Friday, April 08, 2016

The bough will break

You must be stupid.

That is the only explanation for the way you are treated by the One Percenters. Your stupidity is the principal reason that even The Monk thinks viral tweets contributed to a run on a badly-supervised bank, bringing it down, and why a billionaire investment banker, with three previous failed banks to his name, sees the fall of this other bank as an assault on "indigenous capitalism", whatever that shit means.

Your stupidity means that when One Percenters talk, the only thing you'll remember is the inane and the mundane, like this nugget from an aspiring One Percenter: "Mafisi tibim!" If you have the effrontery, the temerity, the balls! to ask difficult questions, such as why a bank lent its directors more money than its shareholders invested in the bank, you will be dismissed by tame newsreaders as the cause of bad, bad things on social media.

Your stupidity is like a drug. The greater the extent of your stupidity, the ballsier the One Percenters get. There's one minuscule One Percenter wannabe who's spent the past three years (I hope he has, anyway) taking a keen interest in the history of a hunting lodge that became the Binnenhof that became a city of judges, who is hearing voices in his head. He's listening to those voices as they persuade him that in 2017, because of our stupidity, he will be a Senator...or a Governor! He isn't that far off; a man obsessed with another man's penis is "elected" unopposed, and a man who has more gold on his person than the now-empty vaults of a recently-dead bank, elected to the Senate in a landslide, has not just taken a keen interest in other men's penises, he would like a certificate of authenticity about certain penile surgical procedures from god-only-knows-who. The Minuscule One would probably fit right in.

You are stupid enough to not notice when you are being condescended to. You are too stupid to understand P & L statements, balance sheets, qualified and unqualified audited accounts, management letters, letters of credit, credit notes, bank supervision or bank regulation. Your stupidity is why, between 1986 and 1998, there were 24 bank failures. It is why venerable Kenyan institutions like KENATCO, Kenya National Assurance (remember the ditty? Kenya National Assurance, kwa bima ya maisha, Kenya National Assurance, ni kampuni ya taifaaa...), Uchumi Supermarkets and, lately, Kenya Airways, have become bywords for graft, grand theft and shareholder/customer misery.

Your stupidityour stupidityemboldens the One Percenters. When one of them, having lurked in the shadows of the civil service for ten minutes, decides to build two-billion-shilling castle in the middle of you village, and you say nothing because you are too stupid to know better, he becomes a harbinger of the scores who will come after him. If that castle is built using the stupidest labourers in the village, without the whispers that accompany such mysterious eruptions of Croesus-like fat stacks, every village on the ridge will sport just one like it, occupied by even more odious buccaneers.

Our stupidity exists only in the One Percenters' febrile imaginations. We may not swan around like Mughals, and we may not run the world like the tech-geeks of Silicon Valley, but not much gets past us. We may be cynical and jaded, but few of us think that the end is nigh. We have seen what we have seen, we have heard what we have heard and we have been afraid to speak up because that only leads to crushed testicles, but we aren't fools. Our patience is running thin. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and the last thing the One Percenters will want to be doing is to be holding the Silver Spoon.

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