We have a distinctly Kenyan way of sanitising history. We interestingly seem/wish to forget certain ills and transgressions that have been occasioned on the peoples, and act like we are so much better off today.
But are we?
Are we any better now than the native Kenyan under the colonialist’s baton and bayonet? Are we any better off than the champions of democracy who were so quickly eliminated upon independence under the guise of that very democratic leadership? Are we any better off than our fathers and mothers who mutedly spoke of “Mwakenya” under the constant fear of the Special Branch? Or are we anywhere better than those who championed a cause for transparency, accountability, ease of doing business and multi-party democracy in the decades past?
On a balance of probabilities, maybe we are. And yet, balanced out against the cost of the actions of such persons we so eagerly sanitise, maybe we are just paddling in quicksand my friend.
We celebrate criminals, thieves, philanderers and louts of all kinds, and award them positions of honour. Every day, endless clamour on how we would never have gotten where we are without grace, effort and sacrifice is peddled around at the lowest price to the highest shouter. The mass audience always gulps it down, without a hint of mental mastication, and the wave grows and grows, most notably over five-year cycles.
The stars of the hottest scandals, paraded on national TV and quizzed on whether their household cats are feeding well, or how they “feel” about the allegations. Of course, they feel bad; like “I-got-a-nasty-flu” kind of bad. Who wouldn’t? Even their cats would. And just as quick as the first one came out, the next is “unearthed” (un-archived would be more appropriate), heavy-laden with spooky soundtracks, catchy commentary and graphics out of a failed James Bond movie. And for just those 40 minutes, and maybe the office-day after, we seem to care. Then what?
We have come far, no doubt. But for almost each five steps we take forward, those thieving louts stand before us, pulling us back another three steps. We remain in an endless flux of scandal, uncertainty, violence and mediocrity which we owe to no-one else but ourselves.
Admittedly, I have never been much a fan of proverbs or riddles, and you can blame the significantly myopic and robotic 8-4-4 system for that. However, it stands true that every cloud has a silver lining. Yes, these thieves have brought good and prosperity to our land. Indeed they have helped some of the weak and oppressed who we of relatively lesser means sometimes dismiss. Granted, I will also not take away their industriousness and hard work from them. I actually admire it and seek to learn what good I can from it. This is because they, just as much as the common burglar, possess an admirable level of bravado and ambition which ironically, is worth sanitising and adopting for oneself.
Nonetheless, I refuse to be socially conditioned into accepting the erasure of facts from the people’s conscious mind. Some ills should and must remain indelible in the public eye; holding these transgressions to account is the only remedy to heal a wounded nation.
So for as long as we demand and cry for change and yet seem as willing and submissive as the village herd of sheep to cling to these lupine shepherds, backward shall we remain.
If you, for all your ‘higher education’; salaried life; central, intermediate-median, upper-middle class tags (or whatever they call it these days) and cultured life, cannot claw out of that intellectual cocoon that you hibernate into, cast off the perverse stereotypes that pervade the understanding of basic human elements, and apply a discerning mind to facts (and not PR machinations) thrown at you, then we are lost.
There’s a hymn that most of the Protestant faith have heard: Fight the good fight with all thy might. Ridding it of religious connotations, and accepting Paul of Tarsus’ epistolary prowess, it rings true for the very nature of the human condition.
If you can rise and fight that good fight against the mental myopia that oh-so-nearly blinds you, then you, my friend, are the only hope we have.