It’s time to wake up, reclaim the city from clueless leaders

 It’s time to wake up, reclaim the city from clueless leaders

Congatulations to the Kenya women’s national volleyball team are in order. Malkia Strikers have this week brought down hosts Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria to book a place in the July-August Tokyo Summer Olympics. It is a high moment for coach Paul Bitok and the Kenyan girls. They swept the boards clean to return an unbeaten victory in Yaoundé. It has been 16 long years of waiting since the nine-times African champions last made it to the Olympics. Apart from our global beaters in track events, we have one more event to look forward to in the forthcoming Tokyo sporting fanfare. The team captain’s cheerful words are worth echoing. After Malkia had beaten the hosts, the skipper, Mercy Moim, had a pithy message for her continent, “Have faith in African coaches.”

Feats like the Malkia victory remind us that Kenya is not living through an endless night of darkness. For our situation often teases us with sadness, despair and even the temptation of cynicism. We are drawn towards asking with the biblical man called Nathaniel, when he first heard of Christ, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The Kenyan girls have once again reminded us that there are lots of good things in our Nazareth. If we don’t talk about them that frequently in these columns, it is because the house is on fire, anyway. Someone is shooting at locusts with a gun and blowing a whistle at them. Another one is killing his wife and children and thereafter committing suicide. Meanwhile those who should care are trapped in sundry stupors that we need to rescue them from.
When the kitchen catches fire, you don’t luxuriate in the living room, or in some other chamber in the house, charming up yourself with the thought that all is well. You leave your comfort zone to attend to the fire. Going forward, therefore, we can only expect that the responsible authorities will do everything possible to make our girls shine in Japan.

Kenyans are justified to expect nothing less than gold from Japan. The Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, for her part, continues to steer sports admirably. Here is one more chance for her to give the country something to smile about. Over to you, Madam Cabinet Secretary. The country is watching. Let us not have another repeat of the Brazil saga.

Away from these successes and victories, our work is still cut out for us. It is an assignment that speaks of a people who do not seem to know what is good for them. If they do, then they have no idea about what should be done. The crisis that has hit the city of Nairobi is a good example. The county government of East Africa’s foremost metropolis is in free fall, courtesy of an apathetic citizenry. There is no governor, no deputy governor. Yet even while they were there they made no difference. A governor who is the property of the courts has belatedly purported to nominate a deputy. There are also impeachment issues hanging above the governor’s neck, like a Greek sword.

Let me put it in context. Nairobi residents care little about their city. Look at their attitude about elections in the city. Significant numbers of them think that they should vote in the villages. Meanwhile lost-looking characters from upcountry are ferried into the city in lorries. They have come to vote for someone in the local political class. The people of the city return to find a county assembly decided for them by outsiders.

For five years, they live with this assembly. I will bet you my last coin. A majority of Nairobi residents cannot even name their Member of County Assembly. And 99 per cent cannot name five MCAs in the city. The ones who can be named are those who have distinguished themselves for causing fracas in the assembly. They are not remembered for anything constructive.

I am willing to bet a further coin that I do not yet have. Ninety percent of city residents cannot mention the names of half of the Nairobi MPs. Half cannot name half of the constituencies. It is also possible that 100 per cent cannot mention any motion that a legislator in the city has taken to the Senate, the National Assembly, or to the County Assembly. That is how apathetic city residents are. During the population census in August last year, many went back to their rural homes to be counted there.

This is how the county government ends up with clueless jokers in chains. You cannot blame the clowns for running down the city. They really don’t know why they were elected, apart from thinking that it is all about enriching themselves. They accordingly spend most of their time scheming to get money out of city coffers. They conspire to make junket trips and sundry joyrides out of the country, with the solitary intent of white-collar looting through allowances. Their focus is strictly built around travel, money, land, city county houses, tenders, mortgages, fisticuffs and scandals.

Meanwhile potholes in city roads are degenerating into craters, everywhere. Sewage in the streets is accepted as normal. Water shortages, dark streets and alleys are a part of life. Moreover, the alleys in the city centre are now latrines. People empty here just about anything that presses them, regardless that it is solid or liquid. If you should have the misfortune of walking through these alleys, you are not sure whether you should look up to avoid seeing the mess, or look down to avoid stepping in it. Nairobians must wake up to reclaim their city.

Barrack Muluka

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