BY DANNISH ODONGO
When I started writing a few years ago, my articles revolved mostly around faith and personal experiences. But early this year, I decided to start writing about politics, social justice and leadership.
Some people find the choice of words in my articles to be a bit blunt and sometimes even severe but there is just cause for the occasional bluntness and severity in my articles. As far as leadership and social justice are concerned, I find myself being unable to take up a casual approach. I believe that any such attitude would be inconsistent with a full and proper utilization of the platform that God has given me to articulate the issues that affect society. Therefore, I will not equivocate, I will not relent and I will not write softly. On Monday, one particular incident caught my attention. Let me explain.
I have noticed that Mombasa Road and Uhuru Highway are currently undergoing an elaborate process of beautification presumably because of Barak Obama’s looming visit to Kenya. Taifa road has been given a major face lift in record time and I hear that there is an elaborate plan to rid the city of street families before president Obama arrives.
I actually have no issue with the beautification process itself or any plans to make the city better, however I am convinced that the timing and reason for the works are clear indicators of how colonized our leaders’ minds are. The hurried beautification works represent an act of bending over backwards to make frantic cosmetic changes in a desperate bid to impress a foreign leader and perhaps hide the shame of what the city ordinarily looks like when no high ranking foreign dignitaries come our way.
It seems that despite paying exorbitant taxes, Kenyans only get to see the power of their taxes when “big brother” is coming to town. Nothing could be a clearer testament of the inferiority mindset that has crippled our leaders’ minds. Incessant complaints by Nairobi residents about poor roads and blocked drainage systems have traditionally fell on deaf ears. The powers that be seem happy to avail funds for Governors’ Balls and other high end parties but not for the rehabilitation of the city. No sir. A high ranking western official would first have to confirm his two day visit before the city can receive a facelift. The colonized minds of our leaders would rather disappoint millions of tax paying Nairobians with lackluster service delivery for 365 days a year than fail to impress a foreigner during their two day stopover in Nairobi.
Surely, is the county government suggesting that tax paying citizens are undeserving of good roads and maintained sidewalks and that they should only expect to experience such phenomena when worthy and high ranking foreigners dare to look our way?
The heart of the colonial agenda was to convince the inhabitants of colonial territories that they were inferior to the Crown, incapable of self-governance and therefore in need of the colonial government.
Our colonizers changed our names and imposed their culture on us because to them, we were savages who needed to be rescued from ourselves. Sadly enough, we still dance to the colonial tune today, a sad 50 – plus years after independence. We are anxiously putting together superficial last minute improvements in a bid to impress a foreigner who will only be here for a day or two and who probably won’t even notice the desperate lengths to which we went to please him. The funds for service delivery are there, as the hurried beautification process clearly demonstrates but it seems that the residents of Nairobi are considered to be simpletons who do not deserve excellent roads and well maintained pavements because clearly such are lofty aspirations ought not to be wasted on slaves.
Fellow Kenyans, the ‘vultures’ that lead us scavenge on our desperation and disorder. They ensure that our streets smell of rot and neglect and that the air around our estates is saturated by the odour of the ubiquitous mountains of sun warmed garbage. These vultures are content to allow the pungent smell of urine to continue to hang in the air in the corridors of our CBD. After all, it’s only ordinary tax payers who walk there. The glorified likes of the POTUS will certainly not be visiting such undignified areas so why clean them up?
In the grand scheme of things, these ‘vultures’ cannot make any meaningful contribution to our lives. If we as Kenyans accept to be governed by them, then the baton of poverty and a colonized mentality will invariably be passed to our children who, like us, will also act as raw materials for processing the ambitions of the ruling class during every election.
Although we have come a long way from the days of slavery, it is clear to me that this form of evil still exists with the only difference being that the slave masters have changed and the enslaved are unaware of this fact. Discrimination and inequality still saturate this city in overwhelming ways. Classicism is alive and well and is coated with lies and sustained by negative ethnicity.
We the patriots of this land however must fight such neo-colonialism. If we will not do it for ourselves then let us do it for our children. It would be a shame if we left a legacy of oppression and selective development for our children to inherit.
We who love this country must speak up and demand service delivery from our government. We pay taxes and deserve to see them at work at all times not just when Obama comes calling. If this government will not heed our voices, we must look for one that will.
Follow the writer @DannishOdongo