Cool down, mediocrity is in national psyche

Wednesday October 09 2019

It is a week and counting since a car slid off MV Harambee into the Indian Ocean, taking with it a woman and her four-year-old daughter.

Both the Kenya Navy (which is a stone's throw away from the scene of the accident) and the Kenya Ferry Services (who operate the ferry) have admitted that, indeed, they lack the expertise and equipment to dive that deep and retrieve the wreckage and bodies. They were located only Wednesday.


This led to help being sought from some of the most unlikely of places — from a Swedish volunteer to Chinese divers and experts from South Africa.

And, as usual, Kenyans are outraged — and rightfully so — spewing our frustration mostly online but all over the place. But even as we do that, do we really have the moral authority to point the finger at the agencies?

They should have ensured the safety of the passengers in the ferry and attempted to rescue the victims while the car was still afloat on the Likoni Channel, and in the worst of circumstances, made efforts to retrieve the bodies within hours.


The answer is no. First of all, the incident took place in broad daylight. And what did hundreds of people on board the ferry do? They were busy taking selfies and videos to share on social media! Was there an attempt at saving these two poor souls from drowning?

What moral authority do we have to point fingers at seemingly incompetent authorities, complaining of negligence and incompetence? But incompetence has almost become a norm in this part of the world. How many of us can proudly say they got that job they do on merit?


Most of our institutions are led by incompetent sycophants or the so-called slay queens and kings who only God knows how they rose to their positions of power and influence while the most competent and qualified are left to waste away, jobless.

You want more proof of the state of professionalism in this country? Our hospitals have become death traps at the hands of quacks masquerading as medical practitioners. More?

The Likoni incident came barely a month after we lost eight young souls through a classroom block collapse at Precious Talents Top School in Nairobi. But instead of being angry and demanding answers why the school was operating under such deplorable conditions, we ran to social media to defend the owner!


The media industry hasn’t been spared either. While our journalism continues to be dominated by socialites who can barely comprehend that the profession is about making the society better, we are thinking of shutting down journalism schools while those who were called to practice it are left out.

Let’s not even talk about music; we are in a league of our own. We are blinded by political correctness; criticise the poor content that has dominated the industry for years and be labelled a sell-out.

We don’t want to be corrected to improve. Criticism is met with harsh words and, sometimes, insults. And they wonder why a Kenyan fan would pay Sh10,000 to attend a Fally Ipupa or Ferre Gola concert but don’t show up for a free video launch of a local artiste.


Incompetence is a normality in Kenya. We ought not to be outraged by the Navy. We ought not to be outraged by KFS. They are a reflection of who we are as Kenyans. They are us!

Ms Ongaji is a correspondent for ‘Taifa Leo’ newspaper. [email protected] @ungaji