Tag Archives: Water

KENYAN LEADERS = REFUSAL TO PROSPER

Kenyan leaders seem to have a very hostile relationship with the country’s prosperity. They constantly and very determinedly refuse to let us, as a nation, prosper. They have honed their “turn non-issues into issues” skills so well that it’s almost amazing. Almost. They are too busy dodging the country’s pertinent challenges by proposing/passing laws that are so life unchanging it should be a crime.

Last week, members of parliament proposed a law that would result in people being jailed for a year or paying Kshs 2 million for failing to refer to MPs as “Honorable” when addressing them. Yes, you read it correctly…jail time or fine for not referring to an MP as  H.O.N.O.R.A.B.L.E! I understand the title but is it really necessary…especially given the fact that there is very little that is honorable about these MPs!? If you have to threaten Kenyans with punishment/fines so that they can refer to you as “Honorable” then maybe you should question why we are not inclined to refer to you as such to begin with.

According to the MPs, “the principle purpose of this Bill is to promote the good image of the country, foster orderliness, discipline and decorum in the process of governance.” When did having titles promote the image of a country!? If that is the case then we should all get titles. Instant boost to Kenya’s image right there! And orderliness!? Where is this that they are looking for orderliness? If it is at state functions then orderliness will be achieved through proper planning, coordination and execution. Titles are not going to do that for you.  Discipline and decorum in the process of governance!? Say what now!? Titles can make that happen!? Well, we have a president and deputy president that we refer to as such all the time but that hasn’t done anything for us on the governance front, dear MPs. How do you explain that!? Referring to you as member of parliament so and so hasn’t worked out well in that department for us either. MP is a title too no!? Or doesn’t it have the magic that the titles you are proposing have!?

“The Bill also proposes a hierarchy for State officials according to seniority. The ranking of the public officials will see MPs placed higher than governors, Supreme Court judges, former Presidents and Vice-Presidents.” In short, the MPs basically want to feel more superior than other public officials. What is that feeling of superiority going to do for you MPs!? Will it make you better leaders!? Will it ensure that you will play a pivotal role in attainment of the MDGs!? What is this silent fight that you seem to have, especially with governors, all about!? Why are you forcing the rest of us to join your ego trip!?

Dear MPs,

If you really want to foster orderliness, discipline and decorum in the process of governance then simply act right. Be disciplined individually as well as collectively and fulfill the promises that you made to your constituents. It wouldn’t hurt to take your responsibilities seriously instead of making a mockery out of the people who voted you in believing that you would make a difference. There can only be as much order as you want there to be. You are the leaders, you set the pace, you set the tone. Surround yourselves with people, and also be people, who are invested in making a positive impact on Kenyan communities, and all these things will fall into place. You want to be chaotic and then claim that a title will foster orderliness, discipline and decorum!? How now!?

As for promoting the country’s image, well, you can do that by acting right, as mentioned above. Also, tackling the issues that we as a country are facing. Focus your energies on addressing insecurity, corruption, poor education, lack of health care amenities, underdeveloped transport systems, poaching, inconsistent electricity and water supply, among others. If properly addressed, these are some of the things that will boost our country’s image not titles!

Try and get it together quick please.

Sincerely,

A Kenyan.

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Water Anyone!?

June 5th was World Environment Day – which is not to be confused with World Water Day which was on March 22nd. I, for some reason, was thinking a lot about water yesterday. It is after all part of the environment so my thoughts were justified on that level. Every other day seems to be “X Day”  no? Many of these are intricately interrelated and I wonder why they separate them. Take water and the environment for example, can we really talk about one without mentioning the other? But I digress…back to water.

I believe that water is life and everyone should have access to it.

Where I come from, water shortages are the norm. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have storage containers filled with water around the house. In fact, there were brief periods when anything in the house that could hold water had water in it – cooking pots, rehabilitated juice and soda bottles, and rarely used vases among others. We were constantly prepared for water deprivation or rather water rationing, as the powers that be like to call it. There were several occasions when the rationing lasted so long that we ended up using all the water that we had stored. We had to buy water from Kyalo, the water vendor, whose side hustle was selling vegetables at the local market. Those were also the times that I cried because we didn’t have water.

Yes, there were times when I cried because there was no water. I cried partly because I was sad and partly because I was angry. Why sad? Well, think of the number of things that you cannot do without water – cooking, quenching your thirst, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, washing dishes and clothes, and flushing the toilet, to name a few. Lack of water makes it difficult for one to carry out basic activities. Who wants to live in such a reality? Every time I turned on the tap, and heard that sound that I can only describe as choking, followed by the three or four teasing water drops, I felt sad. Why angry? Angry because I knew that the dry tap was more often than not a result of corruption, mismanagement of funds, poor policies, shoddy planning, lack of leadership and general questionable development strategies. Moreover, there were neighborhoods that rarely experienced this rationing because they were inhabited by the wealthy, movers and shakers and “leaders.” Clearly there are those whose water needs and rights are prioritized over others.

Our situation was not unique and neither was it the worst. There are many people in Kenya who have to walk for record-breaking distances just to get water. What I don’t understand, to this day, is why our leaders do not make “having access to clean water” a priority. Yes, they have explicitly shown us that they are more driven by their unquenchable thirst for wealth and hunger for all things luxurious. But are they really blind to the thirst for water that their constituents, domestic workers or even relatives back in their villages have? Don’t they ever wonder, for example, how their grandparents’ friends are able to cook and clean in areas that have chronic water shortages? When they drive by their constituents exhausted and carrying water on their head, does it ever cross their mind that this is a situation that they can rectify?

Water is such a basic necessity that no one should be deprived of it regardless of their geographical location, financial background or which politician they happen to be well-acquainted with. Our leaders are truly failing us in this regard. Water access, quality, efficiency and sustainability need to get on their agenda. Maybe if they spent a day without water that would shift their perspective and priorities. Leaders, water is life, I say. You doubt? About 70 percent of the human body is made of water – do you need any more evidence!? Here’s to access to clean water for all.