By: MAGESHA NGWIRI
The great African-American spiritual titled Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child was, like most other spirituals, a cry of agony articulating deep despondency, disorientation and bewilderment.
During the days of slavery in the 1800s, some slave-owners would separate the child from the mother and sell it off.
One can imagine how the child felt every morning when he or she woke up and was herded to the cotton plantation.
Today, many Kenyans would be forgiven for singing the song as though they meant it, for they feel betrayed.
Every morning in the past two weeks or so, we have been waking up to newspaper reports about theft or misappropriation of mind-boggling figures in almost every institution.
And every evening, we have been going to sleep with broadcast reports ringing in our ears to the effect that the country’s future is being mortgaged through massive loans procured and then mishandled by the government. It is as if nothing good ever happens in this country any more.
The effect of all this is that the country seems to be in a perpetual crisis, and therefore pessimism has been creeping up on us, a mood that is not only ugly, but also counter-productive.
In short, this nation is in the grip of a deep malaise characterised by a sense of drift and anomie.
At an individual level, the situation seems to be like this. You have strived to bring up your child in an upright manner.
PASSING THE BUCK
You have given him all the parental support necessary, fed him well, clothed him decently, taken him to school, and shown him the tough love needed to ensure that upon maturation, he will survive and thrive on his own.
But then, just before this happens, he turns into a lush, libertine, vagabond, or thief. As a parent, what do you do next?
This is what many who have always supported the Jubilee government through thick and thin are beginning to feel, and it is not healthy.
They are beginning to feel cheated and disillusioned.
They are starting to think that everything the opposition has been saying all along could be right.
When and how did we get to a situation where a ball-point pen can cost Sh8,700 and a condom dispenser Sh25,000?
Since when did a photocopier cost Sh1.38 million or a paper shredder Sh64,750?
At least the scheming procurers and tenderpreneurs should have had the foresight to use the shredder at once on the incriminating documents before the public caught on!
This whole issue is too complex for ordinary folk to fully comprehend and the fact that nobody is willing to take responsibility does not help.
Instead, those who should be held to account for the venality are busy passing the buck to their juniors.
This is so even when it is clear that nobody is any longer interested in merely nibbling at the national cake; they want to gobble it all up, ravenously.
Curiously, even during the dark Moi era when robbers “ate” everything – fruit, seed, stem and root – the embezzlement frenzy did not seem to have quite reached these dizzying heights.
Could it be that the magnitude was just as high but nobody dared talk about it lest they lost their liberty or worse?
This is not an attempt to justify modern-day corruption, but isn’t it possible that the new-found freedoms — brought about by the 2010 Constitution — have made whistleblowers a lot more courageous in exposing the vice?
Isn’t this probably why grand theft by civil servants seems to be more outrageous today than it was then? This is food for thought.
In the meantime, the Jubilee coalition should realise that its survival will only depend on what action it takes to fight graft.
To do this, a number of sacrifices have to be made, hard decisions taken, however painful they may be, to restore confidence among its children who feel like they have been orphaned and sold down the river by the administration.
As for the opposition, they have no reason to preach and gloat.
The avarice among some governors affiliated to it is no better than that uncovered in the Devolution ministry.
The gluttony in which some of its members fed on the trough when they were in government is a clear indicator of what may happen should it ascend to power.
There are very few angels in this game.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION