By Wandia Njoya
Kenyans wonder how come it is that we don’t get enraged enough by injustice to put a stop to it. The simple answer is hegemony.
Hegemony is the dominance of ideas of the ruling class that dominates social institutions. You see, the ruling elite know we don’t like them. They also know that relying on Godec and the police is not enough to force us to tolerate them. It is cheaper. for them to manipulate our minds by reinforcing their ideas in each institution we go to.
1..listen to government, they tell we they bring development and that politics will take us nowhere.
2. the media will bring business news that announces the next new loan as “infrastructure development.”
3. schools will teach us junk economics about development dependind on foreign investors and foreign tourists.
4. Private sector will tell us that you getting trash education that is not practical and that you need to go to TVET to build the roads, or you need to become entrepreneurs.
5. the church will tell you not to be ungrateful for God blessing us with such wise leaders, and that we should reconcile, forgive and forget
6. The social media bots will call us keyboard warriors and ask us what our solution is.
The ideas of the ruling elite are so widespread that eventually they feel natural. That’s why when you question some economic policies, a Kenyan will robotically say ” but Kenya is a capitalist country, ” as if there is any policy document that says so or any decision that was made. That’s what “natural” means.
Unfortunately, we are not yet out of there yet. “Bora uhai” is deeply rooted in the psyche of Kenyan society. And you know how the ruling elite has reinforced it? By telling us that however bad things are, you are better than someone else. That’s the myth of Kenyan exceptionalism, which is based on the acceptance of the racist idea that African is a continent of savages. So Kenyans believe they are an island of peace in a sea of chaos, and then the tribes closer to the railway, especially the Kikuyu, are told they would be doing worse if they came from a pastoralist community.
So Julius Malema wasn’t just talking. For the next few years, we need to de-worm Kenyan minds, ESPECIALLY the minds of Kenyans who have gone to school. They are the most affected.
In the meantime, Kenyans are finding local terms to name oppression:
1. Uthamaki = white supremacy/hegemony
2. Tujiangalie = neoliberal term for “blame the victim,” or “private solution to public problems”
3. Bora uhai = a term for accepting that Africa is so bad, that any trash thrown at you in Kenya is OK because you could be worse than poor Tanzanians and Somalis