By Wandia Njoya via FB
Kenyans can’t see academics as elites. They give academics the right to be invisible. When academics say something, Kenyans take it as “objective” and true. Kenyan academics are essentially God.
That’s why after everything I said about the elite memorization of Mau Mau, people are talking about the Mau Mau. Not the elites.
Universities are cheating Kenyans. They are. They are giving life to bad and destructive narratives which politicians take and weaponize. But we still can’t see it.
Last year, I gave a talk to a Masters class (yep, I don’t teach post-graduates; I give one lesson talks), where I told students to stop quoting academics like they are God. Academics are people whose ideas are influenced by their personal stories and historical realities. So don’t just quote Hayek’s economics without knowing that the guy was a loser before he was rescued by the Nobel Prize. Or quote post-colonial theory without understanding that it was set up by migrant academics in elite universities giving imperialism a free pass.
Accepting what academics say is how our political class keeps pushing myths. In my research on “boy child” I was surprised to see that it first passed through the academic laundromat before politicians repeated it. Same with Mau Mau myth. It started with academics before it graduated to being used by the Mt Kenya mafia.
So next time you see a Dr so and so talking about a policy, don’t assume what they are saying is politically neutral. I have been very open about my political biases which are pro-people, anti-aristocracy and anti-state. And I’ve been saying that any big topic needs public academic debate from clear and different positions. Everything from the covid vaccine, mental health, CBC and Mau Mau history has clear and different positions.
But in Kenya, academics don’t debate. We do the “collective responsibility” which is actually suffocating. In fact when you disagree with a Kenyan academic, they get surprised and you start doing a dance around words that were used, rather than the substance of what was said. The pro-government side is always shielded from debate. That’s why Kenyan academics seem like they all think the same and there is only one position.
No. We don’t all agree. And you can be sure that any time a Kenyan academic is using big words to support GoK policy, Wandia here can give you the fununu of that policy. Because I check that stuff and I know where to check. And those narratives behind government policy are always the same.
Stop trusting academics like gods. They’re human beings.