In the last few months, some of Kenya’s school children have torched their schools for various reasons, known and unknown. Education leaders have shifted blame from one to the other; it is the cheating cartels, it is the lazy students, it is CS Matiang’i, it is the teachers etc. What about the Kenyan society at large? Are the cheating cartels or students asking for what we don’t do? Quick rewards without hard work?
My father, a man I love and respect as perhaps the only hardworking and honest man in Kenya will most likely quip “we are busy chopping the leaves of the trees, and watering the roots’’, ah! Such a futility. Some of the complaints from students as mentioned in the News include diet, an extended school year, national exam prayer day and so on. None of these complaints warrant burning a whole school. How did we end up with a generation of kids that believes asking them to be in school for an extra week is as bad as burning a school? Or that they should be allowed to cheat? We, the parents, leaders, politicians and clergy have shown them just that. We modeled it for them, and they took the lessons to heart. Why are we surprised?
Our homeland Kenya is a place where hard work and honesty are despised; we celebrate thieves, the corrupt, criminals and conmen. Why are we asking them to work hard, when all they see around them are people being praised for their scheming and lucrative corrupt deals? Are they not supposed to learn by example? You and I are the role models? We are going to vote for people accused of corruption to even higher offices? (Our children do not have voting rights yet, they are however observing). Former CS Anne Waiguru rings a bell? Anyone? She of the NYS scandal is being encouraged to now run for governorship. Our Vice President (or hustler for his admirers) has several Land scandals dogging him (from IDP Muteshi to children playgrounds) but in him we see a future president. The other day we were treated to a Jacob Juma funeral circus, with CORD claiming the government had ‘killed’ a man fighting corruption, a billionaire whose source of income was questionable – for instance suing the government for millions in breach of contract and winning, for a service he never delivered. A complete lack of conscience if we consider the public sector that was denied the said monies awarded to this ‘hero’. We saw politicians and clergy tripping over each other to show who could mourn loudest for this ‘hero’ Jacob Juma. Both sides of the political divide are simply rotten to the core.
Did I mention our rich pastors (Kanyaris, Kiunas) selling miracles to the downtrodden to fund their family vacation trips abroad? Kenyans do not see anything wrong with all these. It is God working in mysterious ways.
Looking at Kenya, the richest people seem to be politicians and the clergy (to be fair, there are still good men and women of God in Kenya). Let us ask ourselves, what is their trade? What is their talent? It does not involve the hard work that creates jobs or builds a nation. It is the mouth.
If the late Jacob Jumas, Anne Waigurus, VP Rutos are heros in Kenya’s lore, how do we tell our kids that backbreaking hard work is important? Our society is diseased. I believe this illness began sometime back in the Moi era when thinking and nation building was thrown out of the window.
We can arrest the kids all we want, we will set them free at some point, sending out there bitter and angry men and women. Or, we can do an honest self-evaluation as a nation and decide that out rot has to stop. That hard work and honest dealing is important for progress.
Good luck Kenya.
By Dr. A. M Sifuna | (firstname.lastname@example.org