Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Bhang, piranhas and false promises

It's maddeningly hard to pick someone to lead who will do what he says he will do. It's twice as hard to do so when the social mechanisms of identifying and empowering that person have been hollowed out by decades of social, political and economic corruption. It is nigh on impossible to do so when the people who should do the identifying and guide the people in the empowering are themselves the epitome of corruption. What one ends up with in such a triple-threat situation is a world where backroom deals supersede the will of voters.

For better or worse, kenya's political framework is founded on political parties. Political parties are supposed to organise the people in decision-making units capable of identifying suitable political leaders, and electoral candidates, and guiding the discourse on political, social, economic and other issues of importance in order to arrive at a settlement that is broadly popular. A casual scan of the Kenyan political party environment reveals a deeply illegitimate system that is easily manipulated to elevate the voices, and interests, of liars, cheats, charlatans, ne'er-do-wells, thieves, looters, rapists, child molesters and murderers.

Professional bodies and associations have suffered a similar fate and as a result, have become part of the patchwork of entities that serve the interests of the people who have the least interest in building a better nation. The lawyers' body, once at the vanguard of articulating the constitutional issues at the heart of nationhood and governance, has become an irrelevant institution more interesting in extracting ever-heftier fees from its members and ever-higher rents from the State. The doctors', dentists' and medical practitioners' union is more interested in protecting killer-medical practitioners of all stripes so long as they can pay the fees necessary to remain in good standing with their peers. Accountants have been at the heart of every financial scandal yet their professional institute only thinks of drawing up a scale of fees for its members to extract even higher fees from clients. Engineers and architects, you ask. Killer roads and collapsing buildings should tell you all you need to know about these hyenas.

Little is different when you look to the faith-based network of faith ministries and charities. Major ministries of faith have spent several decades in Kenya building up a real estate and investment portfolio to rival the State and in exchange have struck a Faustian pact with the State to not pay taxes on their profits and to leave them to internally deal with the ever-louder accusations of child sexual molestation by ministers of faith.

Heartbreak and disappointment too face us when it comes the Third Sector - NGOs, PBOs, CSOs - civil society. One "leading human rights organisation" has had the same man as its chairman for thirty years. If he were Zimbabwean, only Robert Gabriel Mugabe would rival him for longevity in a position of power. While there is an admirable turnover in leadership in other civil society organisations, they have become complacent, part of the spend-spend-spend cabal snuffling the truffle of the national treasuries without a care int he world in the name of "the people". The number of Kenyan civil society organisations (and some international ones) running for-profit businesses in Kenya is growing by the day - all the while, the people they purport to speak for, suffer and die in penury, misery and pain.

How then can Kenyans be expected to pick someone other than an impeached former governor, the spouse of a former governor accused of murder, a former governor indicted for corruption, a former minister found to have sexually abused several children, a parliamentarian who escaped justice after killing someone by reckless driving, a parliamentarian whose rise to fame is highly publicised sexual exploits...how? Not even the Fourth Estate can help; it no longer tells stories but sells "content" for a hefty price. The more lurid the content the higher the profit. It is no surprise that what used to be journalism is merely a vehicle for promoting mobile-based gambling businesses, fly-by-night real estate investments, soft-core pornography and the wildly reckless political promises of liars, cheats, charlatans, ne'er-do-wells, thieves, looters, rapists, child molesters and murderers.

We are left with a small pool of sharp-toothed piranha to pick from knowing full well that regardless of the size of the one we pick, we will end up stripped of our moral flesh to the bone. No wonder someone promising political heaven on the back of sales of hyena testicles, snake venom, dog meat and bhang has caught the imagination of the half-educated jobless young people.

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