Just the other day I boarded a Kenya Bus and sat next to a middle aged man and woman. It was clear that they didn’t know each other and yet just after a minute or two they were deep in conversation. Of Course being my usual nosy self, I perked up my ears to try and catch a few remarks. Turned out the topic of conversation was three young children who had been killed because of their parents’ political aspirations. As usual I don’t really watch the news nor do I read newspapers, so I faithfully visited my news page (Twitter) and looked for the story myself. So now am really engrossed in this article about how these three kids came from church and went missing only to be found a few days later dead and dumped in a river. At this point I have to commend the media because for once we do not have gory photos of the crime to accompany the story, they always seem to have a strong penchant for this, I don’t know if it sells the story more or what.
In my absence from this two and a half way conversation, of course now I feel part of it though I do not utter a single word this whole time, the story has moved now to how cruel and barbaric that was as the kids had no inkling whatsoever of what is going on. I am just there nodding on to my self and telling the voices in my head how I wish the perpetrators meet a nasty end and how this was uncalled for as these kids don’t even understand politics. A small round of cheers to us all for such an important input, then now we are back again to how politics has become a dangerous game in the country. The lady mentions another aspiring leader who met an untimely demise and the man agrees and says “Hawa politicians wamekuwa too much ata, mtu akishinda ameshinda tulia ungoje next time.” Right now I feel like giving this guy a pat on the shoulder but the lady interjects before I can even raise my hand from where am holding on too tightly to my purse (46 buses n pickpockets smh). She states that other than the fact a country needs leaders for representation at the global front, she doesn’t see anything that they really do for the country as a whole.
This is the point now where I totally check out of the conversation because of just that one statement. It seems like a callous enough remark, but when she said it there was a tone of hopelessness and despair in her voice. This is a conversation between us normal citizens and it pains me that we have no hope whatsoever or expectations from our government, yet come every election year we stand in queues for hours on end just to put the same kind of people back in office. So I start to think, is it that we do not have better people, is it the lack of proper civic education to all or is there really something more? By now the the voices are quiet, they don’t seem to be too fond of serious talk or thoughts.
So what is the root of this disease we call bad leaders? Why is there not a single one who endeavors to put the people’s needs before everything else? Why is it that despite each and every single person knowing the truth, we have this year had the largest number of candidates yet? Why does everyone think that becoming a politician solves all problems? Why is it that everyone is taking serving the public as a job opportunity and not a chance to do good and make a change?
A lady gets into the bus selling peanuts, making me raise my head from the deep thoughts I’d had (just that dumb mouth agape gazing look) and next words I hear are from the man saying that the same politicians don’t even know your salary or how you survive. That’s when it hits me, Survival, that’s what is wrong with all of us. We are all striving for survival. From an early age we are all taught to strive for personal success and achievements. We are told that from this is where we will receive true happiness and accomplishment in life. In high school we all have The Darwinian theory drummed into us and it soon becomes a mantra etched on our foreheads and spurring us all on in life. Survival for the fittest has now become the driving force behind a whole nation.
I think back to when all this started with aspirants faking kidnaps just to gunner sympathy votes and I can’t help but think that they woke up this vicious monster. They put these ideas of kidnappings into perpetrators heads, showed them a way to get what they wanted. A country with enough resources to sustain all of us in a suitable manner has now become a country full of people who don’t know the meaning of the word enough as all that’s pushing them now is the slow chant More! More! More! (I hear the echoes in my mind as the voices do a nice lay over of the chant hah! So they are still there.)
This need and desire for more is seen all over the world yes, but in most places we still have a few tree hugging philanthropists and minimalists. And yes most importantly, we also have in these other countries a certain sense of patriotism that our dear country seems to lack. This reminds me immediately of how the Americans are always chanting USA! Even if it’s to playing beer pong or doing something equally stupid. But disdaining as the chant may sound to other people, it conveys one strong message from one American to another, ‘we are rooting for you, your success is our success, your achievements give our country more pride and glory. Indians form the largest number of immigrants all around the world and even away from their own motherland they still have a unity we can only envy. Not only do they live together as a community, if one of them is in need of help, they all come together to try their best and help.
We as a country seem to lack this in all we do. Even in our simplest tasks we all seem to be eager to do things only because we will gain a certain footing from the achievement and if not, then it is that we are afraid of breaking the rules. Think I am wrong? Tell me when was the last time you decided not to throw out a piece of paper, not because it was against the law to litter, but because you know that that’s just a little part of our beautiful country you will have defaced? When was the last time you decided that you would let someone else pass you in traffic, say a matatu, not because you are afraid of the nice paint job on your car being scratched but because you understand not only his hustle for more trips but also that there are others like you in a hurry but just lacking the personal comfort you have so its better to let them hurry through and get out of the crammed vehicle faster.
It’s time we sat down and stopped thinking ten out of ten times how can I better myself and my move forward to thinking at least once a day how have I helped the country or someone next to me? This is why it becomes so easy for a policeman to collect a bribe, the renumeration is more his goal. Instead if we could have a policeman stop a crime or offense not just to filch off the perpetrator or to follow the law, but to stop a criminal and hence reduce the rate of crime in his home country for a more positive future. Only when we do this can we then say that we have received true enlightenment.
This is where we are, where our personal gain means more to us than our national gain. We forget that if the nation gains then we also reap the fruits. This right here is the cause of our number one disease, bad leadership, because we as the Kenyan citizens will never be patriotic enough to ask the same of our leaders, Patriotism. We cannot ask of others what we ourselves do not poses and in doing so, we give our leaders leeway to go on being bad selfish leaders because that’s our own way of life. We are the root to the problem and we need to make ourselves accountable causing a chain reaction around us of accountability with the hope that with time it will reach our leaders and drive them to do the same.
This is where we are as a country and its a personal downfall that even after colonization and oppression we do not know the importance of standing by each other and being patriotic. This is where we are now but I believe that we can slowly move from this and make this country stand out and prosper. This is where we are and this is the only way we can get rid of bad leadership. So next time you teach your child a valuable lesson try and make it so that they realize the importance of Patriotism and that they may become selfless people later on because truth be told it’s about time we had a selfless leader in this country.