Ditching our obsession with titles, and other 2018 national resolutions

Thursday January 18 2018

Happy and prosperous 2018! As we begin every year, I appoint myself part of the National Resolution Making Committee!

Respect your elders even if you are bantering with them on social media. I have read tweets to people who have earned their place in Kenya, such as Rev Njoya and Prof Ole Kiyiapi, and cast my eyes down with embarrassment.

We have varied opinions on issues, but many of us cannot beat the two Kenyans I have picked as a random sample with experience, which very often is accompanied by wisdom. Be courteous, because for every point that you raised, they have navigated this nation to that point where your opinion is valid. As they say, experience is the best teacher.

Stop the habit of blaming culture on all the wrong decisions our obsession with materialism has led us to. No culture demands that we build houses that are not lived in, in our ancestral villages. One of the flawed reasons floated around is that we build the houses because we will die one day!


No! Most African cultures had no use for dead bodies, they were thrown away, until a religion in which the dead rise was introduced to us. Death was an honourable transition to ancestorhood, nothing to fear or worry about, merely another rite of passage to a prestigious place where the living would seek your advice and share their meals with you. So do not do that crazy stuff, because “you are afraid of being thought weak or poor”, because no African culture demands it of you.


What is this business of hang-abouts who have ever had political ambition referring to themselves as “Honourable”? You did not get nominated by any political party or even the village cattle deep association to run for any office, you have never been on any ballot paper, but you call yourself Msheshimiwa.

Political ambition does not bequeath you the title Honourable. You must have sat in Parliament to earn it. I propose that every taxpayer now get that title and everyone else get to refer to themselves as Mtumishi! Kenyans will duly acknowledge that you failed any number of miserable attempts to convince them to elect you to represent their interests.


This obsession with titles may be part of a national psyche of feeling inadequate, hence the need to associate more with careers and public offices than acceptance of the self. Every career is now considered a title to prefix a person’s name in pursuit of that seemingly elusive feeling of importance.

It is now common practice to hear of Wakili that, Engineer this, which is unnecessary outside a legal situation or a construction site. Traditionally, honorifics were used for the royalty in monarchies, and the clergy, as churches were very hierarchical.

How about resolving that in 2018, Kenyans generally will try and find fulfilment in the self. It is perfectly alright to be just Wanjiru, Farah or Adhiambo. You are, therefore your achievements are, not the other way round. Suffix.

In politics, Kenyans have been unable to separate political families from hereditary dictatorships. We have bestowed on the Moi, Odinga, Kenyatta and other families overwhelming authority in the political arena. And we continue to build new political dynasties − especially in the event of the death of a politician, it is almost always their son, daughter, brother or wife who will run for political office to succeeded them.

Since we still hold the power of the vote, we are individually or collectively responsible for creating political dynasties that are starting to look like monarchies and we should all stop whining and take back some of our voting power.


Has it gone unnoticed that boda boda riders now wear khaki trousers and reflector jackets like those worn by senior police officers on motorbikes, I suppose as a form of “on the road” deception?

Impersonating a police officer is an offence in this country – forget Waiganjo. And officers generally carry themselves with a disciplined gait, unlike the slop of many a boda boda rider. Will someone intercept this behaviour or shall we wait until we are reaping its fruits and then take all sorts of drastic inconsequential actions like outlawing the wearing of khaki trousers and reflector jackets, or even better, riding boda bodas?

Finally, practice makes perfect. If you practise complaining and finding fault with everything the government does or does not do, you will live a life of perfect complaint. Wisdom attributed to the Buddha says, thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, and habits become character. Your character shapes your destiny. Practice something worthwhile, like joy, focus, efficiency, seeking knowledge, loving, caregiving, etc. Whatever you chose, chose wisely.

And those easy-money schemes all over the place are for the greedy! Many blessings in 2018.

Twitter: @muthonithangwa