City Council askari

From the earliest years of Nairobi, need to have a working council to manage the town had been a fore front necessity. From the early 1900s when the Indian community settled in Nairobi, what is now Biashara street, organisation was embraced. The Bubonic plague that swept the city, leading to the first massive fire to Scotch the young town (as a solution to rid it off the plague) is only testament to the willingness to maintain the city. One would think the city is cursed, what with all the disasters that have occurred in an uncanny succession.

Fast forward to 2016,the year of our lord. The century has had a toll and now we brag of a city council with workers from parking fee collectors, road sweepers, statement takers and the notorious pick up drivers. Most recently, not known of their official position we hear tales of the muscle men (the badass ‘Kanju’) These are the guys who warrant a second look, if for nothing for caution lest they mistake your luggage to be wares you were apparently peddling on the roadside. They are said to come as a wave; clearing all wares on sale along the roadside left in a hurry by the horror stricken hawkers. The logic here is to have the individual hawker to follow the pickup to the police station, Central Police station and ask for his/her property. It’s best to point out that no-one ever walks in and out with any kind of properties without parting with something /everything or a chunk of your time, resources and unlimited might.

Reclining into my seat after a hearty ugali-nyama meal (finger licking Kenyan cuisine) I watch as KTN releases an investigative piece into the ‘Kanju’ menace. Apparently the ‘muscle’ guys mentioned above (again official positions unknown beyond collecting money from hawkers and small scale shops) have been terrorising those who stand up for themselves refusing to part with the imposed fee. Noteworthy is that the official statement from the Governor of Nairobi is ‘Don’t give them the money!’ why haven’t we thought of this? (pun intended)

Terrorise! Yes you heard that right! They apparently walk around on a daily picking certain amounts from small shops and hawkers, 50/-, 100/-, 200/- per shop/individual. The expos√© detailed this as such a normal occurrence in the city such that the few who stood up against them ended up in hospital ICUs and six feet under. So much for having a titanium set of balls and fighting for your rights! Surprising that they have had the time to install a parallel rule of law,complete with a death sentence. The have flourished and made it a new norm, such that only a handful refuse to part with the ‘fee’, the few who we see in ICUs and attend their burials. Have your mafia bells jiggled yet?

Mouth agape I watch as a ‘normal Kenyan’ records a vile, port bellied ,loud exploiter insisted on the number of notes he wants all the while gobbling down a bottle of Coca Cola. Not in a hurry or hiding, why should he? He is the government. The patriot recording hides his phone camera well enough for us to catch a glimpse of the askaris yet not discovered. This one should get an award along with a spot on ‘Hero’s corner’ Mr President……anyone?

Mouth still agape, I wonder where we all went astray. When did we let a city that grew like wild fire at its inception, even necessitating it’s burning just to preserve it, go to the dogs?

We have been complacent! Recently more than before or was all this under wraps?

Were we too busy fighting dictatorship to notice this?

Or has it reared its head in this age of economic blossom?

Maybe the askaris want to make their millions or billions following the wealth accumulated by the police/politicians and other public workers in the recent past. All these can be catalysts to the growth of the monster within.

But before we go around pointing fingers or take to the streets up in arms against the institutions harming us, let’s switch our sight and focus. Isn’t anyone looking or rather overlooking?
Isn’t there an institution or even individual who should overlook and ensure the poor citizenry isn’t exploited or/and extorted? In the 21st century I would expect some kind of mechanism automated to destroy and slay any cartel that comes into existence. Days of the Sicilian mafia are long gone, kindly don’t take us back!

Maybe my imagination runs a little too wild but I would have sworn an existence of an intelligent, and now sophisticated, elite and extremely efficient team in charge of this. Democracy loses its meaning if someone can extort money, kill those who refuse and nothing is done. Action and attention is only afforded when the masses rise up, protest, hold battles with law enforcers in the city center and even threaten revenge?
This is not only sad but it proves a level of ignorance that is not only alarming but ashaming to our progress as a nation, our basic independence as a Kenyan people.

One would expect such a situation to be leveled and set straight in a prompt manner, but three years on here we are. Hawkers are organised, despite their higgledy piggledy exterior. They have their committees complete with a chair, board and officials. Our City Council has these offices set in stone, discussions between the two shouldn’t take this long, especially when lives are on the line.

If there’s any lack of individuals to do the work, kindly Mr. Governor, I offer my services, the whole contingent of them all, to you. I will run a recruitment too because I know the rich skill market we have and export on a daily.(no offence)

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How to save Kenya

The courage to do what is right and just is often the only distinction between good and bad. In a world fast changing and evolving, the perception of what is right and wrong is often marred with personal sentiments, opinions and personal interests. Sad but it’s true.
Often we think and go ahead, even place blame on the justice system, the police force and other legal institutions. But maybe our demon is too hidden for our eyes, lying in the castles we call home ,offices we call business; Smog is alive and well.

The problem boils down to an individual’s stand. And when the said individual is so bent on accumulating wealth for his/her own sake then it destroys the little work they accomplish. Think of a company whose CEO doesn’t care for his workers, the result is a disgruntled workforce, easy.

Now expand that to a national level where every Thomas, Daniel & Harriet is ready to pounce into the cookie jar and come out a mouthful. As time moves forward from since our independence this trend seems to be growing and increasing with no signs of ceasing; sad more so due to the hope and expectations the Kenyan people had before the hard earned independence. So here we are fifty something years past and we have all been shortchanged, all the four generations that have been there, yes all of them! From the empty promises, the embezzling of funds, theft of public land, theft of poor citizen’s land and the list goes on and on.

We have had commissions of inquiry, investigative bodies, police investigations even reports which are publicly handed over to the president, DPP and AG or even to the three at the same time. A few weeks later the report is not heard of and is piled somewhere in a cabinet to gather dust, for justice never to be seen.

So let’s put the past behind us, let’s let the ill gotten wealth go, just for a moment, if for nothing but to clear our minds to focus on the bigger picture. We have been robbed and outwitted for too long for it to be a coincidence, we should review our steps and strategies to find out what ails us. There must be a fault in our society, the reason behind the theft, lack of integrity, impunity and corruption. Watching an old Movie a white man stands from among hostages held at gunpoint and proclaims loud & proud,

“We are Americans, we don’t bow to anyone….”
For a moment, the captors(not american, of course) freeze and wonder for a moment as if biting, nimbling and tasting at their ferocious victims. Whether gunshots flew is of no consequence, let’s focus on the identity they (captors) have of themselves.

As I sat there I wondered how proud the said ‘Americans’ were of themselves, so much so that they have coined a character, so hard coded that it only needs one word to define it. As I was held in awe and admiration I wondered whether I can pull off a ‘I am Kenyan’ and let it speak for me? In a bus abducted by terrorists, or maybe in a closed room meeting deliberating on what wealth is to be grabbed and by who (not yet happened, if it does post me a video)

The thing is we, as a nation, have portrayed ourselves as thieves, unable to take care or behave in an upright way. So much that any European, Asian or American would claim that we are a country of corrupt morals and thieving leaders and none of our forty million Kenyans would dare throw a defamation suit against the foreigners, sad but true.

A mirror has to be held up to us and should be met with the willingness to change and strive to be better. We should all change our notoriously popular character to one with integrity if we wish to have Kenyans regarded with distinction and dignity at the world table.

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Dear President

I write with a heavy heart hoping for an ear for a moment, in plea to  action for just an instance because you are the only one who can and in a position to. My country is falling apart and I am not too certain of the future I have dreamt of, a future that led to my voting for you, and as I understand a national dream that was hatched decades before our independence.
Dear Mr President. I am an enterprising 24 year old citizen of this beautiful nation of Kenya. Apart from being born and raised here all my life I have participated in the processes that distinguishes a true Kenyan: having gone through the 844 Educational system, having lined up for hours to vote, having followed in detail corruption allegations and the ensuing commissions of inquiry, traveled and interacted widely sampling our cultures, engaging in heart felt discussions on governance and many more, in short I have been watching our nation patiently.
I am proud to be Kenyan and would without a doubt stand up to be counted as one, mine is an inborn loyalty to our state, kindered at birth and carefully maintained to date. Perhaps it was the war stories my grandfather kept telling us; the warfare he and his cronies engaged in pursuit of independence, the emergence of Mau Mau worriors dedicated to our national independence to death. He would go into a transe describing the jungle he grew up in, having been the last born of a traditional father he was at home as his siblings had gone away to work for the white man. He had to protect his fathers cattle and land that he did! He watched his family die off one by one and had to protect their property from loss from every corner of the nation. He was left to fight off the colonoalists and sooner, after independence, he had to fight off the Mau Mau worriors who would take their farm produce for sustenance as they went on living in the forest.
Pardon me for the reflection but I had to, in memory of the struggle our forefathers went through to ensure our freedom, fighting off threats both external and internal! There are so many out there who went through worse than my grandfather, and he admits it. Theirs was a patriotism forged by blood and sweat, one that liberated us for the freedom we enjoy now. Theirs was simple, to control our destiny, and as my grandfather looks on at our nation today he can’t help but chasten me against the injustice  he sees.
Mr President our fore fathers died brutally and painfully, buried in unmarked graves and tortured for years all so that their children enjoy freedom. Herein lies my pain and disgust that not only have we lost sight of what their died for but we have made a culture of trampling on it. I am disturbed beyond words by this fact in light of what has now become our national way of living.
Corruption! Mr President, corruption has to go away, I pride myself in making logical decisions and living with them, and for the life of me I can’t live with my conscience knowing that the regime I voted for, campaigned for and defended with such vigour would as much as turn a blind eye to corruption. The outright theft of our money. Not in thousands nor millions but billions! The all too common cry that there are ‘cartels’ that have monopolized corruption and would not burge even by the president’s order can’t be telorated.
The presidential seat is one to be looked up to, one to set an example on the kind of demeanor a nation takes up. It is the one seat that bears the responsibility of defining a people, defining what is business as usual and what is illegal. We picked out Kibaki to get rid of a dictatorship, and embrace development. He was still of the old guard, but Mr President You are my president! I picked you out to implement and fight in a way not seen before. We were smart, you are new and fresh hence with the energy to change and inspire, we support you and ferociously so against corruption.
Take courage sir we would match to parliament and even state house, if that’s where the corrupt cartels habour. We would never seat silent and watch our most powerful seat and office spat upon and rendered useless or worse, weak! On a personal level Sir we picked you out due to the simple fact that you are rich! We surmise you wouldn’t fall prey to bribes and petty money. You are the best equipped to make a mark in our nation history forever! If the cartels are smart, you can be smarter, what with the smart public in Kenya at your disposal, if they are resourceful and would hit without being seen, we the public, millions of people are behind you 24-7, say the word we will back you up, even the private sector supports that. If they are deeply embedded in government offices, say the word and the public uproar will push them out. If they have huge reserves of money, you come from one of the richest families ever seen in Africa!
I bare responsibility for this regime’s wrongs and mistakes because I consciously partook in its installation. I would never seat down and let my generation go down in history as one that perpetuated the destruction of our state.
You Instituted that 30% of all government tenders to go to the youth, but most of these have been channeled to the same old companies through youth Enterprises designed to exude the youthful image. I keep wondering why a directive from the all powerful office on the land has been disregarded by civil servants? Development projects have stalled and delayed due to issues brought to light, meanwhile as we look at them Counties and constituencies misuse public funds, leaving out the poor, hungry, homeless, unlearned children and the aged. Humiliating indeed but something we are to change, a thing we planned out to change.
Not that I don’t see any positive movements, I deeply appreciate the Chinese -Kenya trade alliance as I import and sell items from there. I commend the construction and expansion of the bypass, and the ongoing SGR is nothing but spectacular. The planned industrial hub in Naivasha is a future only dreamt of. Mr President the ship that is your government is dripping and I don’t want it to drown,too much is dependent on it, too many lives.
I dream of a great Kenya, where business flourishes, where corruption is scowned upon, where integrity is upheld above all other values. Where government offices are geared to work not to steal. I miss the hard stance that you had taken against corruption just before the terror attacks, and a continuation of that would really go a long way.