Before I get to the subject of today, I have written in a past blog that we are our own worst enemies. We seem to have unfounded faith in the developed world, almost to the extent of believing that without it, we cannot develop and become a First World country.
My view is that most of the fastest industrialising countries are those that follow their own path… read India, China, Malaysia etc. It’s true that they suffer and sacrifice for a while but in the end, they not only grow and develop, but they also win the respect of the West who then come to do business with them.
I gave the example of this God’s gift that we have in Coast Province. When it was discovered, we invited a company called Tiomin Inc to come and mine it for us. I was living out of the country then but the only thing I would read then about this “investment” was Tiomin’s demand that we move the locals away so that they could start mining.
I never, for instance, read any attempt to convert the locals into a cooperative that would then own some shares in the mining company, although cooperatives do quite well in the agricultural sector. The most outrageous thing that I read then was that the company then wanted to float a bond in Canada to raise money for mining. Again, that was at a time when we were having the KenGen IPO oversubscribed six times. No one asked Tiomin to raise capital locally.
The saga went on and they, for some reason, did not raise enough money. At this juncture, they decided to sell some shares to the Chinese! The long and short of it is that the company has now decided they are not able to go on and they have folded the operations. Kenya or Kenyans were never a subject in all this. A few questions still beg answers.
- Who created this deal with Tiomin?
- Why did they get a blank card to come and mine without any thought given to local shareholding… even by Government?
- We have lost quite a few years and gone back to the drawing board….. was there an exit clause that can compensate us for this or do they just walk out?
The subject of today, however, is two current issues. The first is the McDonald Mariga case. I know our football is bad and we are even rated behind Haiti in the world. However, through this mess and hardships for the players, we have produced a world beater in the name of Mr Mariga. How can Britain then deny him a work permit and the opportunity of good earnings because Kenya is poorly rated in football?
Britain gives this country aid and in his own small way, Mr Mariga was going to earn good money. If he did what he already does (as his own mother put it), he would be sending money home. This way, he would be helping reduce dependence on aid. What an opportunity for Britain to show real friendship to Kenya by getting an innocent fellow who was going to add a lot of value to the British economy a work permit! What an opportunity to show the world that it is trade, not aid, which will deliver the Kenya. How many times has Kenya given work permits even to third rate expatriates from those countries to work here, at the expense of locals, to keep our relationships going?
The second issue concerns the deportation of the controversial Muslim cleric, Abdullah al Faisal. Here, I am not dwelling on whether it was right or wrong to deport him. But the fact that the decision was made because of terrorism concerns made me again wonder why the two most vocal countries in the world on terrorism would not allow the preacher passage.
I was amazed to see that he could not go via London or Miami! Here we are talking about passage for someone who the West has itself called a terrorist sympathiser and they could not come through for Kenya at its hour of need. We are scolded a great deal because we are not “doing enough” about terrorism so much so that the USA is not even comfortable having their commercial planes land in Kenya. Yet when we wanted to do something fast on a terrorism issue, embassies that have been known to comment on nearly every issue go conspicuously quiet.
Taken for a Ride
This is not necessarily an accusation against those countries. It’s more a call to ourselves to be less rejecting and take more pride in ourselves, take charge of our destiny more and support Kenyan, East African and African more… Otherwise we shall continue to easily be taken for a ride like Dick Berg (Remember all Africa Games?),or Roy Puffet (Remember Rift Valley Railways?) etc.
No country has ever developed by turning the other cheek. We need to boldly support our initiatives and our businesses simply because they are ours. They may not be the most efficient in some cases but they are ours and if we do not support them, no one else will. I know a Kenyan brewery that tried to sell a local beer brand in South Africa and to this day, they have not been able to register the trade mark.
I love this country and its one of the best places one can ever live. It’s our attitude and approach to issues that concern us that I detest!