And then Kenyans are nervous about the commemorations of Saba Saba this coming Monday. The back and forth in the media between Raila, Cord, Kenyatta II, and Jubilee over the so-called national dialogue keeps reminding we the average Kenyans that we are just pawns in a power tussle that isn't ours. So we're counting down to Monday to see how the Cord coalition, nostalgic for revolutionary times but completely lacking in revolutionary ideology, will pull off this latest effort to convince Kenyans that it has correctly diagnosed the state of the nation.
These are weighty, life-and-death issues, and in no way do I mean to trivialize them. But there's another form of violence that is sweeping through the urban, techno-savvy youth - that of sexualized decadence.
It has always been there, as the Mavuno pastoral team reminded us a few months ago, to the self-righteous furor of many Nairobians. But over the last few weeks, it gained a notch when Larry Madowo interviewed a so-called socialite on The Trend, and now the latest discussion is the decadence witnessed during the Masaku sevens rugby tournament last weekend. The appearance of such characters on mainstream media and respectable blogs has meant that the violence of skin bleaching, or hypersexualizing African women, or flaunting wealth (real or imagined), or pictures of binge drinking and frolicking in public are becoming common place and acceptable in a country where most young people are under-occupied. What does this mean?
It means that Kenyan youth from the so-called middle class, who have the intellectual tools and resources to think about this country and stop it from sinking to the dogs, have their minds distorted and preoccupied. That is worrying. And as Fanon warned us almost sixty years ago in his last book The Wretched of the earth, such distractions are a political problem. In his chapter on national consciousness, Fanon said that proper African leaders needed to be aware that African youth were more vulnerable to decadence than the youth in the West where a good proportion of that decadence comes from. The difference, his argument implies, is not in the amount of decadence in either continent, but in the availability of strong institutions and ideas to give a support against that decadence. And I paraphrase:
Normally, any given society maintains a balance between the mental and material level of its members, and the entertainment it provides. But in under-developed countries, young people are exposed to forms of leisure designed for the youth with more resources in capitalist countries, forms such as detective novels, gambling machines, sexy photographs, pornographic literature, films banned to those under sixteen, and above all alcohol. In the West, more youth are protected from the harmful past-times by their family circles, their education system and the relatively high standard of living of the working classes. But in an African country, where education and consciousness are uneven, where societies have been destabilized by the violent collide between contemporary trends and African traditions, the youth - who are naturally vulnerable and impressionable by virtue of their age - are more vulnerable to the assaults from Western culture. Their families, communities and institutions are very often unable to unite and have a coherent response to such attacks.
So while we may think that a woman showing off her behind, or her expensive shoes or her bleached skin is simply something to either laugh at, or be embarrassed about and move on, something more sinister is going on: the minds of our rich youth are in the clouds while the lives of the majority poor youth are crumbling around them. We have the proverbial Marie Antoinettes binge drinking on weekends, thinking about shoes, wigs and buttocks, while millions of their agemates around the country are wondering if they will be alive tomorrow, or are seriously considering being paid to blow up a building a meaningful job. And the media thinks they can be the neutral party and cover both sides equally. This form of mental and moral violence on the youth who have the resources and education to improve the country is such a tragedy. And sorry to say, NACADA boss John Mututho - bless him - is not helping much, because he thinks the problem can be solved with an administrative stick rather than with conscientious leadership and increased opportunities for our youth.
I worry for our country Kenya.