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We need to do a better job of teaching our children the value of hard work

Friday December 18 2015

Police officers respond to protesters during a demonstration against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza's third term in Musaga, Bujumbura, on May 20, 2015. The window for rescuing the people of Burundi is fast closing. If the East African Community is going to deploy its standby force, the time to do so is now. AFP PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA

Police officers respond to protesters during a demonstration against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza's third term in Musaga, Bujumbura, on May 20, 2015. The window for rescuing the people of Burundi is fast closing. If the East African Community is going to deploy its standby force, the time to do so is now. AFP PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA 

MUTUMA MATHIU
By MUTUMA MATHIU
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Many Kenyans are mesmerised by a young man in the news who reportedly gave his mother and hairdresser sister millions of shillings.

I presume the discussion is centreing around envy, with many hoping that they were in the young man’s (or at least his mother’s) shoes.

It is pretty obvious what we should be thinking: the mother/sister ought to have asked where these huge sums of money were coming from.

I am not imputing improper motive or prejudicially discussing a matter before the courts.

I am trying to enter a discussion on the moral crisis we face.

Every time I hear that the country has incurred more debt, I get a shiver of horror.

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Not because debt is necessarily bad, but because I am not convinced that the money is well used.

To borrow and waste is one of the worst things a human being can do because it guarantees no end to trouble.

The problem with our country is not a legal or political one.

We are a country of dopamine psychos, a race addicted to the highs we get from lying and concealing the truth.

Even in our families, our marriages are not monogamous unions; they are polyamorous arrangements where folks pretend to be married but are sexually experimental.

We are raising a generation — this is proven by research — that has no interest in investing effort to achieve its ambitions.

Working for your wealth, according to the young ones, is like being what is termed a “starter wife”: the old fashioned woman who is at a man’s side when they are struggling for wealth, a sitting duck in the crosshairs of a hungrier successor.

This is not to create the impression that we are peculiarly corrupt.

Ours is not the only society with moral contradictions.

I was reading an old report on the UK which was quoting research showing that 60 per cent of males had cheated and 45 per cent of females had done so and that roughly 50 per cent of marriages failed.

WHAT IS WEALTH?
What the get-rich-quick generation forgets is that wealth is not a cash flow condition.

It is not even money in the bank. It is an attitude towards life.

There are many people hiding Sh200 million under their mattresses who are as poor as church mice.

Why? No amount of money cannot be spent in one afternoon.

I can spend Sh1 billion in one hour and I will spend it wisely and in a manner that brings good returns.

Or I could just waste it on luxury and instant gratification.

That is why I argue that there is a difference between wealth and an unusual deluge of cash.

Wealth is born of restlessness, an inability to sleep up to 10am, a willingness to obsessively hustle, a preparedness to deny oneself, a tendency to pinch pennies until they sing, a capacity for hard work, and a good measure of risk-taking and luck.

If you do not have most of these qualities, having money is just an exercise in postponing your destined, inescapable state — penury.

Which is why I believe that wealth can not truly be inherited, unless the attitudes and behaviour necessary for its creation and retention are passed on too.

PROPER PARENTING
If Kenyans want a cure for this everything-for-nothing culture which is the root cause of corruption, then it has to start with the children.

Parents must stop giving their children everything they ask for.

Parents should stop stealing to buy their children high-performance sports cars.

They must inculcate in their offspring the value of struggle, of savouring the journey and relishing a good fight, not just being enticed by the juicy destination.

And for heaven’s sake, if your daughter shows up at home with Sh50 million, after you come to (I am assuming you will have the decency to actually faint), please call the police.

Finally, we have to know where our money is going. If it is going into plots and cars, we are sunk.

*****
The window for rescuing the people of Burundi is fast closing.

If the East African Community is going to deploy its standby force, the time to do so is now.

Not to wait for donors or authority from the African Union, but to deploy now and do regularisation later.

Once the country is in the full grip of massacres, once neighbours begin to meddle in earnest, it will be many days before the situation can be contained.

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