Sunday, June 10, 2018

Who stole from Shujaa Pride?

One of the funniest things I read today was about how mad the President's Chief of Staff and the headboy of the Kenya Rugby Union were because the members of Kenya's Sevens' team covered over the sponsor's name on their team jerseys when they absolutely flattened Fiji in France last night. Apparently, team Kenya covered the words "Make it Kenya", for which they were paid by Brand Kenya to wear, because their allowances from the sponsorship monies hadn't been paid by KRU. What was amusing is that it is the men who sweated it out on the pitch that were wrong - not the men who collected money on their behalf and refused to pay our athletes what they were rightfully owed.

In Kenya it is of vital importance that Government and its various sclerotic appendages are not embarassed, no matter how badly their officers act or how crooked their dealings are. It is the patriotic duty of every Kenya to ensure that Government always saves face - or at least it seems as if it is expected to be our patriotic duty. If the emperor has no clothes on then Godammit, it's you patriotic duty to pretend that he is wearing the finest three-piece suit from a Saville Row tailor.

It is why our rugby heroes will face the sharp end of the stick when they jet back into the country. How dare they show up the feckless penny-ante thievery of the men appointed to look after their welfare? How dare they show such disrespect to Brand Kenya and, by extension, Government by showing it up for failing or refusing to pay them their allowances? How dare they tell the whole rugby world that Government doesn't pay its dues? How dare they?!

If there is one thing that has allowed the war on corruption to seem like a lost cause, it is this instinct to protect public officers and the institutions they manage. It is why cover-ups are so easy in Kenya: don't embarass the boss has been elevated to a cardinal truth. It takes years and a brave whistleblower before the truth is ever known, by which time billions have been pilfered, frittered, and, all in all, remain unaccounted for. If the brave Sevens' team hadn't highlighted the fact that public funds, expended ostensibly on their behalf, had gone missing, would Kenyans have ever found out? I doubt it. Instead of Messrs Waita and Omwela losing their rags over the minor rebellion by the athletes, they must ask themselves what were the circumstances that prevented our hard-working and quite talented athletes from receiving their dues.  In short, who stole from Shujaa Pride?

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