Politicians Riding Kenyans' Backs
I am one of the great admirers of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's oratory. Every speech that Dr. King gave had messages that also ring true today. One of Dr. King's key messages was: "A man can't ride your back unless it's bent." Kenyan backs have bent over in terms of justice, famine and education. Kenyans must take back this country from the "back riders."
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In the corridors of justice, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's exclusive interview with Nation (Saturday Nation, January 15, 2011) was revealing. On Ambassador Francis Muthaura and Major General (rtd) Hussein Ali; he asserted that: "These individuals were acting in the course of their own professional calling… for instance, if you get injured at your place of work, you are entitled to compensation in line with the Workman's Compensation Act…The two were working on behalf of the country ... we must stand by them."
If one took the Vice President's word seriously, he was indirectly telling Kenyans, that the government is guilty of the atrocities committed during the 2007/08 post election violence and it will use your money to defend itself. As far as Kenyans are concerned, Ambassador Francis Muthaura and Major General (rtd) Hussein Ali are innocent until proved guilty; our good VP has pointed out where the guilt is.
In the corridors of famine afflicting Kenyans; the government apparently has billions set aside for defense of the controversial list of suspects to International Criminal Court but has to fundraise close to Ksh 42 billion to feed its people. Reports indicate that the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) outlets have run out of money to buy maize as hundreds of farmers queue at the NCPB depots. It is the work of donors and NGOs to feed the hungry whilst the political elites ride people's backs to state power.
For farmers, the government is riding their backs literally. According to Crop Life Foundation, an African woman walks 10 kilometers in a stooped position to weed one hectare of land. To remove weeds using handheld hoes, a farmer needs an estimated 60 hours per hectare.
In the corridors of education; the Millennium Development Goals experiment on education has been challenged by a surge in private schools outshining public ones. While parents want quality education, the government and its sponsors want numbers! The dispute between the government's admission criteria that compromises performance for affirmative action is a clear indicator that Kenyans need to look inward in terms of what their children are offered as education. The political class is riding Kenyan backs through poor quality public schools for the masses.
If Dr. King was to visit Kenya today, he would countenance close to 48 million Kenyans with bent backs in the fields. Riding the "Kenyalins" would be individuals with great titles such as professor of this and that, honorable this and that and so forth. What would shock our great orator are the type of messages stoop-walking Kenyans are fed with in the market place of the media. King would be amazed at why no one asked the vice president whether he was accusing the government of the Republic of Kenya as the main perpetrator of Post Election Violence. He would be amazed that the government does not take collective responsibility for those who die of famine (that is assumed to be nature's guilt). Finally, and most shocking will be the little or no investment in designing a "software" that ought to launch the country into first world economic status. To get the excess and stressing baggage off Kenyans backs, each citizen must simply stand up.
By James Shikwati
The author email@example.com is Director of Inter Region Economic Network
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