Reflections

Someone lied to you mwananchi! (Part 2)

By Njoki Ngumi:

So everyone's going on and on about twenty-twelve now, and how it'll be THE year, and politicians are laying ground for campaigns…for those that haven't actively started already. That's great, for them. They want to leave behind the development agenda for now and the hunger and massive increases in cost of living (with concomitant decrease in quality of living) caused by artificially created shortages and focus on the pipe-dreams of the future – that's on them. What's on us? What's on the people, who are also going into the same year and who will have to listen to more sweet words that may more than likely turn out to be empty?

Be wooed. Be reasoned with, Wanjiku. Tell him love is a verb, not emotional exchanges and moving words. Demand a leader that is willing to hear what you think, not just claim to know how to solve your problems – or imagine that throwing a few notes at it as a one-off will. Demand a leader that will walk around the constituency not surrounded by hordes of bodyguards and lines of cars (and your tax money is fueling those cars, be sure) and listen to women's groups and teachers and policemen and healthcare workers and NGO caucuses and orphanage owners and matatu touts and construction workers and prisoners and that guy that packages things in the supermarket and primary school children, and old people that have been abandoned by their families. Demand the guy that has a plan for every year and has an idea how it's going to work, and sets in place a forum where he can be confronted and kept accountable by the area leaders and the people themselves. Where they can say, “on this day, you said you would do this and that by such and such a time. Currently, we are 8 steps behind. What do you have to say for yourself?” And watch him answer and toss him out if his answer is unsatisfactory. You are his employer, not the other way round. Demand a guy who rents space or sets aside room for an office on the ground where he has time to see constituents for a significant amount of time each week, without fail. Demand a guy who is heard in parliament, and not just hell-raising, but participating and making laws and inspiring generations of future leaders. Demand the guy that wants to talk to students and tell them to do their best in school to come home and make things they learn abroad work for the rural area…the guy that wants people to stay and farm, and says he will see that your produce is bought from you fairly and that he will make every effort to bring to you the things you are all crowding to Nairobi to look for and have been disappointed in not finding. Demand the guy that protects his family from the public eye, because he will also be respectful in dealing with you. The guy that knows that business is business, and pleasure is pleasure, and would never dream of turning your cousin’s wedding into a campaign platform. Demand the guy who would NEVER give you a handout to get you from one day to the next, but will ask why it is that you need the handout, and work day and night to solve that problem. Demand the guy who will be committed to you, not just hang around until he gets what he wants, and then never call you again.

And spit on the guy that dares offer you cash for your dreams of a better day for you and the other 40 million of us. Tell him your dreams are worth millions, and they span past your lifetime to when your children and grandchildren and maybe even you yourself will be living in a Kenya that South Africa and Egypt and Nigeria look at and want to be, and that Kenyans in the Diaspora will be fighting to get back into. And tell him his cheap-ass attempt to buy that from you is despicable. And spit on him again.

Spit twice. Thrice, even. Call it up from the depths of your lungs and hurl it in his face.

Never again!

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