Tuesday, July 31, 2018

We are human

Most Kenyan adults are not infant-like. They are sensible women and a few men. They hold down, tenuously sometimes, gainful employment. They pay, if their incomes warrant it, their taxes. The found families. They are respected members of the community, for the most part. Few of them still have the child-like curious wonder that leads them to foolhardy stunts like attempting to pet lions or hand-feed buffaloes in the wild. They are, in other words, sensible people who keep a healthy distance from wildlife and don't allow child-like exuberance to lead them to ruination.

The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife is not one of those sensible Kenyans. He allows fits of pique to guide his tongue. And when his tongue is lubricated by high dudgeon, he lets slip the mask that Kenyan nawabs wear to hide their incivility, their hubris, their boys'-club mta-do-ness. The CS, every now and and then, is a manifestation of the contempt he and his colleagues hold other Kenyans. You can almost hear them doing everything in their power to suppress their innate desires to use terms such as "serf" to describe their fellowman.

It must chomp his butt that Kenya, officially anyway, is a democratic republic in which citizens' rights are protected by the Constitution including the freedom to demand that senior civil servants, like CSs, should be held to account for their acts of omission, commission and stupidity. For decades now it has been impossible to get a word in edgewise whenever questions of public policy have been raised or when the aftermath of the implementation of policies has led to tragedy. Bwana CS came of age when the citizen-serf was to be seen, some of the time, but never to be heard at all. Any citizen-serf that piped up invited the mkono wa serikali to straighten him out post haste. He still can't appreciate that those days, though not completely gone, are being erased with the rough sandpaper of a citizen-driven political and constitutional awakening that, in the fullness of time, will see him and his colleagues accounting for their acts of omission, commission and stupidity in very public and very humiliating ways. It is only a matter of time.

But we must ask: how come Kenya has been cursed by so many petulant political leaders, incapable of keeping their rage on short leashes, allowing it to guide their tongues into the most revelatory explosions? Mr Go-To-Hell is not the first senior civil servant to explode with contempt at the people seeking to hold him to account. He is merely the latest, and saddest. (Sad because he has been forced to swallow his words in public even though he hedged, hemmed and hawed about how he is only human" as if the rest of us are stoic rocks against whom the frustrations of life merely chip and shatter.)
If we were to take out our frustrations on the people who have engineered those frustrations, Mr Nobody-Has-Appointed-Me and his colleagues, and the minions that do their bidding, would we be justified in saying that we are but humans when their palaces lie in ruins? Will they accept our excuses as their Prados are smoking husks in the car parks of their golf clubs? Will they hell!

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