By Albert Nyakundi Amenya – The Banana Peddler
Sometimes back, I was privileged to maintain a column in the Star Newspaper. In one of my editorials in 2015 April fool’s day, I jokingly declared Kenya a failed State. The joke triggered a tempest of arguments across the country. I was shocked to learn that majority of Kenyans from every nook and cranny concurred with me and that indeed, ours is a failed state already and that I said nothing new. So far, nothing has changed.
I remember one day morning I was bicycling in my neighborhood, an old friend stopped me and ungrudgingly berated me for writing the obvious. He expected something new.
Things are getting worse. We live in a failed state and yet we pretend that all will be well. This confirms the widespread belief that Kenyans are the most pretentious people on earth.
The reality, then, is that Kenyans especially during this festive season are going hungry but are ashamed to confess it. Many women have taken it to prostitution to make ends meet. Our young men are engaging in criminal activities like terrorism, fraud, armed robbery, kidnapping and shoplifting. Those who are too proud to violate their consciences have resorted to begging. In fact, others have sought solace in houses of prayers. Ours is a nation where many harbour extremely dangerous diseases but are too poor to seek remedy.
Kenya has become a nation of pretenders where people hide their problems in good clothing. Sometimes back, a friend of mine whose specialty is “making women happy” told me that undies like bra and pants tell a different story. I have often wondered why Kenyans don’t drop dead in the streets because of starvation. Now I know better.
We are a nation of pretenders. Walking in the streets of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa or Eldoret, I see faces coated with frustration. I see men and women in their 40s and 50s who clutch university degrees yet they are still unmarried. There are no suitors for our women because our men are not economically ready for them. Out of frustrations, Kenyans have turned to drugs like Indian hemp, Sheesha – whatever the spelling, cigarettes and alcohol abuse.
Nonetheless, everything has a climax. I always dare predict that due to the skyrocketing levels of unemployment, time is coming when youths will start shooting people on the streets. I have always said that apart from politics, unemployment will trigger another civil war in Kenya. The great surprise is that nobody cares to listen.
Schools have multiplied and are churning out unemployable graduates. Factories and industries that should have accommodated these school leavers have folded up.
Everyone expects to earn millions for doing nothing. Otherwise, decent Kenyans are shunning hard work because they witness their mates make jumbo monies from theft, government inflated tenders, politics and other criminal activities. Sincerely, finding dedicated employees is a giant headache to employers these days.
It surprises me that only a few now engage in honourable professions like masonry, plumbing, tailoring, carpentry and the like by choice. Where are Kenyan young farmers?
My understanding of the situation is that almost every Kenyan’s eye is fixed on sharing the national cake but not baking. Our constitution encourages this attitude through regional balancing. But that never happens though. There is a better formula for sharing the nation’s wealth that could restore peace and harmony.
This country loses close to one Ksh 1billion every year through corruption and other dubious means. Since we are highly obsessed with sharing, why can’t we try another formula that would be more beneficial the people? Our nation is rich enough to pay social security benefits to every jobless Kenyan aged 18 and above.
I do not expect such Kenyans to exceed 30 million out of a total population of 45 million. If 500 million is shared among 30 million Kenyans, each would get around Ksh16, 000.
And let those working in the private sector augment their Ksh16, 000 with the fruit of their hard work. He who works harder must earn more.
Through this plan, politics will become less attractive and corruption will end. Social justice will banish the jealousy and inequality that breed criminals.
(The writer sells Bananas in the streets of Kisii town)