Do you recall the talk of ‘matunda ya uhuru’? If you do, you likely belong to my generation – the ‘Uhuru Generation”. The younger ones have no clue; and ‘uhuru’ means nought to them. Few have anything to celebrate for Kenya’s hard worn independence. Joblessness, hopelessness, glaring inequalities, injustice, name it! Yet, did it have to be this way? Is this what the forefathers (and mothers) who fought gallantly to free us from bondage of colonialism envisioned?
Perhaps no one could put the ‘matunda ya uhuru’ mantra better than late Minister Oloitiptip. I still vividly recall, growing up as a young man – university student: hearing of the Minister spending KSh 2 million on the wedding of one of his reportedly roughly 65 children. If he was to
spend the same on each of them, we would be talking of about KSh 130 million, easily equivalent to today’s KSh 1 billion plus, just on children’s weddings alone. At that time, for some of us, our parents had to struggle to raise just fare to ferry us through “OTC Bus” from rural homes to Nairobi. Then, only Nairobi boasted of universities!
Fast forward to today: if you belong to the class of ‘chosen few’, you would wonder, like Oloitiptip: what’s wrong with Kenyans? Can’t they just partake of ‘matunda ya uhuru’? Literally, perhaps! The Uhuru administration has blown off the public debt to levels like no other before. Yet, have the returns been commensurate? To all citizens? Certainly not. Woo unto ye if you are not a former ‘somebody’: president, vice, prime minister, etc. The lucrative retirement perks, complete with retinue of body guards and at times, chase cars can underwhelm. You would think they own Kenya. Even when a majority of Kenyans can barely put food on the table! And there are those who have been in government with access to the perks for the longest, even when supposedly in opposition!
Even the one-time MPs (some call them MPigs) aren’t lucky either. The very people born with a silver spoon deny them even basic pension granted by parliament. Given the established fact of two-thirds of MPs being voted out each cycle, they should have ganged up to force this law to come into being, and overturn the President’s rejection of the Bill. They’ll sooner realize what a squandered opportunity it was!
It is worse for the younger ones; the off-springs of the privileged few consider it an entitlement. They splash around their cash and bling bling as if they are from higher gods! One would think it pays to be on the wrong side of history, to be opportunistic, to be a home-guard and align with the oppressor.
One can be forgiven to think there are two worlds a part: one struggling to eke a living. The other changing flashy cars and splashing cash to unsuspecting, cheering crowds as if there is no tomorrow. Take heed – the children of the lesser god might just one day wake up and say enough is enough. Yet the leaders seem to care only about themselves, families and buddies. They appear completely oblivious of the anger and pain afflicted on the commoners. They now even imagine Kenyans aren’t intelligible enough to chart their own future!
The level of apprehension and disillusionment is legion. One need not look beyond the level of apathy in potential young voters who instead elect not to register, especially in the so-called strong-holds of the major political formations. The disenchantment is even more pronounced among Kenyans abroad. The same can be deduced from the uncharacteristically high numbers of undecided voters reported daily by pollsters. Yet to stay away from the vote is simply to allow the charlatans to keep running amok, and driving the country aground!
This is why all eligible Kenyans of goodwill able to register, must take the vote, and when the time comes cast it decisively to reject bad leaders. Hopefully, more options that are credible enough to restore the dignity of the Kenyan, and give the country back to Kenyans will emerge to choose from. A Kenya that is just, free, equitable, prosperous and cohesive. A Kenya where merit and excellence rule, not paternalism, banditry, clientelism and greed.