Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Are we really that desperate?

Geoge Saitoti is a millionaire many times over, perhaps even a billionaire. Who knows? What we do know is that he will not want for anything in the near future. It is highly unlikely that we will see him scrambling across wetlands of fuel to scoop some for sale at the nearest market centre so that he can feed his dependents. The First Lady is also not a from a humble background, not today anyway. She enjoys all the trappings of the spouse of a head of state. Yet their takes on the tragedies that have befallen the victims of the fires in Nairobi and Molo tell a story of the near continental divide among leaders in Kenya today.

There are those who have realised (belatedly) that they cannot continue to use us as cannon-fodder for their political wars. Others, however, do not care whether we live or die so long as they can loot the National Treasury. Mrs. Kibaki exposed the vacuity of some of our leaders by questioning Prof. Saitoti's callous remark about the imperatives of poverty compelling some of my unfortunate brothers and sisters to risk life and limb in the search for a meal. Had he taken time to run this statement through his admittedly well-organised brain, he would have come to the conclusion that while his sentiments may be true, there are many truths as to the misfortunes befalling the good people of this benighted land.

Some have ascribed them to the powers of darkness; other have ascribed them to the venality of those in power. What is certain is that these people in positions of responsibility and power have done precious little to ameliorate the suffering of the tens of millions of Kenyans facing starvation, famine, drought, disease, pestilence and all manner of avoidable risks. It is dispiriting to witness thieves and robber-barons sitting in the august chambers of the National Assembly inveighling against corruption in high office and other vices while their bank balances could fund several district hospitals for years without having to bother the guardians of the Consolidated Fund.

Yes, we are really that desperate. While the fat cats in Parliament roll around in their Mercs, Beemers, Rangeys and Pajs, we must make do with the recklessly handled City Hoppas and 14-seater matatus. While they can afford five course lunches at the Parliamentary cafeteria, we must make do with a one-square at the local kibanda. Anything more, and we must make a choice between food and transport. Don't even get me started on where we live as compared to their palaces in Runda and Muthaiga. The plain fact is that whenever we see a trailer on its side spilling paraffin or kerosene or petrol, risk to life and limb is not a deterrent to the opportunity to provide for our families by engaging in potentially suicidal siphoning missions. After all, the Judases that promised us jobs and food haven't done anything for us, have they?

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