Kenya: A country stripped of humanity

Wednesday March 18 2020

There was a time one could predict when trouble would find them in Kenya. Take for instance a few years ago when the most popular advice from loved ones was for one to avoid malls or other crowded places with no easy exit because of possible terrorist attacks. It made sense to avoid such places if you loved your life.

As the years went by, the advice turned to avoiding Nairobi’s city centre during demonstrations. The government of the day did not take it kindly when Kenyans exercised their right to picket and protest. Every once in a while, a few Kenyans lost their lives that way.

And then there are pieces of advice that have transcended the limit of time, such as travelling safe or being careful when using road transport. Given that Kenya loses thousands of people through road accidents every year, arriving safely after a long distance trip was and still is a miracle.

But the last two or three years have seen Kenya evolve into a country where no one can avoid trouble; it finds you where you are.

Nothing shows how fast Kenya is hurtling into anarchy than the shooting incident at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital on Tuesday this week. A young man took pity on his neighbour’s child, who had drowned in a nearby river, and rushed him to the hospital, where he was shot point-blank by a police officer for parking his motorbike in the wrong place. I have tried to wrap my head around what caused the shooting, and the only conclusion I have is that Kenya is a failed state. When a Good Samaritan is shot by a police officer in a hospital of all places, that is a reflection of the state of our country. It is the illustration of the death of our humanity as a people.

It is one thing to have daylight robbers and criminals as our leaders, but something else altogether to live in a troubled society whose soul has been corrupted by the inhumanity meted upon it year after year. We are living in times when trouble isn’t just external, in the form of corrupt leaders and natural calamities, but within us. We are dying for being women who say no to a man’s advances. We say “goodbye” to our children in the morning as they go to school, only to go pick up their small corpses from morgues in the evening. When we help a neighbour’s child, we get shot by the same police officers who can barely catch a simple  thief even after the country spent billions to install CCTV cameras.

The solution doesn’t lie with the dealers we call leaders, or with the Building Bridges Initiative, which is meant to prolong some people’s looting careers. It lies in getting our humanity back. For, how can we fight a system that eats us when we eat each other ourselves? Of course this isn’t an easy task when all we see around us is more inhumanity. But you can’t fight desertification by adding more sand to the desert.

It is time for Kenyans to ask ourselves if this is who we truly are, and if this is the society we desire. Because if our recent troubles are anything to go by, then we are losing our humanity faster than our money is being stolen by the corrupt people we elected.

The writer is a social activist. Email: [email protected]