Monday, October 13, 2014

If football has defeated us...

We know what ails football in Kenya. We have known it for two decades. Even in its halcyon days, football in Kenya was dysfunctional. It is why many Stars who turned out for the national team died in abject penury while the men - it was all men - in charge of Kenyan football grew fat on the money that football generated. None much has changed since the 1970s. Changing the thickets of laws, rules and regulations but keeping the same monkeys is not the solution. It hasn't worked anywhere else and it is futile to expect that it will work here.

Curiously, this is not a problem that is limited to Football Kenya. Athletics Kenya finds itself in the cross-hairs of a committed group who want changes. The wool of global glory in the marathon, long- and middle-distance races will one day be lifted and the truth will be there for all to see. And so the story goes in hockey, volleyball, netball, basketball, boxing, rugby, cycling, the martial arts, swimming...Sports in Kenya is the beneficiary of a plethora of rules, regulations, constitutions and associations and yet it is as if its management has been entrusted to the rank-and-file members of the Mungiki and not the top-level bankers, accountants and lawyers that keep that criminal outfit running decade after decade.

The problem is not even limited to sports in Kenya. Look at government, that behemoth that is the Colossus to our Alexandria. It is a sprawling enterprise. Its tentacles reach every nook and cranny of this no longer fair land. Its remit is without challenge. It disguises itself in various shades, hues, shapes - it is variously an army, a police force, a civil service, a teaching service, a health service, a road-builder, a water supplier, an electricity generator, a jailer, a judge, a legislator, a tax collector...it is many things at the same time. Yet for all its many disguises it cannot hide its true nature. In its disguises is revealed its nature. The masks it has worn over the years has fallen. What we see is Football Kenya writ large.

Football Kenya is the promise unfulfilled. Football Kenya is the cautionary tale. Football Kenya is that boy your mama warned you about. Football Kenya is the reason why millions of Kenyans will devote a considerable degree of their loyalty to Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and the top-flight teams of the Barclays English Premier League. And if Football Kenya is the Government of Kenya writ large, our imagination about what a government is will forever be captured by the Court of St James or the District of Columbia.

When we measure our achievements in the art of governing ourselves all the indicators will pile on the leaden feeling until we suffocate from the pressure. Take the most fundamental requirement of a representative government, to represent the interests of the greatest number for the greatest good. In our Year of Jubilee there isn't a man alive who can stare at our Leviathan without experiencing a rage that boils from deep inside his bowels. Look at what the wazungu call Human Development Indicators and watch the gap between the haves and the have-nots widen like the Great Rift Valley. It goes on and on. You know what I'm going to say next. You have half-expected it since you atarted reading his screed. If we cannot manage a football club, we have no business pretending that we can govern ourselves effectively.

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