Short memory is the cause of our misery

Wednesday March 18 2020

Voters queue to cast their votes at Ayany Primary School in the Kibra by-election on November 7, 2019. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP


About two months ago, one of my neighbours was robbed as he returned home in the evening. It was around 12pm and he had just opened his gate and was in the process of getting into his car to drive in.

Suddenly, three men sprang on him and tried to subdue him, but he managed to get away, running into his compound where he hid from them.

His wife, who had witnessed the scuffle, started screaming, scaring the robbers away and alerting us. It was a scary incident, one that had not occurred before in our neighbourhood.

Like is wont to happen when a terrifying incident is still fresh in the mind, in the days and weeks that followed, everyone in the neighbourhood made a point of arriving home early, fearful of being waylaid by robbers.


After about a month however, the fear having receded, people began to take more liberty and gradually went back to their laid-back Friday and Saturday times, the ungodly hours of between 1pm and 3pm when criminals are most productive, the time when they report to the office well-rested, determined to meet and exceed expectations.

Obviously, we human beings have very short memories. I have a relative who is fond of his beer. Every time he overdoes it, which is every Friday, he vows to himself and anyone who cares to listen that he will never touch a drop of alcohol again as long as he lives.

As you can imagine, he is normally nursing a headache from hell at that point, sick as a dog and dead serious about abandoning alcohol for good.

By Wednesday the following week, however, the aches and pains will have long gone, and come Friday, he will be happily at it.

I equate this relative’s memory to that of the Kenyan voter. The Kenyan voter has such a short memory, which perhaps explains why we keep voting for the very same politicians who fail us time after time, yet have the audacity to wonder why the country is in the sorry state it is in.


Another incident comes to mind is that of Peninah Wangechi, who stunned the nation when she withdrew assault charges against her husband, who had stabbed her 17 times following a domestic quarrel. Wangechi is lucky to have survived.

Before the attack, the man had threatened to kill her, and after the deed, he fled, leaving her for dead. And yet she forgave him.

Maybe if we had long memories like elephants, the quality of our lives, our relationships, would be better.

To begin with, we would not tolerate being mistreated by the same person a second time because we will have read the signs from a mile away and walked in the opposite direction.

If we had long memories, we would have kicked out our inept leaders ages ago and work hard to ensure that they will never hold a leadership position again, after all, we hold the power of the vote.

If we had long memories, we would hold politicians to account and put them to task over the many unfulfilled promises that hang over their heads.

If we had long memories, we would generally make more informed decisions and the procrastinators (I belong to this group) among us would stop postponing what can be done today because we know putting off things will eventually come to bite us. Here’s to long memories!

The writer is the Editor, ‘Society’ and Magazines, ‘Daily Nation’; [email protected]