Friday, January 16, 2009

Is Yagnesh Devani a villain or a hero

By NJUGUNA MUTONYA
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Reading through Kenyans’ reaction to the Triton/Devani saga in the online edition of the Daily Nation, one identifies two prominent streaks of reasoning.

The first is grave indignation at feeling duped again by our politicians who are at the beck and call of a class of businessmen who thrive on the poverty psychosis of our leadership.

The anger seems derived from the bitter feeling of being had again, as if we never seem to learn from our past mistakes. It is a futile cry that could easily lead to cynicism and indifference.

The second seems to be gleeful, the “I told you” kind of attitude in which there is a certain amount of reverence to the purveyors of the sticky deal which has left a Sh7.6 billion hole in a local bank.

Kenyans are becoming numb with the glaring exposures of mega-scandals year in year out, and it is slowly emerging that the level of “eating” in almost all public institutions is out of control.

The grand coalition, which is quickly becoming an epic collision vehicle for the noisy politicians, is being exposed for what it is — a time-out in the ethnic rivalries of Kenyans to enable the politicians to refill their bank accounts before going back to their cohorts to unleash more mischief.

With these billions flying all over the place, coupled with the recession which only adds  to the prevailing desperate situation, what can’t the desperate, unemployed and unemployable youths do for a price?

Is it a wonder that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission seems to have also gone underground, content with catching small cops and local council employees with 20,000 bribes, while the country is ripped to shreds by international contractors?

Impunity, it seems, pays in Kenya and this is why whatever gains are made are so easily erased. From the matatu sector to the food security networks, cartels have imprinted their authority and government agents are spectators at best or accomplices at worst.

Stories of lavish parties on board designer jets or sporty yachts anchored in all our harbours at a time when 10 million Kenyans are faced with famine are not only numbing, but also ecstatically dazzling for our youths.

The stories of heroes in far-flung mud walled villages who are saving damsels in distress, are relegated to a filler status in our newspapers, while “celebs and wannabes” fill our pages.

If you do not have the taste for Dom Perignon or Chivas Regal, you are a loser because that is what our young people are craving.

Our political leaders who now earn as respectably as the private sector nabobs know the risks and costs of electioneering in Kenya, and so they must reap as fast as possible to ensure they vanquish the runner-ups who are busy with development projects in the villages.

You must be in the right place with the right amount of money to buy the nomination certificate of whichever party you want to be in and then lots more to buy votes plus the occasional chopper to awe your constituents.

When Mzee Jomo Kenyatta chided his compatriot Bildad Kaggia on why he could not partake of the “eating” like his other friends, he unleashed an insatiable genie which continues to determine our economic character, which is basically speculative.

If only the mega-class could plough some of it back into public enterprise where it could earn them profits and solve some social problems, we would be years ahead.

The royals of Saudi Arabia, the Maktoums of Dubai and the Al Thani’s of Qatar might be obscenely rich, but they are at the forefront of transforming their former fiefdoms into world quality business centres with amazing success.

Our leaders should understand that all that wealth in the midst of such glaring poverty just increases the social differentiation and could end up in smoke.

That is the difference.

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