Of course I was among the many Kenyans that were horrified when that NTV exposé, “White Alert”, was aired two weeks ago.
Like many, I asked myself what there is left to eat in Kenya — it began with the investigative feature “Red Alert”, when it turned out that the meat sold in supermarkets here was over pumped with chemicals that made it a health hazard.
That was bad enough because I am an unapologetic meat lover.
And then it also turned out that some maize millers were feeding us poisonous maize meal, a revelation that was especially heartbreaking because I think in another life I was born in Western Kenya — I think I have written here before about my love for ugali, which I can eat Monday to Monday, morning and evening if I had my way.
But this was not all. We were also informed that even the milk we’ve been feeding our children and enjoying with our tea might be slowly killing us.
Before this was the mercury in sugar that prompted Kenyans to start taking sugarless tea (until the shock wore off) and the sukuma wiki planted in raw sewage.
You must have also read about traders who use cancer-causing chemicals to ripen up bananas.
There are also the pesticides banned in Western countries, which we continue to insist on using in our farms. What about bread?
Have you ever taken a good look at the bread in shops and supermarkets that manufacturers pass of as “brown” when in reality the bread has been dyed brown?
With all this in mind, it seems that there is, truly, little left to eat in this country that is safe.
In a nutshell, this sad state of affairs, I think, all boils down to lack of integrity.
Generally, we’re a dishonest people, dishonesty that starts small, eventually metamorphosing into this full-blown cancer called corruption, which has brought our country to its knees.
Sometime back, there was a video clip doing rounds showing how unscrupulous roadside potato sellers fleece their customers.
Since they sell by the bucket, they arrange the potatoes in a way that ensures they sell potatoes worth half a bucket for the price of a full one.
You have also probably fallen prey to the hawkers that insert a rotten orange into the juicy-looking pile they sell you.
In my county, the county government charges a parking fee of Sh100, but if you feel this amount is too much, you could offer the parking attendant half that amount, or less depending on your negotiation skills, which goes into his or her pocket because you don’t get issued a ticket.
Just last weekend, a parking attendant, a woman, approached me with a big smile and went ahead to make small talk, something to do with the unpredictable weather, after which she finally got to the point, cheerfully informing me that if I was simply dashing in and out of the supermarket, then I would not need a ticket.
Such small acts of dishonesty bother me, so I looked her in the eye and asked her to give me a ticket.
I then reached into my purse and handed her the Sh100. You should have seen the hostile look she gave me.
If such a person somehow made it to the county’s highest office, imagine the billions she would shamelessly steal from the county’s coffers.
It is such incidents that bring to the fore how egocentric we have become over the years, all many of us care about is how we will profit, and will think nothing of taking the bread out of someone’s mouth or even killing to enrich ourselves.
With this in mind, I am convinced that the MP, governor, CS or CEO stealing from the public coffers started small, like that parking attendant.
The writer is the Editor, ‘Society’ and Magazines, ‘Daily Nation’; [email protected]