Greece is a lovely country with sobering lessons for Kenya

Thursday August 17 2017

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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A visit to the Hellenic nation reveals a hospitable, accommodating nation.

After jumping through quite a few hoops, I’ve finally gotten to Greece. Because I’ve left Kenya at such a volatile time, I can’t help but compare and contrast the things that I see here, and the things I see back home.

It’s amazing what a better transport system can do to the ease of travel in a country. I’ve only used taxis and the metro so far - and more recently, the ferry – and let me tell you, the knowledge that you can get to anywhere you need to be in under a half hour is revolutionary to me.

This is the vision Miguna had for our swamp, remember? Feasible and cheaper transport. I am both surprised and not surprised that Miguna didn’t get more votes. It was pretty hard to go up against an incumbent Evans Kidero and an overwhelmingly popular Mike Sonko.

HOPE

Sonko now has a lot to cover in the first 100 days of his term, and we are waiting to see if he actually does it. It's our responsibility to hold him to it. One can hope, right?

Greek people are so friendly. One always comes into a country of predominantly Caucasian people a bit afraid as a black person – or at least, I do, simply because the bad news from these parts is always much louder than the good.

But in a majority of our experiences, the commonality is that Greek people are always willing to help you, to direct you to where to go because you look hopelessly lost and show you a good time in their country.

Even at the consulate, when they said they were going to give us the visas, the first thing the consular officer said was ‘Cancel your booking at that hotel, that’s a terrible part of Athens to stay in!’.

This is something I think we have in common back home, as well – most Kenyans, even in the middle of a very difficult Nairobi, are willing to help strangers out. We’re known as a hospitable, accommodating nation – that’s what I think Greece is as well.

A LUDICROUS IDEA
Another thing we have in common, though a little dire here, is the failings of our governments. If this last week has shown me anything, it is that it doesn’t matter who wins an election – people are going to die either way.

You see, our country is run by a few families. Young men die for old men living in an era that is passing them by, ironically.

These young men, even though they have been failed by a government ruling a country made up of 70 per cent of their own, still go to these battles – because they have nothing to lose, because they have been disenfranchised, because they have been sold a ludicrous idea that ‘those people’ have ‘taken’ from them, and cannot be allowed to survive, or rule.

These are all lies. Because no one on that golf course cares about the people in Kibera, which is why leaders went to visit it after the gunshots and violence, not during.

SAME OLD STORY

Which is why in Kisumu people are being shot and killed in their houses and elected leaders there hardly raise their voices – they’re probably in Nairobi, and on a golf course too.

Because we all know that our elected officials prefer to stay where they haven’t been elected, right?

Greece, according to reports on the ground (“on the ground” being a lovely, knowledgeable couple we had dinner with yesterday) has the same old story going as well.

As we sat on the 10th floor of the lovely Astor Hotel, which, by the way, has the best view in Athens, they told us that unemployment is so high that there really is no respite or recourse for young Greeks.

There are no jobs, at all, and those who have jobs are being paid so little, it is easier to just leave.

They said their president was a puppet, being told what to say and where to go and what to do, all the while ignoring the needs of the people.

Sounds familiar to me.

‘ONLY OF TODAY’

They told us about a conversation they had with our supremely conscientious waiter. They asked him what his future was. He said, ‘Future? What future?’

He is unmarried and can barely support himself, so being unmarried is something he is actually grateful for. ‘I can’t think of a future. I can only think of today.’
What future does Kenya have?

To be honest, I don’t care who Kenya’s President is. I just wish something could be done for Kenyans – someone brought to justice, someone fired, someone exiled – something! for all the people who have had to die because of the childish power plays at the top.

May they rest in peace.

Twitter: @AbigailArunga