherent ethnic divisions—are at the root of the current political crisis. Something needs to be done and done now. “What can be done?”, you may ask. We need to create strong institutions. Yes, very strong institutions is what we need to establish, not keep rallying behind “strong men” with fat wallets and cheap talk for the poor unsuspecting common wananchi!

When our leaders could be toiling to put the country back on track, all I see is meaningless rallies. Rallies, really? Just yesterday the president and his deputy held this massive rally in Nakuru county to thank God  (*rolls eyes*) for getting the ICC yoke off their necks or is it shoulders? Excuse my forthrightness, but how is that a national issue?? No, really, how is an issue of two individuals a national issue? Let’s first understand that Kenya was NOT in trial, individuals who were accused long before assuming the positions of president and deputy president were. Now that this is clear, how is their victory with that regard a national affair? By all means, celebrate if you must with you family and friends, just don’t make it look like the world of me depended on it. On the other hand the opposition is seen to also rally a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, but wouldn’t it be much better if we could have a strong opposition with less side shows and REAL ISSUES not forever countering what the ruling party says and/or does? Can we have the opposition being objective enough to bring checks and balances to the government? Counter an idea/action and even give/show a better way of doing things? Can the opposition condemn corruption regardless of whether it is a jubilee member or  CORD member accused? That is what true leadership entails – objectivity. I mean, the people of Kenya deserve so much more than side shows and petty politics!

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“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” ― Groucho Marx

Now, that we (you and I) agree on the fact that we deserve so much better and more, why don’t you look past my name (which may give you a hint of my ethnic background), forget my gender even (I’m of the fairer sex, but what does it matter?), can you also forget my age (who knew age discrimination would still be an issue in the 21st century!) AND work towards a better Kenya? It starts with holding our leaders accountable, and it all begins with a choice in mind and a voter’s card in hand

Just like Abraham Lincoln, ‘I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer’.Haha. Only difference is, the beer is allover the place while the facts remain corrupted.

 

 

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“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
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TELL AFRICA TO LOOK AGAIN; THE WEST AND CHINA, TOO, HAVE A VESTED INTEREST!!

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

Did you listen/watch H.E. president Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech during the official launch of Global Entrepreneurship Summit, that was delivered at Strathmore Business School on 9th June, 2015?   Well, I didn’t. I was most probably so focused on the so-called paper-chase that I couldn’t afford to even sit still and watch telly at the time, but I made a point of getting to read it (the presidential speech), because I have a vested interest.

It is sad that most Kenyan watuz know and celebrate the fact that H.E. president of the U.S.A will be visiting the motherland sometimes in July, but stubbornly remain ignorant as to why the president with Kenyan roots would be taking time off his busy schedule to visit the country. What is even more pitiful is the fact that the compact majority think such a visit will spell more foreign aid to the country. Well, so be the case, but why exactly are Kenyans and Africans at large rejoicing at the sound of that? I personally remain unamused by the allocation of a bigger foreign aid kitty to the motherland and I have genuine reasons for the same. So I will take my time and explain why foreign aid should not excite Africans more so the common wananchi! However, what’s not amusing is not so much the foreign aid, but the wanting African attitudes that need urgent fixing!

Hello Africa, you don’t need saving by the west. Only YOU can save yourself!!

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I must acknowledge the fact that the initiative of an entrepreneurship summit on a global platform is quite in order and commendable and we all should take advantage of the same in a bid to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable growth and development in our capacities as developing nations. However, such great opportunities are doomed to fail at the worst case scenario and not yield optimal rewards at the best case scenario until we all realize two important aspects: 1.) That poverty is created and sustained by extractive institutions; and 2.) It is no longer what the west can do for Africa, but rather what African could do with the West. This is the agenda for everyone who, too, feels they have a vested interest (in the development of Africa).

POVERTY IN AFRICA

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”
“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

Diagnosing a problem is always the easier part, fixing it is quite the grueling other. It does interest me that more than a  quarter of countries in the sub-saharan Africa, are poorer today than they were in the early 1960s despite having been receiving their share of the foreign aid. Doesn’t that kind of statistic prove to us that foreign aid is not the solution to the problem we have in Africa? In fact, the problems and challenges we face as Africans in the 21st century are mainly as a result of  poor leaderships. Otherwise a continent this rich in mineral resources, stretches of vast beautiful landscapes, white sandy beaches scattered along the coastlines and an assortment of mostly friendly climates, should be developed by now! When I agree foreign aid is needed to some extent, I still assert that it will not end poverty in Africa, but will only continue to enrich the minority powerful elite class with access to the same as the vast majority continue to wallow in abject poverty as they wait for a messiah they know not much about either.

A good place to start in the quest to eradicate poverty in Africa would be that we all understand that poor countries are  poor because they are run by extractive institutions. These are institutions that understand that for the ruling class to remain powerful they must control wealth distribution and allocation. These institutions wield immense power but have no concern for the common good of you and I, the watuz, they are not working for the benefit of the majority, they are more concerned with defending the interests of the elite, the only real beneficiaries of these monies. The institutions are not and will not be inclusive because they are build to be extractive in their very nature in order to retain the status quo or else the wananchi would become too enlightened and overthrow the ruling class. Poverty in Africa will only end the moment we rid ourselves of these malicious institutions and have more inclusive ones. Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, captured it so well when he talked of what he referred to as the golden thread: It is time to stop speaking simply about the quantity of aid and start talking about what I call the golden thread. He further explained golden thread as the idea that long-term development through aid only happens if there is a golden thread of stable government, lack of corruption, human rights, the rule of law and transparent information. And if you ask me, that is perfect recipe for what proper inclusive institutions would be made of.  Needless to say, we as Kenyans, cannot boast of a golden thread.. yet. I am only starting to forget that my president recently referred to newspapers as only good for wrapping meat..and everyone laughed, weeks later, in the eye of my mind I’m still transfixed in that moment, looking for the joke so I, too can burst out laughing at this subtle mockery on freedom of the media in the land of hakuna matata. Ha! Very funny..maybe not!

It is noteworthy that the road to salvation from poverty for Africans will not be a walk in the park, as will call for radical reforms in all public sectors. This is mainly because poverty for billions of Africans is the flip-side of elite power. The elite have amassed outrageous networths in wealth for themselves by rigging the economic systems in ways that ensure the majority are denied decent life opportunities. Needless to mention, that would definitely receive a retaliatory resistance. Maybe this would be a more meaningful read to most if everyone had an insatiable appetite for learning just how the world really works. Then we could strip financial markets naked and expose just how skillfully they’ve managed to cloth neoclassical economics in unwarranted complexity just so they don’t get challenged by outsiders.  And when we finally lift the veil of complexity covering the financial markets, democracy might finally be a relevant tool to face down the vested interests of the minority wealth and privilege.

HOW TO REALLY HELP AFRICA

I am not sure whether on the agenda of those who seek to help Africa is a drilling session on REALITY TALK, during which they just give Africans the truth of the matter.  We have one too many organizations and governments that just want to help Africa or so they say, but do these institutions tell Africa exactly what they gain from Africa as a result of such help? Do they also tell Africa that the truth is they do not have any lasting solutions? That Africa will forever be needy if they keep receiving that aid?

Anyone who really seeks to help Africa, ought to put this on their agenda: Tell Africans that the only help they need is to have proper governments that will mobilize the resources in the continent to : 1) Eradicate poverty; 2.) Achieve equal rights for both genders; 3.) promote human rights and freedoms; 4.) Ensure freedom of media; and 5.) Ensure integrity in government while upholding the principles of good governance

Also,you dear helpers of Africa, remember to warn Africa from over-relying on the west and China. In your quest to help Africa, tell Africans that people don’t just invest in anything unless they are benefiting. That the Western powers might sometimes induce shock in form of war, conquest, and terror so as to destabilize their countries and step in to help, and this is not in bad faith, it is simply ruling by what one Naomi Klein would refer to as the shock doctrine. Tell Africans that the western powers are power junkies and must always feel needed by the poor unsuspecting Africans, and it is just a way of ruling the world, nothing personal. 🙂 Tell Africans sometimes the Al-shabab and other militant group attacks have nothing to do with fanatical groups of misinformed extremists, but have everything to do with their saviors. Tell Africans that, as a matter of fact, the military interventions of western powers over the last two decades have caused more suffering and loss of life, and far greater damage to economic infrastructure than any actual terrorist acts! In that same breath, tell Africa that we only tend not to discuss that fact because we, Africans, are encouraged to believe that such engagements are well motivated. Tell Africa to stop being so cute and naive! Dear western powers, just tell Africa what it is. You will be more surprised when they forget it almost immediately! I am African, I would know how we operate. LOL!

They say I am polarizing. I say, no guts, no story. - Mbula Nzuki
They say I am polarizing. I say, no guts, no story.
– Mbula Nzuki

See, one Aldous Huxley once said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons of history.” He was so right, that I couldn’t agree more! So wake up Africa and allow yourselves to understand that you don’t need any saving, at least not by the west nor by China, for they, too, have a vested interest which is not necessarily aligned to the one Africa deserves to have for herself!

Let’s start by changing our dialogues to place ourselves strategically as key players in world economic contributions through entrepreneurship and innovations and prove to ourselves first, then the world second, that it is no longer what can be done for African, but what could be done with Africa if we set out to do it!

Help me put this on the agenda, for I have a vested interest…in Africa!

“A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason.” – J.P. Morgan