Let’s Talk About the Gap Between Kenya’s Rich and Her Poor
Or is it too depressing – in mixed company?
By Dorcas S
Maybe you are among the 1% who have tenderpreneured their way into enough wealth and can afford to ignore the price of basic necessities such as rent, transportation, clothing and food.
As a one per center, maybe you can occasion beef, chicken or seafood 3-4x/week – with rice every other day. There is the fortnightly dinner at a favorite mid- to high-priced eatery in one of the tres cher leafy ‘burbs outside the CBD.
Not a problem since you can afford to hop on a plane to South Africa, India or a private room at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London to be tended by the best.
For your safety and security, not only do you have a license to pack heat – a gun, you probably have bodyguards replete with chase cars and the personal cellphone number of the officer-in-charge (OCP) of your local police sub-station.
Education for your progenies?
Again, the least of your worries. How does one of those General Certificate of Education-based “prep” schools or “academies” sound? You know, the ones with teacher-to-student ratios in the single digit? And their STEM Program? Oh my “fren” that stands for Science, Technology,
Engineering & Math!
Well let’s just say that these GCE-based programs have IT curriculums that are more wired and teachers more tech-savvy than the procurement department of the ministry that offer tenders that pay the six-digit tuition and “activity” fees; including “Foreign Language” electives and violin or dance lessons!
They also have a pipeline to some of the top universities – outside the country AND continent!
On the other end of the spectrum are the 99% who haven’t been able to score a tender to supply condom dispensers or a high-priced wheelbarrow; oftentimes to unknown customers. This is where an increasing majority of Kenyans are; the so-called “Wanjikus” who barely have enough to eat and when they do, it includes the staple ugali and requisite sukuma wiki (collard greens). Beef or chicken is served during special occasions, mainly Easter and Christmas.
When these 99% fall sick, they brave the lines at Kenyatta General Hospital or one of the many ill-equipped and ill-staffed Level This-n-That hospitals where each “free” service requires you to “toa kitu kidogo” to facilitate the “free” service. The so-called “free” prescriptions i.e. medicine are either expired or subject to – you guessed it – “kitu kidogo”.
And what happens when the major health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, failing kidneys, hip replacement or coronary by-pass befall Wanjikus, Atieno, Kativa et all? Well they are left at the mercy of fellow Kenyans. Fundraisers and M-PESA transactions flood the e-mails, WhatsApp groups and Facebook walls of friends and strangers. The lucky ones raise enough $$. There are those who get enough to take the trip outside Kenya for the procedure only to run out of funds. These folks are forced to send out urgent pleas, yet again, to family, friends and strangers. Unfortunately, there are also those unable to raise funds to pay for the procedures abroad. These “children of a lesser god” are indeed left to the vagaries of their gods.
The security that was promised by the Nyumba Kumi is still in the planning stages – please note the dripping sarcasm. Between trigger-happy policemen and “Wanjiku’” penchant for mob justice, Kenya’s 99% are at the mercy of cold heartless thugs – some in uniform, some using firearms “on loan” from the “utimishi kwa wote” crowd and some taking the opportunity to act out their violent proclivities.
If ever there was a silver lining on the plight of the country’s other half, it’s that whatever deity they pray to has imbued them with the same inalienable rights as their counterparts on the opposite end of the spectrum; the intellect to fully actualize themselves, to dream and dream big!
Kenya’s 99% also have more of a reason to work – harder oftentimes smarter than their 1% counterparts because they also believe that their dreams are just as valid.