The arrest and release of Boniface Mwangi last week brought about a conversation among Kenyans that is uncomfortable, painful, but absolutely necessary. While Boniface saw in the arrest an opportunity to discuss revolution, for many Kenyans, the whole incident revived old pain, that had been opened again just a week or two before with the arrest of Beatrice Waithera, or Betty wa Shiro, for being a prominent voice in the anti-corruption demonstration that ended in the usual Kenyan way. With the police firing tear gas.
Many Kenyans complain that the church has fallen silent as the people are oppressed. The implication is that the church doesn’t care. But I don’t think that’s the problem. I think the church has just become clueless. It doesn’t know what citizens are facing, but most of all, it is blind to the citizens because it is infected by the ideology of the day.
And this lack of self-awareness of the church is not new. During colonialism, the church turned a blind eye to – and sometimes actively supported –colonial oppression of Africans, because missionaries also believed that we Africans were backward and needed to be civilized by the love of Christ.
Most Kenyans are familiar with the medical appeals that seem so overwhelming, that even with all our generosity, the magnitude and frequency of the appeals are overwhelming. And yet, there is a political solution to this: universal healthcare.
But what is happening now? The government has a private-modeled government health insurance called NHIF. The problem with reducing government involvement in healthcare to money is that it makes private healthcare practitioners greedy and beyond oversight. It has therefore meant that the government has been bleeding taxpayer funds through fraudulent claims by private hospitals. In the end, NHIF has now pulled out of funding major care, surgeries and tests. When we initially said that NHIF was not sustainable, salaried Kenyans pointed to how nice NHIF was to pay their bills and wouldn't believe us. Our prediction has, unfortunately, come to pass.
A few years ago, in one of my first blog posts in which I openly discussed having been a cancer patient, I hinted to churches (which I doubt read blogposts) on how they could lead the conversation on universal healthcare in Kenya. So as one can imagine, one of my greatest disappointments in the #LipaKamaTender movement has been how the church failed to take the opportunity to lead the country in saving our healthcare. If the church had picked up the issue up and run with it two years ago, we may not have had the strike in the first place.
When I was asked to discuss sexual harassment, it was around the time that there was a spike in the stories I was hearing of sexual bullying. I’d heard of students being asked to see lecturers in their offices behind closed doors, of students going to administrative offices and a suggestion being made that the service would be rendered after doing a certain favor. Because I was single for quite some time, I also know what it means for married men to suggest that maybe you’re lonely and need some company.
When I was your age, I was an education student at Kenyatta University. One semester, our history of education professor gave us an assignment, which was to write a term paper on the impact of different government commissions on Kenyan education.
I took the assignment seriously. I read a number of books on the topic. I even typed and printed my paper, which was a big deal, because there were very few computers available for students.
However, I was fortunate to have a father with a computer that looked like a huge carton. So to type my assignment, I had to go home. I then printed the work and even paid to have it bound.
One of my classmates looked at all my effort and laughed. She said to me: what’s the point of putting all this effort into the assignment? I’m just going to copy someone else’s work, and I will still get an A.
This week, I have been horrified by what I consider to be hateful, violent speech on social media from people whom members of the famous KOT (Kenyans on Twitter) consider to be President Uhuru’s mouthpieces. The first of this talk that I witnessed came from Pauline Njoroge, a self-proclaimed rags-to-riches communications officer at NEPAD, whose obnoxious facebook post doubting the value of Nairobi National Park went viral, and which I first saw on Diana Okello’s wall.
I’d only heard of Pauline Njoroge in passing just a few days before. But the ignorance in the post shocked me so much, that I decided to check Pauline Njoroge’s wall to check if, maybe, I was getting her wrong.
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