On Kenya’s Deputy President and Hollywood…

A few years ago, Kenya embarked on one of its build-the-leaders-houses-they-don’t-need-or-deserve projects. It was decided by the accounting and budgeting powers that be that the perfect use of taxpayers money was to construct an official residence for the vice-president. The projected budget was around Kshs 179 million. By the time the house was completed last year, taxpayers had involuntarily poured Kshs 453 million into it. Now, that’s a lot of money in any currency!

That house was a source of anger and frustration for many people. Being that we are so steeped in the accept-and-move-on culture, we did just that. We accepted that money had been spent unwisely, and moved on knowing that there is a permanent official residence for all future vice-presidents. Let’s just ignore the fact that the then vice-president opted to only use the office space in the house. No, actually, let’s not sweep that under the proverbial rug because that move right there was a clear indicator that the residence was an unnecessary addition to our country’s landscape.

Just recently it was revealed that the government will spend an extra Kshs 100 million to “refurbish” the house. That’s how you know that people have obviously unfollowed and unfriended SANITY. How else do you explain this? There is no word that could sufficiently describe this strain of wastefulness.

Before I go on…here is a photo of the house courtesy of Daily Nation in case you missed it.

Photo courtesy of Nation Media. http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1899432/-/item/0/-/wd9wq3z/-/index.html
The Deputy President’s official residence in Karen Nairobi

Apparently this fancy house does not meet the current deputy president’s taste and style. Oh, watch out now…he has gone Hollywood on us. He wants the size of the windows reduced. Yes, people, the windows are too big for him. I thought having natural light flood one’s house is supposed to be a good thing? It not only illuminates but also improves a person’s mood. It minimizes the use of electricity which lowers the bill that taxpayers have to pay. Additionally, it results in energy conservation which is good for the environment. Climate change anyone!? It’s a win all round.

The floors in the sitting room, main lounge and bedrooms will be refinished using timber blocks. It must be nice to be able to get the floors you want but don’t need on someone else’s coin. The current doors will be replaced with mahogany ones. Yurp…he most certainly has no interest in opening and closing doors made from any other material. Not to worry, the swimming pool was not forgotten in the renovation plans. The tiles around it will be changed from ceramics to mazeras stone tiles. Yes, those ceramics are too mainstream for him.

More details on the “upgrade” can be found in this article.

In my opinion, a deputy president’s official residence should be sturdy, functional and secure. If the deputy president wants to make it feel personal then he can throw in some artwork, vintage furniture, trinkets, souvenirs and family heirlooms among others. There is no need to alter the structure. It is after all not a permanent situation. He’ll be in there for a term or two and then he has to vacate the premises. What will happen next? Should we then expect the next deputy president to come in and spend another Kshs 100 million to adjust the house to satisfy his or her every stylistic whim and desired taste?

This is happening against a backdrop of a teachers strike, increased insecurity, sporadic electricity and water supply, ill-equipped health facilities, a primary and secondary education system that leaves a lot to be desired…the list is long. Talk about warped priorities. Ah ah these leaders…



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