BY DR KEN OUKO
There is a fresh breeze blowing through our beloved country. And it is evidently defying the age-old English adage of ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’.
Only in Kenya do we have politicians using the same lines on us in five-year vicious cycles and we still harbour the pleasantry to applaud. It is only in Kenya where the rains fall in torrents and the captains of power still tell us there is no electricity because all over sudden, transformer vandalism has become a better excuse than the three year long drought.
Fellow citizens, isn’t ours the only country where the government raves and rants over spiraling fuel prices when we all know for a fact that it is the selfsame government that slices our pint-pockets with its storey level taxation?
Regardless, something new truly is happening to our country. Kenyans have become savvier; just watch the way Kenyans dress, the manner in which they swagger in the city and the swanky speech patterns. In Kenya today, citizens give no hoot for a political rally. Fewer and fewer Kenyans are moved by the antics of our leaders. Has anyone noticed that the quality of political satire has progressively improved with each passing day? Has anyone noticed that Kenyans today value political statements for their entertainment value than for their informational function?
That is the new Kenya I am talking about. The Kenya where University of Nairobi students have suddenly reinvented their ‘rioting capacity’ at the same time as Kenyan workers have suddenly gathered courage to heckle the previously ‘unheckleable’ Raila Amolo Odinga which brings home the point that perhaps the only unchanging fixture in Kenya today is the politician – he of the breed that displays undisguised ambivalence but elects to blame a fellow leader when Kenyans raucously express their distaste of such ambivalence.
One wonders why Raila never brick-batted a fellow leader over his ordeal on Labour Day when clearly most of the wage-level hecklers who attend May Day celebrations are usually of dichotomised ethno-regional orientation.
The new Kenya is awash with adoration. She is adoring of her homegrown heroes and mindful of the breed otherwise known as the disadvantaged.
TV and Radio stations in Kenya seem to have suddenly re-invented their approach to corporate social participation and are almost in competition as to who will bring us the goriest of tales of sufferance. Has somebody noticed how able Kenyans mechanically creep out of the woodwork to extend a helping hand to the needy? That is the new Kenya I am talking about.
The new Kenya is that where robbery with violence has evolved into big time bloodless heists whose perpetrators however are only to be found in the cadre of drivers and guards, not bankers and capital marketers. We are today witnessing a new Kenya where the previously almost moribund Judiciary has found fangs and is sinking them fast and furiously into politicians’ necks.
On our behalf may I add? Since we have been unable to invoke the recall clause on these clueless and marauding politicians, the judiciary seems to have found a way out for us. Mmmm…
In my Sociologist’s mind, the question that bothers me now on the constant is where was this Kenya before? What is causing this transformation in the behavioural matrix and the psyche of the new Kenyan?
(Dr Ouko is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and regular commentator)