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SAD REALITY: Why Thika is decades away from liberating self from mental slavery

By Jaymo Wa Thika

There is a Kikuyu saying that goes, “Mundu akagirwo na iria atwite” which simply translates that you deserve what you invest in. We deserve the kind of leadership that we make.

When Kenya attained independence, citizens won the rights to choose the kind of leadership they wanted and determine how they wanted to be governed.

The big question we need to ask ourselves is:- 58 years down the line, can we pride in the kind of leaders that we keep mandating to take control of our lives and that of our future generation? The answer to that question is a RESOUNDING NO!!

We are guilty of always recycling pumpkin-heads in leadership and expecting miracles in terms of service delivery and ease of doing business.

If we can narrow down our argument to Thika Town Constituency in particular, those who have been residing here, especially before the devolved system of government came into force, can attest to the fact that the town has lost its glory. Things that we previously assumed as obvious have now become a luxury and are no longer guaranteed.

The Central Business District (CBD) has been turned into a concrete slum and a den of corruption where those in office usually sell reserved public spaces, car parks and amenities to the highest bidders. Every day, money changes hands as bribes or protection fee for a few who-is-whos to continue taking advantage of public facilities at the expense of the majority silent.

The concerned work so hard to ensure that the town is disorderly to take advantage of the confusion therein to earn illegal money in terms of bribes. This explains why most legal businesses are closing down every day or relocating to other towns and counties.

The leaders we vote into office make matters worse by encouraging the status quo. They view every situation politically and never see people but votes.

Our people are not better either. They are always quick to defend an illegality in the name of “earning a living and creating jobs”. But where is the logic of creating 5 jobs and killing 10?

We need to ask ourselves where the rains started beating us. That very moment we allowed mediocrity to rule over us is when we invited the mess that we are experiencing today.

We sold our birthright the moment we allowed euphoria and political shenanigans to be part of our menu. We killed our bright future when we assumed that being wealthy and vulgar was the litmus test for a good leader. We lost it the moment we assumed that if one came from a humble background, they deserved to be rewarded with leadership so as to be elevated just like the moneyed. We lost it when party euphoria and political rhetoric became our guide to leadership. We lost it when we went to the ballot “to vote out” (as in to punish someone) and not to vote for people who deserved leadership.

When other regions of this country vote for brains, we vote euphoria and handouts. For us, being moneyed means being brainy. No wonder we vote leaders who finish their terms without uttering any word in Parliament/County Assembly other than "AYE" and "NAY" while other regions are passing bills that benefit their people.

If you vote in a chokora governor, how would you expect them to bring order and improve business environment for a bigger cake? What excites us are news of who called who what and the rhetoric by dunderhead politicians.

How I wish our mainstream media imitated the developed countries and give complete blackout to these "igeges". That would be the greatest gift the media would ever give this country. I will not talk about social media because here everything goes and every Dick & Harry is a media house.

We are simply our worst enemies. Almost 6 decades into independence, we have never learnt our lessons despite being more educated and exposed than our parents and grandparents. 

Our youth, whom we expect to be enlightened, are even worse than our ancestors who were never exposed to technology as we are today. The internet has now been turned into arenas to spew hatred, mediocrity and ignorance as opposed to being an avenue for positive change. We will live to die with all our problems until the day we will stop using our heads like pumpkins.

Until this generation organises themselves into caucuses and organisations such as residents associations that set agenda on how they want to be governed, we will always live to complain and wait for leaders to set the agenda for us. 

Until the elite and the business community wake up from their slumber and organise forums to chart “The Thika We Want” Agenda, things will get worse and political opportunists will always find their way into leadership positions.

In developed societies, residents chart their own agenda and demand all those vying for various seats to subscribe to this agenda and sign their commitment to following it to the letter once elected. However, we are a community that waits for leaders to tell us what they will give us even if it doesn't add value to our lives.

We have been made to view ourselves as so powerless to a point of believing that we only need a “saviour” to sort out our problems….. That saviour is a certain person and when they fail, we focus on another saviour. We suffer from acute saviour mentality syndrome .... "ooh huyu ndiye anajua shida zetu". We have got to save ourselves from this vicious cycle.  

We are a society that is divided into “mirengos” and tribalism and very good at shouting or posting "FULANI TOSHA" without anything to show for the tosha thing.

20 years, 40 years down the line….. how will the future generation view your actions? Will you be proud to tell your grandchildren how your stupid actions will have messed their lives then?

We can only rectify this mess if we put community good above self and when we divorce personality politics from issues affecting us. We need to sit down as a people and workout collective solutions to our own problems and when we do so, we do it without selfish and "below the table" dirty cards that are meant for short-term gains.

Unfortunately, most people will come on the table tagged to particular politicians and will argue their agenda with intent to drive the agenda of such politicians. That is why we never make any progress towards liberating ourselves from this mental slavery.

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