CAN WE EVER DISCARD THE BEGGING BOWL?
By Gilbert Kenya
The United Arab Emirates – a desert nation – has donated food to Kenya, a country which boasts that Agriculture is the backbone of its economy! Who bewitched us?
Our problem is too obvious. We always get it wrong in terms of choosing visionary leaders and ensuring that we force their hand to do what’s right, like any self-respecting nation ought to do.
We allow egotistic and irreparably corrupt idiots to lead us right from the political front to our hallowed corridors of the academia, but still hope that all shall be well. Why do we keep doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, but expect different results?
Today, any imbecile with deep enough pockets and a loud running mouth can easily buy political power in Kenya, regardless of the source of his/her wealth. And here we are wondering why the country is stuck in a rut! Our systems are totally rotten and compromised. Few people in positions of influence think of the common good anymore.
Yesterday, I was seated in some joint, next to two university professors, and I had to pinch myself several times just to make sure that what I was hearing was real, not a dream. Eavesdropping is not one of my favourite pastimes, but what they were discussing instantly caught my attention. They talked in hushed tones but I was near enough to clearly get what they were saying.
The two dons went on and on boasting how they’ve swindled research money. I was astonished to learn that they were talking about grants donated by foreign well-wishers, when they mentioned the Bill Gates foundation and something about KARI.
One of them proudly proclaimed how he made two million from a recent project, before the donor withdrew the funding, probably after suspecting misuse of the grants. As their drink got the better of them, they kept boasting of their corrupt exploits and the one doing much of the talking revealed how sometime ago he was surprised to discover some good money lying in his bank account, only to realise that it was his share of the research spoils that had been sent there by whoever was in charge of the project they were “working” on.
I flinched when I thought that these are the people we’re banking on to fix the perennial hunger problem in the country, through innovative Agricultural practices, enabled by proper Agricultural research. God Himself has to come down and save his people.
I was so nauseated and felt like confronting the two idiots and physically assaulting them, but then the reality hit me hard. Right there, seated before me, sipping an expensive drink, was the embodiment of what ails this country. What I heard was an absolute eye opener. It made me realise that the malaise of runaway corruption in this country is deeper than we always imagine, and nobody can be fully trusted.
Utter selfishness and the deeply entrenched “my chance to eat” culture of those in positions of influence can never allow this country to effectively deal with the calamities that afflict us year in year out. We the commoners are merely surviving in a completely rotten system; rotten from the head all the way down.
Is it any wonder then, that we are running to desert countries, begging bowl in hand, as our people feed on drought ravaged, animal carcasses and wild roots? The big question still remains; when are we planning to discard the begging bowl?
Only us the people can fix the system. We need a paradigm shift from the helpless victim mentality and the chronic Stockholm Syndrome that afflicts us. We all love our big thieves. Simply sharing our mother tongue with them is enough to placate us. Isn’t it?
We must wake up and start thinking how we can execute a complete overhaul in our governance systems. That is the bare minimum of what we must urgently do, if things are to change in this country.