There is drought among Kenya’s ‘educated’ class

Friday February 24 2017

A woman fetches water from a hole she had dug on the dry riverbed of River Nyaidho in Awasi, Kisumu on January 17, 2017. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A woman fetches water from a hole she had dug on the dry riverbed of River Nyaidho in Awasi, Kisumu on January 17, 2017. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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From page 27 of the February 21 number of the Star daily, I plucked the following gemstone: “23 boreholes dry up in 2 months due to drought…”. Of course. Everybody could discern a definite causal relationship between the atmospheric drought and the drying up of things down below.

For the one refers to a general climatic condition, whereas, here, the other refers only to its effects on a particular man-made “facility” – to use a word disgustingly overworked by Kenya’s English-language print media. Yet the headline might have puzzled many of our language-conscious readers.

Surely, the drying up of environmental things is here a consequence of the general atmospheric drought now reportedly besetting the whole East African region. Nevertheless, to blame the drying up on drought is just as silly as to blame on “hunger” all the starvation which perpetually besets Kenya’s north-eastern region.

KENYA'S PARLIAMENTARIANS

Leave that kind of slaughter of somebody else’s mother-tongue to Kenya’s parliamentarians. But I warn that some Englishman or woman may one day find a locus standi for taking you – the whole of Kenya – to the international court of language not only for having stolen his or her mother tongue but also for systematically and ruthlessly mutilating it.

Leave it, to the Members of Parliament, those whom you yourselves have elected and are paying through the nose for just that purpose, namely, in order to mislead you on all social questions, including the language of England which they themselves latched onto at independence as our language of law-making and governance in general.

For, indeed, had you considered it properly at independence, you would have seen that – if English was necessary – complete mastery of it would have been the most effective way of defeating all the negative influences that the upper classes of England had planted in this country beginning from the classroom.

EFFECTIVE WEAPON

But, if you ask me, I think that the language of an objective foe is among the most effective weapons by which to infiltrate the enemy’s camp and to tackle him successfully. I say “objective” because, subjectively, England is not an enemy of Kenya. But, because the language is England’s own, an English stratum knows just how to deploy it to exploit to the maximum the relations between England and other exploitable countries.

What our nationalists called “neo-colonialism” is essentially the effective use of the language common to both sides to the complete advantage only of the side which introduced that language, the side whose mother tongue the language has been for many centuries.

During our last polls, the candidates deliberately misled you into thinking that, by freely casting of your votes, you were latching onto an effective representative at the national power centre. But the blame remains entirely your own that, even now, few of you ever think of taking the parliamentary candidates’ words with at least a pinch of salt.

That kind of situation is what may be called a drought – a desert, a condition of total ethico-intellectual waterlessness among your country’s so-called “educated” class.

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