Tenda wema nenda zako. A popular Swahili phrase that loosely translates to Do good and go your way, is one that is proving to be relevant during this Covid-19 crisis. The prevailing circumstances, that is the reality of the coronavirus in Kenya and consequently the harsh measures being put in place to fight it, have drastically shifted the mwananchi’s lifestyle. Many Kenyans have found themselves in a position where they lack basic needs for various reasons be it the loss of employment or loss of business revenue. This, therefore, puts the common mwananchi in an awkward position where they’re at the mercy of charity and government interventions to survive the day.
Of course humanity always surprises us. Individuals and corporates such as Pwani Oil have come forward to help the vulnerable with home supplies that will help the next couple of weeks bearable. There have been reports of apartment owners cutting down the rent costs for their tenants and others even sparing them tenants from rent expenses altogether. These acts of kindness have given many Kenyans a much needed sigh of relief in the face of uncertainty.
Elected leaders haven’t been left out of the wave of philanthropy. For instance, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo was reported to have donated maize worth Sh 1.1 million to all the 23 sub-counties in his constituency. Through his Twitter handle, he said the exercise was in conjunction with the local leadership. Efforts such as this where a leader goes beyond his position’s mandate are a very welcome move. A crisis calls for pulling of all efforts together to make sure that not a single person is left behind to die of either disease or hunger.
However, in classic Kenyan style some elected officials have taken this opportunity to pursue political mileage. The past few weeks have seen politicians plaster their names and even faces on the coronavirus-related donations; sanitizers, water tanks and handwash. This, of course, has drawn a lot of criticism from the public who termed such moves as vain and self-serving. Rightfully so because it isn’t rocket science to realize that politicians use charity as a means to an end. The end being that these actions will serve their future political ambitions.
There’s nothing legally wrong about this but to stroke one’s ego and hungrily seek applause in the middle of a crisis is just morally wrong. It speaks against the basis of humanity and kindness. To add insult to injury, some of these donations are actually funded by taxpayers’ money. It therefore makes no sense to have a permanent reminder of one’s incompetence in undertaking the roles of his/her position. Reason being that these interventions coming in the form of charity are actually some of the things their respective offices should have resolved even in their first year in power.
Some have been bold enough to support their decisions terming it necessary for citizens to acknowledge the source of these donations. Which then beats the whole point of giving. Religious books have numerous messages encouraging man to give without tying any credit, applause or expectations to the act. For a self-proclaimed religious nation, we are going against the very teachings of the Holy books. The Messiah whose resurrection was celebrated and observed this past weekend, was the embodiment of servant leadership. Despite the numerous miracles he performed Jesus always stood in the light of his humility. So if there’s someone that politicians need to emulate, it’s him. That in the spirit of Easter, folks may remember that there’s no room for their egos when helping out.
Perhaps instead of painting one’s name on a water tank, a politician could instead write a message that spreads positivity and educates his/her constituents. One message that has remained constant from the Health Cabinet Secretary is the need for teamwork. We, Kenyans, are in this fight against coronavirus together. Therefore, let us remember that there’s no ‘I’ in team and do what needs to be done to successfully pull the country out of this crisis.