By Alberto Nyakundi Amenya aka Banana Peddler aka The Banana Peddler
Recently, while on a flight to Mombasa, I was privileged to share seats with award winning English investigative journalist named Andrew Norfolk. Norfolk was on a one week Kenyan tour of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisii, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru. He works for The Times, one of the leading British media houses.
I told him I am a local journalist based in Nairobi and I esteem his exceptional talent in investigative journalism.
No sooner had we introduced ourselves than he asked me a question that discombobulated my integrity:
“All these funny stuff I hear and read about missing 156 billion shillings that are supposed to help COVID-19 victims, kindly tell me, is it really true that these billions are stolen or they grow wings and fly? Initially the government of Kenya used to say that the thief is the Deputy President of Kenya Dr. William Ruto but I am told he was side-lined from the management of government finances”
I looked completely lost and I lacked what to say. From my countenance, one could tell that I answered in the affirmative. My expression gave me away.
He then added “Now that Ruto is not active in government and does not access public money, who is stealing these billions? Who is the government blaming this time when the so called thief is not around? Is your system that porous that it can allow such a jumbo sleaze on the commonwealth?”
When the discussion became more embarrassing, I quickly asked him whether this was his first time in Kenya. In so doing, I successfully changed the topic. Nonetheless, although I gained some momentary reprieve, I never stopped chewing over his pesky questions all through the flight. I was sure that an investigative journalist of his standing would not hurriedly cast aspersions on the Kenyan government by subscribing to rumours. I was stupidly sure that his utterances never complete without buttressing them with facts.
The situation I faced through that flight is an example of what many Kenyans face across the world on daily basis.
You see, I always tell you Kenya is peopled with special humans that always adapt to any kind of situation life brings their way. I am convinced that Kenyans something in their DNA that defies defeat. We have a powerful antivirus that automatically deletes any harmful virus that can result in system shut down. There is no country on planet earth that can be robbed this way and still survive. Our National leaky bucket has a thousand holes.
The only problem here in this country is that people used to steal but blame it on one person; William Ruto. Now that Ruto is not anywhere close to the government coffers, they have nobody to blame for their theft but themselves. They have shamelessly done it repeatedly until even foreigners like Norfolk are sympathizing with us.
The most dangerous tragedies that hobble other nations happen in this country and we shrug them off. We don’t lose our bounce. No nation can live with this. What life throws at the common Mwananchi, he complains, protests but eventually accommodates it. This is a unique country of unique people. A rich county of poor people.
(The writer sells bananas in the streets of Kisii)