What a MAD-araka Day!

Posted by on 2nd June 2020

Categories:   Uncategorised

The number is 57. 57 years since Kenya attained self-rule but nothing on the ground reflects what our forefathers had envisioned for this country almost six decades ago. If you’re a reggae fan then the song Nothing to Smile about” by renowned Jamaican band, Morgan Heritage, aptly describes the current situation we are in. The chorus sings:

Look pon di gully side
Do you see anything fi smile bout
Look at that hungry child
Do you see anything fi smile bout
Look at the school weh deh youth dem go fi get dem education
Do you see anything fi smile bout
Look at the conditions of our police stations
Do you see anything fi smile bout

So do Kenyans see anything to smile about given our current state’s state? Majority would definitely respond to that question with a no. 57 years later Kenya is still fighting disease, poverty but more importantly inequality. The only difference between pre-independence and the post-colonial era is that there’s a different sheriff in charge but the truth is the oppressive colonial system is very much alive. While in the West it mostly manifests itself in the form of racism, here at home it’s the injustice borne out of a classist country that has many Kenyans angry.

Kenyans are mad. Mad at leadership that has time and again underperformed, even on a bare-minimum scale. This feeling of hopelessness is not one that’s just unique to the current regime. It is one that has been passed one from one generation to the other. Sins committed by a state against her people have continued to hurt their victims and their families for aeons. These sins that over time have exposed the discriminatory manner in which a country treats the haves and the have-nots. The poor Kenyan is currently dealing with joblessness, food insecurity, home evictions and demolitions, lack of education for their children and potential death by disease given the floods and Coronavirus pandemic we are fighting.

The existential angst among most Kenyans mirrored against the speech delivered by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday reveals a big disconnect between Kenya’s leadership and her people.

Your dreams cannot flourish in a negative environment whose main currency is anger and animosity,” read part of President Kenyatta’s speech. The paradox in this statement didn’t escape the citizenry. We can’t have a discussion on people’s dreams when the said environment is one built on inequality. The anger and animosity that the President spoke of are well-founded. Between March 12th, when the first case of Covid19 and now, multiple lives have been lost in the hands of police in Kenya. The poorly executed curfew has seen Kenyans subjected to inhumane treatment, from being shot point-blank to others succumbing to the injuries sustained during their encounter with the police.

It should be remembered that on April 1st 2020, the President apologized to Kenyans over the brute force meted out on Kenyans by the police following the death of 13-year-old Yassin Moyo who was killed by a stray bullet and the footage of police mistreating Likoni residents at the ferry channel. Yet in recent days the internet has been awash with graphic images of a young man, Samuel Maina, who was an unfortunate victim of police brutality on 27th May for being 13 minutes late past curfew hour. Another gentleman, Charles Mwenda was put through a traumatic experience where he was forced to spend a cold, rainy night at a police station with the body of his late wife. This despite having all the required documents to make the trip to lay his wife to rest.

That we are witnessing cops treat other citizens as children of a lesser god in 2020 is just heartbreaking. One would expect that after the President’s apology there would be some change in police conduct. But the unjust justice system we have won’t let that come to be, simply because a good number of officers know that they can get away with it. The police’s conduct cannot be changed with one apology. There needs to be an overhaul of the whole system.

The Ministry of Interior gets a huge a chunk of the budget allocation yet it’s one that is clearly not held accountable. The abrasive nature we see with the cops every day is perhaps a direct reflection of the Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i who has in the past ignored summons by Parliament and who speaks down on Kenyans forgetting that he is in that position to serve the country. To have people mandated to “protect and serve” be the same perpetrators is downright evil.

Indeed it is not a ‘Happy’ Madaraka Day because there really is nothing to smile about. Kenya needs to watch the mood in America. The multiple protests currently happening in the US echo the voices of millions of black Americans who continue to be discriminated against a country they have built. The action by the police officers who took the life of yet another black man, George Floyd, on camera speaks volumes of how much America values them. Here in Kenya, the treatment of people like Samuel Maina, Charles Mwenda and the death of young Yassin Juma speaks volumes of how much the government values the majority of its citizens.

Unless inequality is addressed in this country, Kenyans are bound to reach their tipping point as black Americans have.