Living in baboon country

Guys. I know I’ve lied about this before. That story about the baboon in my house was a hoax, and I apologise. I lied, and I’m sorry. You’ll be pleased to note that my remorse isn’t enough for the ancestors, and I’ll tell you why.

For the past few months, my home has been overrun by mummy and daddy baboons, and all their children. And man, those animals have a lot of children.

There are no dry spells in baboon country. Plus with Covid-19, I guess they have nothing else to do other than have sex and invade homesteads looking for food.

Can’t say I blame them. I’d also be hungry if I were making babies all the darn time. Anyhow, let me not veer too far away from the point, which is this: my household has been taken over by a family of four-legged primates who come and go as they please. They are a vicious lot who always leave behind a trail of destruction.

See, I used to have a kitchen garden, which was a great source of pride. If you’ve met me, then you know that I have two left thumbs, and none of them is green. So when my small-small veggie patch took root and flourished, I was super excited. I mean, my days of buying spinach grown in sewage were over. That was until the baboons showed up in their numbers.

They are so ruthless, those big-bummed buggers. Nothing is off-limits, even if they are not going to eat it. They uproot shambas line by line, ripping things out of the ground, smelling them and then throwing them away if they don’t tickle their brutish taste buds. I’ve ‘lived’ with them for months now, and I know what they like to eat, and what they love to destroy.

Avocados, bananas

Carrots, sukuma wiki, spring onions and capsicums are not their favourite. They are more partial to pawpaw, avocados, bananas (no surprises there) and, oddly enough, dog rice and peanut butter. No idea why.

Most of the things they like are found in the kitchen, so God only knows why they bother ripping my poor ‘shambalette’ to shreds every time they come around. Cruelty is a sport for these beasts. Then again, maybe baboons are from Mars, and humans are from Venus. Either way, after my latest face-to-face with a big ole monkey in my kitchen, my sister gave me a catapult, which we now fondly refer to as a ‘baboon gun’.

Shooting stones at baboons is our new sport. My house manager is a master in the art of stone-throwing (but does she say?), and flinging missiles at big monkeys has become a daily occurrence. Yes, I understand that they expend a lot of energy procreating and that this new coronavirus has reconfigured the food chain, but look, I’m not about to adopt a family of apes.

Kitchen garden

So, they keep coming, and we keep stoning them. They have babies, husbands, families, but we still stone them. They are tired, hungry and desperate to stay alive, yet we stone them. They are frustrated to the point of aggression, but we continue to stone them.

We do this with the confidence that we will always be around to protect our families or have the means to protect them in our absence.

Our strategy is to subdue and exclude. That’s it. We have kitchen gardens and kitchen pantries that we must hoard at all costs, even when we have the option to share. Even when we have the opportunity to create a system where both man and beast can eat and stay alive.   

It sounds a lot like the global power structure that is replicated in many countries around the world; this one included. People are tired, hungry, angry and desperate to stay alive, but governments keep stoning them, pushing them to their limits and then pushing them again.

After months of sharing my compound with baboons, I am well aware that they are getting to a point where they will no longer approach with stealth; instead, they will attack in anger and frustration. They will no longer settle for stolen bounties or reluctant donations from hoarding humans. They will attempt to gain control of the food supply, and that can only mean war.

If it does come to that, may the stronger primate win. Until then, I’m appealing to the Kenya Wildlife Service to manage the baboon encroachment problem that is affecting neighbourhoods across the capital, particularly those that border forests. I’m also appealing to every other government authority to stop treating tax-paying Kenyan citizens like baboons.

There’s a heaven for a G

Christmas means different things to different people. Some people look at it from a Christ perspective, and others view it from a distinctly human perspective. The first group is trying to do what Jesus did, and the second is down for whatever.

Whichever way you want to think about it though, we can all agree that it has historically been a time of excess. Tis the season to supersize, to live life, and to live it more abundantly. Tis also the season for giving; the season to uplift and enrich the lives of those who are less privileged.

For some, the season of giving has been a year-long affair. Indeed, for the folks who’ve been on the receiving end of this generosity, 2018 has been a bumper year. Take the church for example.  If you take into account William Ruto’s donations alone, then the Lord’s storehouse is surely full to overflowing. And the Hustler-in-Chief should rightly expect a bounty in return, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

As a man who claims to subscribe to Christian ideals, he is well aware that the measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you. Time will tell exactly what measure the deputy president has been using on his 2018 cash-money tour. You never know, it might be the taxpayers of Kenya who will receive a bounty from God. Because they are the one’s who give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. It can be stated without even a whiff of equivocation that there are two things that the majority of Kenyan’s pay dutifully — tithes and taxes. So strictly speaking, all this money that’s being carted around in from one harambee to the other belongs to the public.

These institutions exist for the benefit of citizens and parishioners but both have failed spectacularly in their mandate, choosing instead to serve the interests of those who are closest to power.

That is to say that it is our money. We give it to the government, which then gives it to the church. And if there is a river that is swimming with crocodiles, it is the river between those two institutions.  Crocodiles that prey on the common man and then share the spoils in full view of cameras. These institutions exist for the benefit of citizens and parishioners but both have failed spectacularly in their mandate, choosing instead to serve the interests of those who are closest to power.

The Kenyan church has become like an abusive husband who refuses to be accountable to anyone but ‘God’, and the government like a bad boy who sends his girlfriend Mpesa from his wife’s account. And the people? The people don’t have the balls to kick them both to the curb.

Meanwhile, the media covers these bad relationships religiously, assuming the role of that innocent bystander who whips out his smartphone to record his neighbour punching a woman in the face, instead of coming to her defence.

And so the story goes, a tale that is told in perpetuity. We hear of change and rumours of change, but the wheels continue to turn, and the world continues to spin on its axis, just like it has done since Kenyans were first handed the responsibility to manage their own affairs. We fumble along from Christmas to Christmas, progressing and regressing like a drunk intern at the office party.

After all is said and done, you have to wonder come Easter time, how many thieves will ascend to heaven with the son of man. Will the hustler who brings his loot to the church have a better chance of squeezing through the needle’s eye than his adversary who (allegedly) spends his money in the bar? Because what matters more; how a man makes his money, or where he spends it? The answer should be obvious, but we are living in times when the state (and others in positions of leadership) would rather we “reject the evidence of [our] eyes and ears” because to do otherwise would be an inconvenience to those for whom the pursuit of power is the one true religion.

But hey, perhaps thoughts of heaven are misplaced in a country where too many things feel like hell on earth. Maybe we should let those who can literally afford to build castles in the sky do the heavy financial lifting. Maybe they can pay the way for those of us who don’t have the guts to offer God a bribe, and then to do it again, Sunday after Sunday, under the guise of doing the Lord’s work. Whatever the case, life will go on, the majority of Kenyans will continue to pay their tithes and taxes, and the minority donor community will continue with their philanthropy in the hopes that there’s a heaven for hustlers.

 

ILLUSTRATION | Jim Warren

 

 

Living in a black man’s head

Africa is the cradle of mankind. The beginning of all things. The continent that was once overrun by greatness; with kings, queens, and empires from Egypt, to Mali, Uganda, South Africa and every place in between. Africa was the envy of the world, a jewel coveted by monarchs, rulers, and sovereigns. Foreigners who ‘discovered’ the wealth hidden in Africa’s belly and decided to come and get it.

One would have thought that a continent blessed with an immense spirituality, military prowess, organised society, and productive lands would withstand the charge led by the resource-hungry invaders. That the force that is Africa would shield its people from theft and oppression. But the opposite was true. The kingdoms of Africa fell from Cairo to the Cape, fractured, ravaged, and dispersed by a colonising project that with precision and astuteness, found the cracks in Africa’s armour, shattering black unity, and scattering it with a whirlwind.

I often wonder about Africa’s fatal flaw. What was it about the continent, its people, and its leaders that allowed such a total and complete invasion and recalibration. Yes, I know that many of our ancestors didn’t go down without a fight, but after that, the whitewashing of African cultures and the complete colonisation of the African worldview was and is astounding. When the guard came down, it came down completely. And now it’s very hard to isolate the things that identify us as Africans, the things that our ancestors were holding in their hearts and minds when the explorer ships docked, and colonisers made their way into the hinterland.

I wonder about these things when it comes to women as well, and African women in particular.

I wonder about these things when it comes to women as well, and African women in particular. Yes, we can blame the patriarchy, like we do colonialism, and we wouldn’t be wrong. But there is room for introspection. What are the cracks in our armour? Why do so many women remain subject to the excesses of the patriarchal system decades after the rights movement began? This is not asked to shame women, rather to examine our circumstances with a view to breaking free of them.

In the midst of the current debate about female representation, and the two-thirds gender rule, I’ve had to think deeply about my own primary identity. I’m a black, Luyia, Kenyan, African, heterosexual, female; but which do I answer to first? Which of these hills am I ready to die on? If you’re asking me today? I would tell you that I am a black woman first and foremost, and every battle I choose to engage in will be coloured in broad, black, female strokes.

But these are difficult questions. So difficult but so necessary if Kenyan women are to make an imprint on the way our country is governed. We must ask ourselves what binds us together as a female collective. Are we sisters just because we bleed every month? And if so, does that sisterhood change its hue depending on how much money we make? Which tribe we come from? Which area we live in? The company we keep? Is the fact that we have uteruses enough to foster a common purpose? In my experience, it is not. They are too many other factors at play, too many fractures and fissions within the female universe. One huge factor is the proximal power that some women enjoy from their associations with men.

Thanks to our male-dominated societal construct, we live in a black man’s head. As he thinks, so we are. Therefore, the quickest and cleverest way to partake of privilege is to align with his agenda. If this were not the case, we would pursue privilege on our own terms, and for the benefit of our own kind.  See, there are 9.4 million female voters in this country. That’s 47 per cent of the electorate. With those numbers, achieving the two-thirds principle should not be as hard as it has proved to be. Women should routinely vote for other women. But they don’t. The majority vote for men and the skewed representation in our houses of Parliament is proof.

The truth is that it is in the interests of many women to uphold the man-heavy power structure because they are benefits. Some have argued that some of those benefits come by way of nominations to government, and to posts that would typically be elective. And why lie, there is truth to this.

Here’s the thing, though: we find ourselves here again, debating a gender bill that will probably flop for the umpteenth time. Rather than bludgeon this dying horse, an alternative might be to speak directly to those 9.4 million female voters and begin this gender-parity conversation outside of the confines of a legislature that has refused to honour the struggle.

 

ILLUSTRATION | www.thefancysuccess.com

 

 

‘Rafiki’ is making enemies of people everywhere

I’ve met Ezekiel Mutua a couple of times, and you know what? He’s far less annoying in person. He’s not the intolerant ogre that he seems to be. He just has a funny way with words. Even if he’s saying something you might agree with, nine out of ten times, his delivery will change your mind. Which is all very unfortunate because he’s often at the centre of very important conversations. The type of conversations that we all desperately need to have. Like the one about Rafiki.

From the get-go, Rafiki should have given Kenyans an opportunity – yet another one – to decide how to situate homosexuality in the culture. Instead, it turned into a court case. Which is another thing, when did we become such a litigious society? Who died and made the judiciary the sole and eternal arbiter? Some of the things we ask the courts to mediate and pronounce themselves on are outside their moral jurisdiction. After all, they can only provide legal solutions. I often wonder why we have given lawyers and judges so much room to arbitrate our norms and traditions. Wouldn’t a social contract be much effective? I digress.

About Rafiki. It has been said that what you resist, persists. So, for as long as you refuse to deal with your issues they will continue to rise to the surface. The universe has a way of throwing the same hard stuff at you until you figure it out. And yes, the lessons keep coming until you learn them. This, my friends, is why the ‘gay question’ continues to arise. Because rather than tackling it head-on, with the willingness to remain objective and open-hearted, the heteronormative Kenyan collective refuses to engage. It’s easier to say that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ and then to bury our heads in the sand.

Because rather than tackle it head on, with the willingness to remain objective and open-hearted, the heteronormative Kenyan collective refuses to engage.

And if it’s not un-African, then it’s un-Christian, which is strange because ‘African-ness’ in its purest form, has very little in common with Christianity. So being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, non-binary, questioning, or whatever else can only be one or the other. For the most part.

The truth is that many ancient cultures, including those in Africa, acknowledged both the masculine and the feminine as divine energies that were not necessarily restricted to either the male or the female form. They recognized that there would always be a percentage of people – typically a very small percentage – that would embrace the fluidity of those energies. After all, every child is born of a man, and a ‘womb-an’, and therefore every child is somewhere on the spectrum between male and female.

Some cultures still believe that at both ends of this spectrum, there are gatekeepers, people who exist on the fringes of the traditional male/female dichotomy. In those cultures, these people typically embrace a form of sexuality that is other than the norm. And because of that ‘otherness’, they have a unique perspective, and an innate ability to apply unique solutions to everyday problems.

So, what we now call the LGBTQ community, has been around for as long as everybody else has. But for various reasons across the ages, the levels of tolerance for their existence have either risen or fallen. For instance, in post-war periods, when repopulation becomes a priority, focus typically shifts from sexual actualisation to baby-making, which is a natural function of heterosexual unions. That said, perhaps the most abiding reason for the discrimination against homosexuality – and gay men in particular – is the fear that being around them can ‘turn you gay’. It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that if you turn gay from contact with a gay person, then you were gay, to begin with.

There is also the fear, particularly in the Kenyan context, that we are reaching a point of gay saturation, that there are too many gay people running around, and that that is somehow a threat to our nationhood. Look, even in America, where being homosexual has been accepted more and more over the years, the percentage of folks who identify as LGBTQ is less than 10 per cent. There is no chance of a gay takeover, not in the near future.

What we all need to do is live, and let live. How people express their humanity shouldn’t be such a great concern, especially if that expression does not infringe on your rights. The amount of time that is spent judging other people for their lifestyles could be better spent thinking about things that affect all of us as Kenyans. Like taxes.

 

ILLUSTRATION | www.pixabay.com

Why attitudes towards sexual violence in Kenya need a major refresh

It’s estimated that 14% of Kenyan women and 6% of men aged 15-49 have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. In Kenya women and girls experience sexual violence more than men and boys.

In my research I looked at sexual violence against minors in Kenya. Most Kenyan adolescent girls are in fact perceived as women. The aim of my study was to explore how communities view sexual assault and how those perceptions contribute to the vulnerability of minors to sexual abuse.

In many parts of Kenya, as in so many patriarchal societies, men and women are raised differently. This upbringing creates imbalances in the power relations between them. Most young men are socialised to be sexually adventurous and aggressive as a way to prove their masculinity. Girls are expected to be chaste, domesticated and compliant. Women and girls who deviate from these designated roles risk disapproval from community members as well as physical and sexual violence.

These attitudes are particularly marked when it comes to the issue of rape. Myths, and false beliefs – misconceptions resulting from incorrect reasoning – about rape, rape victims, and rapists are rife in Kenya. For example, half of the population will blame a rape victim under any circumstance.

The common myths include: that rape is committed by a deviant and/or a stranger, that it is not that serious, that the man was provoked by the sexiness of the female, women mean yes when they say no, women are liars, and a man is entitled to the sex through marriage or purchase of gifts.

These attitudes place the blame on the victims, and don’t hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. And the victim’s credibility is questioned.

Survivors of rape in Kenya face numerous challenges. These include not being believed by service providers, being blamed for rape because of what they were wearing, and being drunk. They also experience delays at health facilities, police stations, and courts.

A change in the country’s laws would help alleviate the problem. But for that to happen more women would need to be elected to Parliament and to county assemblies. Another intervention that would help girls, in particular, would be proper education on sex, violence and rights at school.

Misconceptions perpetuated by media

In early June 2018, a 15-year-old schoolgirl at Moi Girls High School in Nairobi was sexually assaulted.. She didn’t receive emergency assistance. When she was eventually taken to a health centre, it was reported that no evidence of rape was found. The parents insisted on a second opinion and sent her to a credible public health facility for further tests which determined that she had been sexually assaulted.

The first move from Kenya’s Union of Post Primary Education Teachers was to protect union members who’d been accused of the rape. They called for “fairness” to be applied to the process.

A month later the union released a statement stating that the girl had been raped by her schoolmates, and not by any of the teachers. The union had no authority to comment publicly on a matter that was under investigation. The Standard newspaper carried the union’s allegations on its front page under the headline: ‘Teachers: Moi Girls rape was all fiction.’

The day the story was published there were calls on social media for action to be taken against the girl for spreading falsehoods.

The incident shows that there’s a need for media training when it comes to reporting rape. Callous reporting causes survivors to be victimised further.

Health and legal responses

Survivors may arrive at a health facility or police station in the morning, only to be served in the evening or the next day. This happens despite health care providers and police officers knowing that medical evidence to support rape allegations can only be obtained within the first 72 hours.

The longer the survivor waits, the less likely it is to find sound medical evidence (evidence of penetration includes presence of semen, pubic hairs, foreign fibres, blood, bite marks etc) of rape.

Health care providers and law enforcement officers also lack the training to conduct proper investigations. And corruption is a huge barrier to survivors accessing these services. Many survivors are asked to pay for post-rape medical services.

Others are asked to pay the police for them to do their jobs. The law stipulates that both these services should be offered free of charge.

What needs to be done?

Given the patriarchal nature of Kenyan society, men in the country define what is accepted as sexual violence.

An example of this is that marital rape is not criminalised in Kenya. This came about because male legislators – who were in the majority – blocked the inclusion of a clause on marital rape when the country’s first Sexual Offences Bill was tabled in 2006. They argued that married women could not withdraw consent for sex. These views are still held today.

The first order of business in the war against sexual violence in Kenya would be to elect more women to Parliament and to the county assemblies. More women legislators would ensure more progressive laws.

Secondly, the legislation and implementation of comprehensive sexuality education in Kenyan schools is imperative. This has still not been fully embraced because of the conservative leaning of Kenyan society. Sexuality education is important to teach young people about gender equality. It also dispels rape myth attitudes by informing society about the ramifications of sexual violence, and the need for post rape care.

Third, survivors of sexual violence need to be believed and not condemned. This is the only way to encourage victims to report incidents of sexual violence.

Fourth, health providers and law enforcement officers must be trained to conduct rigorous investigations so that prosecutions can be successful.

And finally, the law should enforce stiffer penalties for service providers who frustrate rape survivors.

 

By Cynthia Wangamati, Doctoral Research Fellow, Medicine & Global Health, University of Oslo

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Just go with your gut

I was running late. If I didn’t leave by 10.30am, I was going to be behind schedule. At 10.28, just in the nick of time, I started the car. Two minutes later, I hit the accelerator. As I turned towards the gate, I came face-to-face with a truck in the middle of the driveway. A mother and child sat idly in the cabin. At the back, some guys were loading furniture. Someone was moving houses. Shucks, what were the odds?
I got out of the car and marched towards the cabin where the woman was now fiddling with the stereo. The child had his thumb in his mouth.
“I need to get out,” I spat.
Her head snapped up as if she hadn’t been aware I was standing there. Eye-roll.
“Uhm, they should be done soon,” she said.
Her arms were now holding the child tightly, as if to protect him.
“How long?” I asked.
At this point, my hands were on my hips, and there was no hint of patience in my stance.
“Uhm, two to three minutes …?”
“Are you asking or telling me?” I growled.
“Uhm, yah …may be three minutes.”
The child was now staring at me with eyes as wide as my childbearing hips. His mother’s eyes were also filled with apprehension. Looking at both of them, you would have thought I had the sign of the beast on my forehead. For a moment, I considered rubbing my hands together and belting out an evil laugh, but I was late. No time for theatrics. Seeing as these two weren’t going to help me, I moved on to the loaders at the back.
“Dakika ngapi mpaka mumalize?” I asked, in a comical translation of, ‘how long are you going to take?’
“Saa hii tu, mathe,” one of them said, before going back up the stairs.
Now my blood was simmering. Boiling point was not too far away. I could feel the flames on my face. With one huge breath, I filled my cheeks with enough air to float. Then I walked back to the car, got into the driver’s seat and slammed the door. It was 10.45.
I have to get passed this truck, I thought to myself, squeezing my temples with both index fingers. Can’t be that hard. There was a bit of space between the truck and the periphery wall which had initially seemed impossible to navigate. Now it was looking like the highway to heaven. So I got out of the car again and shouted to the watchman:
“Soldier, ebu kuja unisaidie kupita hii gari,” I yelled.
A few seconds later, he emerged from the gatehouse, whistling a tune, and seeming like the very embodiment of nonchalance.
“Sawa,” he said, one hand already beckoning for me to come forward.
I got back in the car and stepped gingerly on the accelerator, turning my wheels further towards the wall so as to avoid the huge bumper on the offending truck.
“Okay, kuja …kuja,” he said, his hand flapping back and forth like a traffic cop on steroids.
I inched forward, my eyes darting from the wall to the truck, trying to avoid contact with both.
“Wee, soldier, sita gusa?” I yelled.
“Hapana, madam. Wewe kuja tu… kuja.”
So I kept going, peering over the steering like a marabou stork. I managed to avoid scraping the wall but then I looked through the rear view mirror and realised that there was less than a centimetre between my back door and the front end of the truck. Reflexively, I jumped on the breaks stopping the car with a jolt.
“Wee, soldier, sita gusa? I asked again.
“Kuja tu, madam. Uko sawa kabisa,” he said.
I don’t know what makes drivers trust the direction of over-confident watchmen but whatever it is, it got me again. I turned my wheels away from the wall and moved forward. The next thing I heard was that familiar sound of metal grinding on metal. I closed my eyes and took yet another deep breath.
“Nimegusa?” I asked, in a low tone, hopeful for a miracle.
“Wueh. Haki umegusa, madam.”
My head dropped onto the steering wheel in complete frustration. When I looked up, the ‘soldier’ was standing there chewing on a toothpick, without a care in the world. Mother and child were still in the cabin, as idle as they ever were. And it was 11.00 am. Now, I was late for sure.
The moral of this story? Carry your own cross. Don’t follow the lead of folks who have nothing to lose should things go wrong.
ILLUSTRATION | FREEPIC

Mo’ money, mo’ problems

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the Turkish presidential elections, extending his 16-year stretch in power by five more years. The president gave a gushing acceptance speech even before all the votes were counted.

“The message is clear,” he said.  “With turnout of nearly 90 per cent, Turkey has taught the whole world a democracy lesson.”

At the time, Turkish media was reporting he had garnered 53.7 per cent of votes counted, with the main opposition candidate at 31 per cent.

The Turkish opposition conceded defeat but maintained that the elections were unjust and unfair. Their assessment of the electoral process is of little consequence to Erdogan, a president who will now acquire sweeping new powers including the ability to unilaterally appoint his cabinet, install senior judges, and make presidential decrees with the full force of the law.

If the Turks thought he was an autocrat before, now they will know for sure. I can’t help but think back to David Murathe’s comments ahead of Kenya’s 2017 elections when he urged Kenyans to brace themselves for a lethal, brutal, and ruthless presidency in Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term. So far, we’ve been treated to Uhuru’s characteristic tough-talk, but not much action. What we have seen is the opening of Pandora’s Box and the outpouring of graft and rumours of graft, the response to which has been predictably skewed in favour of those with high-grade political connections.

After the release of all the current NYS suspects (on bail), and lukewarm attempts to scrutinise government procurement processes, we’re now onto the lifestyle audit song and dance. There has been weeping and gnashing of teeth from a section of our leadership at the mere thought of their wealth being subjected to public scrutiny. Understandably so, because if the truth and nothing but the truth was to come to light, then there would certainly be hell to pay. It is no secret that many of our elected representatives are living well beyond their means, lavish though those means may be.

And you know who else are living lavishly? The drug cartels in Mexico. Mexico goes into an election on July 1. The polls come at a time when the country is reeling from years of increasing gang violence, a situation that has been exacerbated by institutionalised corruption in government circles. The cartels are right at the heart of Mexico’s power structure such that whoever ‘wins’ the election will only survive politically if they make a deal.

Parallels can be drawn between Mexico’s mafia-style system of government, and the inability of successive Kenyan presidents to deal decisively with the cabal that has made it a business to divert public resources.

Ultimately, both styles of leadership imply a degree of complicity with non-state actors who can pull the strings because they hold the purse.

It’s not for nothing that money is defined as the root of all evil. There are few things on earth with the same motivating factor as great wealth, and the privilege that comes with it. Think about the trans-Atlantic slave trade for instance. Slave traders and owners in the Americas created a false narrative that demanded unquestioned servitude from black Africans based on a racial inferiority that they claimed was biblical. They did this because they wanted free labour to work their cotton fields.

At the height of slavery, the international cotton trade was the mainstay of the world economy. Without slave labour, profits on both sides of the Atlantic would plummet. This is why there was such opposition to the abolition of slavery. It all came down to dollars and cents. American slave owners dehumanised four generations of enslaved Africans to such a great extent that the effects are still being felt today. They didn’t do it because they held a genuine belief that black people were children of a lesser god, but because free labour was profitable. They did it for money.

The allure of money cannot be understated, nor can the trappings of power that come along with it. So when we bow and scrape before our leaders as if they were God’s own representatives on earth, what we’re really doing is worshipping money. In Kenya especially, money is the truest symbol of power, no matter how it is acquired. This is why corruption suspects can occupy high elective positions without even the slightest hint of shame. This is also why the war on graft will continue to fail. It is impossible to serve two masters. Which is why we must reassess our priority as a nation? It is money or good governance? If indeed, a leader without money is no leader at all, we may as well call time on the corruption struggle.

 

IMAGE | ALAMY STOCK PHOTO/Daily Mail