Dear Mr President, two years ago I lost my grandfather to bone cancer. He was a great man. I learned a lot from him. All the history about Kenya that I know I learned from him. He was everything that anyone would have wished for in a grandfather. He had been around, you know, for quite a while.
He would narrate to me the struggles he and others endured in pursuit of independence, the sacrifices patriotic men and women made in the hope that they would hand over a free and liberated Kenya to their children and grandchildren.
My grandfather took every civil obligation very seriously. Every time a chief called a baraza, my grandfather would be among the first to arrive. During national holiday celebrations, he would attend the local ceremony that would be presided over by the district officer. He did so, not because he was a Kanu stooge or liked then president Daniel arap Moi; his conviction was that only through observing and learning about the government’s policies would he be able to make an informed choice during elections. He did not believe in making such important decisions based on raw emotions.
I voted for the first time in 2002. I will never forget the thrill. But I did not vote for you, Mr President. I was swallowed up by the Rainbow movement and my choice was Mwai Kibaki.
My grandfather voted for you because he saw in you a young man who could rescue the country from the mire of corruption that it was stuck in, a leader who could ensure that every Kenyan got a decent shot at life. As recorded in one of his diaries, he saw you as a break from the norm. He thought you represented change. The rest, as they say, Mr President, is history. I wonder what he would have thought about your recent confession that you are unable to fight corruption. And I want to ask you, Mr President: “Where is the Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta that my grandfather voted for in 2002, whom he envisioned as a change agent?”
You know what hurts and irks so many people Mr President? That a few days after you made that bold declaration, a report came out that more than Sh5 billion might have been looted from the Ministry of Health. Mr President, just think about that for a moment and let it sink in. Billions stolen, yet women and children are dying every day, their lives halted by diseases that would have been prevented had some of this money been put to the correct use.
If the government had allocated some of this money to research related to, say, a cure for cancer or something like that, might my grandfather have been one of the beneficiaries and, therefore, still alive to enable me to continue tapping into his wealth of knowledge?
Ngai! Tell you what, Mr President? It is morally, intellectually, spiritually, and politically insincere for you to say that you do not know what to do about the prehensile tentacles of corruption that are destroying our country. You know why? Because the government, your government, is full of political hacks, political refugees and cronies with no integrity and whose significant qualification is their mastery of “pay to play”. They do not know what public service means. I doubt that they have ever been in an ethics class. You know it, I know it, and everybody knows it. It is a disaster (recall Donald Trump’s pompous voice?).
Allow me to share a short story, Mr President. My grandfather once owned a matatu christened “Mukurima Shambani Baricho”. One day in the dead of night, four men came into his compound and drove away the vehicle. It appeared that they had a copy of the key. Their mission was so well-coordinated that it was obvious that they had inside help. It reminded one of the American Ninja movie where the character played by Michael Dudikoff quips, “Way too easy?” When I asked my grandfather what happened that night, his answer was: “A hyena can only enter the compound through the hole created by the family dog”.
Mr President, get those family dogs the hell out of the government!
Mukurima Kariuki is a conflict resolution strategist based in the US.