, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – Do we work just to make money? Is putting in an honest day\’s work what some people describe as working hard as opposed to working smart? And is the growing so called \’hustler mentality\’ the way to go?
Kenyans today are living by the creed of greed, says Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Director Patrick Lumumba. While giving a work ethics talk to university students, the anti corruption czar attributed that to the reason every new born Kenyan immediately inherits a debt of no less than Sh30,000.
"It is a debt that was incurred by others on your behalf," explained Prof Lumumba; adding, "For those who are Christians, they read the Ten Commandments but they thought that they were 10 suggestions from heaven and they took the view that these suggestions can be forgotten and manipulated at their convenience."
"And that is why while we claim to be 80 percent Christian every Sunday the priest has to warn the women as they walk to the alter to take the Holy Communion, beware because your bag will be stolen; even in church… we steal!" he pointed out.
Going back into Kenya\’s history, Prof Lumumba reflected on what the country\’s colonisers bequeathed to the first indigenous government.
"On the eve of independence we inherited the railway, we inherited many farms and many institutions but 48 years down the line we can no longer run a railway system; forests that were left have converted into plots! I look at a country where many a politician, many a respected individual now stand on rooftops and pontificate about what Kenyans should do," the anti-corruption boss sounded off.
Speaking seperately, Pastor Muriithi Wanjau of Mavuno Church drew from the \’good book\’ saying that the first act of work we read about is that of God making something out of nothing. He says Kenyans have lost sight of the intrinsic value of work.
Pastor Muriithi said Kenya\’s colonial legacy had both positive and negative aspects and we could have built on the positives and discarded what was not good for us. Asked where the rain started beating us, the pastor said one of our follies is what he calls our \’national mis-education policy.
"They came up with an education system that was supposed to create people to work in their company, a system to create serfs. And that\’s why you find a guy coming from a village where there may be several nuclear physicists PhDs and there\’s no running water, there\’s no electricity and people are dying of hunger every year … yet we have Kenyans working for NASA," held Muriithi.
Apart the education system, Kenya\’s working populace is a product of societal norm and values which have been inculcated at the most basic unit of the society; the family.
"If you look at other societies, you\’ll find that people come up with inventions and ways to make life easier for themselves, but this doesn\’t seem to be the way we as Kenyans have been cultured to think," explained the Pastor.
Muriithi said: "Our parents were the first ones to encounter this colonial education system and they bought it hook line and sinker and they passed it to us unquestioningly. This has created a whole generation of people who has no interest in solutions, they primary motive for work is to just get rich."
The tragedy then, says the Man of God – is the middle class, that slice of the population that should be creating solutions for Africa, he say they\’re caught up in making wealth for themselves to insulate themselves from the poor.
The third factor according to Pastor Muriithi is our scarcity mentality. "We have this myth that somewhere there\’s this national cake and I have to get into position so that I can get some for myself and for my relative. It\’s a very insidious thinking that has gotten into us," said Muriithi.
"So what have we done to our forest cover?" asked the Pastor. "From 30 percent to 1.7 percent; because we are all eating it. Nobody is asking who\’s going to plant trees for the next generation.
Like the proverbial Phoenix, Dr Lumumba feels that Kenya can rise from the ashes on the wings of the youth whom he tells that in the absence of role models they have to chart their own course guided by their conscience.
The KACC director says he looks forward to the day that the job he hold at the anti-corruption commission will no longer be necessary because Kenya will have purged itself of the vice.