Time to hop onto the ban wagon

Tuesday November 27 2012

PHOTO | FILE BANNED: Importation of genetically modified foods, but what about home-grown varieties?

PHOTO | FILE BANNED: Importation of genetically modified foods, but what about home-grown varieties? NATION MEDIA GROUP


Yes! We did it. Or, to give credit where it is due, our democratically-elected government which has no Opposition in a country with multi-party democracy did it for us and we should forever be grateful.

Our benevolent government has banned all those annoying imported foreign things that are not healthy for us and our economy, which is now set for astronomical growth.

But first, this is how we ended up where we are: Many, many years ago, when we were fed up with only one political party, we took to the streets.

Actually, they — the current crop of political leaders — took to the streets and protested so much so that political parties rained down on our beloved nation, more like manna from heaven.

Then some years later, they ascended to power — in other places people govern — and remembered some of the things they fought for, but forgot to have an Opposition (party) which is the main thing they were wailing over because they wanted cheques and balances.

Because of their poor memory, they ended by up by creating a new form of multi-party democracy which puts all of them on one side. You can even say on all sides, so they can fight like Kilkenny cats one minute and kiss and make up the next minute while their supporters are still at war.

That, fellow readers and dear Kenyans — we are confused like that — is the epitome of freedom, of democracy, of liberalism, of being united in ripping off the little poor sods who work their body parts off and still cannot afford to put food on their floors, considering that they cannot even afford tables.

This is the government that cares so much for our collective well-being that it has gone ahead and banned all those imports that might endanger our lives.

Top on the agenda last week was genetically-modified foodstuffs which, after extensive research within the Cabinet, were discovered to carry organisms which might spell doom for a working nation.

But was the ban imposed on GM foods or just their importation — and does that mean if an indigenous ingenious local scientist modifies some organism then it is good to go?

It seems the ban is just on importation only and other ministries and departments have followed suit and decided to ban other imports which will cause Kenyans untold suffering.

These foreign products were not made with our bodies in mind and they contain substances that can be detrimental to our health.

Take the Health ministry, for example. No more drugs and even equipment from outside the country since it is cheaper to get treatment out of the country, not to mention that the doctors might be on strike and it will make no difference bringing drugs and equipment here.

“We want to create jobs for our youth,” a ministry official explained the reasoning behind the ban. “Some of them have built equipment and there are enough herbalists around also, thus we are cutting costs by using our own safe products and creating employment in the process.”

The “ban wagon” is being felt across all ministries, and is meant to improve the lives of all Kenyans, regardless of race, gender or creed because we are a one united nation which only gets divided along foreign ideologies that should also be banned, but there are more immediate needs.

The cost of living has been rising and this is due to the cost of imported fuel, thus the government is coming in to arrest the situation and has banned the importation of oil.

“We are working around the clock to ensure that our own oil starts flowing around the country,” a Ministry of Energy official explained. “The imported reserves can still be used because we have to mop them up, but our prices will be lower and this will drastically reduce the cost of living.”

For some time now, the beauty industry has been the worst hit because the imported products are laced with dangerous chemicals that erode our beauty, thus the concerned ministry has been forced to join the ban wagon.

What is already in the market can be used for a short duration, but the government will mop them up and introduce only-locally manufactured products.

“We will soon have only locally-manufactured and safer braids, wigs and weaves made of sisal,” the spokeswoman of the Beauty ministry said, with a straight face full of botox, whose importation, she said, has also been banned.

With her weave blowing in the wind, she was quick to point out that the consumers, or rather users, of wigs and weaves might be tempted to take to the streets, but they should rest assured that there will be enough supplies to cater for their needs.

“Even though our needs are high, the quantities are not unmanageable considering that the weaves stay on our heads for ages, or until the horses come home,” she quipped, much to the chagrin of men who are of the opinion that weaves, whether local or imported, should just be banned.

With the promise of only beautiful and safe things around, Kenya will definitely meet all its goals, and that is why the spokesperson from the ministry in charge of fashion also added her voice to the raucous and said that even imported textiles were not spared.

“There are just too many markets selling imported second-hand clothes and these have to regulated,” she said.

“Thus even the importation of second-hand clothes has been banned and this will help in the development of the local fashion industry, which has been shrinking.”

Even though no official word had come from the ministry in charge of breweries and distilleries, word in the drinking dens where illicit brews are sold was that imported liquors will be banned. This got the industry players worried, though for different reasons altogether.

They are already well taken care of, they contend, since they have the biggest share of the market and they are just wondering whether the government will give them bigger premises.

They are also wondering whether the amount of bribes that they have to pay will be reduced even though they are sure that their profits will be, well, staggeringly high.

With all this banning of imported stuff, there are Kenyans who are of the opinion that the government should as well go ahead and ban itself.

They argue that it is government officials and Cabinet ministers who rely on things foreign and even go abroad to seek treatment; and the reason is not just that the latter are the only ones with the money, but mainly because they have run down local institutions and have lost faith in them.


Flats, bungalows and slums

Funny that there are more houses in Nairobi than people can buy or rent, and the reason is that they — the houses, not the people — are way too expensive, or are simply over-priced, for the middling class.

As reported in the Sunday Nation this week, Kenya, and specifically Nairobi, is facing a housing glut because houses are “sprouting left right and centre” and have outstripped the demand because speculators envisioned a high demand (for luxurious homes.)

‘Sprouting’, for sure, is the word that best describes the housing crisis in the city since slums are also coming up just as fast as, or even faster than, the high-end housing units which have left many developers with “dead stock.”

The only difference is that the slums are not dead stock, which begs the question, is the sprouting of the high-end houses causing the increase of slums, or vice versa?

Whatever the answer, we sure do have problems of plenty brought about by plenty of problems in numerous sectors of the sectors of the economy.


‘Fishy stuff’

Since shelter is more than a basic human right and is a need, let’s have another go at the housing sector, albeit with a different twist.

According to reports, the CBK Governor thinks there is something fishy as far as the real estate boom — or glut, depending on where you reside — is concerned.

Professor Njuguna Ndung’u is a worried man “because the high level of activities in the property sector is at variance with the low level of borrowing to finance home-buying”.

That is an easy-to-understand statement the good young professor used there, and he feels that “there is something wrong somewhere that needs to be investigated”.

He is confounded and is asking where the money (for building these houses) is coming from. Well, given his position, if he does not have an answer, then, who can — or rather, who should?