By Albert Nyakundi Amenya aka Banana Peddler
I have been wondering why rich people of Kenya reach for the airport to seek for treatment abroad at the first sign of illness. Now I know why. Three days ago, a friend of mine who is also a banana seller lost his wife to a Kenyan doctor in a Kenyan Referral Hospital. The poor lady died after receiving no attention for close to 23 hours.
When she arrived at the hospital, there were arguments among nurses on who should attend to her. Others were denying on the basis that they were on the night shift and that it was almost time for them to go home. Others nurses were busy updating their status on social media. By good luck, a young doctor wearing headphones with which he enjoyed some music emerged. He started by asking the tired patient a barrage of irrelevant questions until she got fatigued and gave up the ghost.
I have, in this space, said time without number made references to the incompetence of some doctors found in our capital city Nairobi. I have as well made reference to the attitude of hospital workers including pharmacists, nurses, receptionists and cleaners who treat patients like criminals. This has become a country where health workers are synonymous with strikes. The supposed life savers are only after your money.
I am really not questioning the credentials of most of Kenyan doctors. But you see, sometimes back when people were serious in this country, only bright students were admitted to read medical courses. Likewise, there were equally brilliant professors in the faculties of medicine across our nation. These professors would not let anyone cut corners and graduate in medicine until they are found truly worthy in character and learning. But not anymore.
Currently, people like myself question quality of training, both moral and academic, our MB, B.S. graduates get. No one cares about the Hippocratic Oath. These days, very few students are admitted to read courses like medicine, architecture and law without bribing some criminals in Kenyan universities. Until 20-25 years ago, it was difficult for more than half of the class to qualify and graduate. And since these days no one fails an exam or repeats a course because of corruption and sexual favor in exchange of grades, society has to bear the brunt of corruption in full. This is just the beginning; we are yet to see the worst.
We are living in a country where young men seek for jobs in order to earn salary and not to work. This is because we are paying for the sins of the exam-cheating that we encouraged. As parents, we gave out money that bought all the papers that were supposed to be done by our children in KCSE in advance and as a result, they “passed with flying colours” and got admitted into campus. It is our “exam cheating” graduates that have made poor engineers, poor doctors and poor journalists and poor teachers.
But doctors are not the only culprits. In fact, things are worse in my own profession: Language and communication. The only relief is that incompetence in journalism or writing does not lead to deaths. Journalism or writing is no longer a profession in Kenya. Anyone claims to be a writer even if they write incomprehensible things. It is these great “writers” who occupy the top most positions in Kenya’s public service.
The situation is the same in our leading media houses where half-baked editors okay publications that encompass abominable errors. Every day, we watch and listen to English murderers on TV and on radio. But you dare not point out their mistakes. They’ll lynch you.
I have attempted to read dailies published by leading media houses and some books written by distinguished professors (who obviously need no editors) but could not go beyond paragraph one on account of nauseating errors. Recently while taking my 7-year old daughter to school, her tea teacher handed me a class 3 textbook containing monstrous errors right from its preface. There and then, I grabbed my phone and dialed the publisher at the back cover page. The man on the other end (Industrial Area) told me they had made use of the best editors and that the book was confirmed to be error-free. I immediately felt sorry for my child because she was being misled by her teachers and books at an early stage.
It does not matter that buildings are collapsing across Kenya. Our “Tested” and “Trusted” engineers are performing miracles using sub-standard building materials at sites that are obviously supervised by bribe-seeking civil servants. Until about the year 1995, I did not hear of a building collapse in Kenya. But these days, it happens several times especially during rainy seasons.
Regretfully, when a building collapses, innocent people are buried alive in the ruble for no fault of theirs. Each year, thousands of lives are wasted in our shoddily made and poorly maintained roads because money meant for rehabilitation is stolen routinely by some gangsters.
Perhaps, the killing of my friend’s wife by Kenyan doctors does not matter too. But dare say that in front of her hubby and her other loved ones and they eat you alive. One after the other, we are in one way or another, paying the price of incompetence and corruption. When elections are stolen, we get bad leaders. When mediocrity takes the place of meritocracy, standards are compromised. Parents who encourage who encourage their children to cheat during exams should be prepared to condone them when they become armed robbers. Let those greedy people who value money more than their fellow humans get ready to be buried by their money someday when they die.
(The writer sells bananas in the streets of Kisii Town)