Kenya back to the jungle that foreign tourists believe it is

George Magoha

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha follows proceedings during the 12th Annual Regional Educational and Leadership Conference for Wings to Fly and Elimu Scholarship Beneficiaries on April 14, 2022 at Pangani Girls High School. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • We have been left to our own devises, and only the fittest are going to survive going forward.
  • Poverty in this country is by government design; it’s well-planned and even budgeted for.

The Form One selection results are out. Parents who believe in God have been calling their spiritual advisers to check whether prayers still work, because few children have been called to the secondary schools they selected and the devil has refused to admit responsibility.

Those who were raised not to question God’s will already accepted their fate and have been seen shopping for Google Maps enabled phones, as they dust their coughing shoes in readiness for the long trek to schools in rural outposts who have night runners as part-time guards.

You fight with the 4am alarm clock every day for eight years in order to make it in time for the hooting school bus downstairs, and when God finally answers the prayers you made while half asleep, someone at the Ministry of Education conspires to send you to a boot camp somewhere in the Kenyan jungle in the name of grooming you to be a good ambassador for Magical Kenya.

If parents knew their children would be punished for soaking their feet to stay awake, they wouldn’t have paid for extra tuition and, certainly, wouldn’t have pointed their children with sticks for sleeping like the babies they are.

There’s no one in this country who’s currently not feeling tortured. If you aren’t elbowing your way at a school canteen for the midmorning quarter loaf, your heels are getting grazed at a nearby mobile telephone booth. These days you can’t even tap someone’s shoulder at the petrol station, lest your throat get punched for attempting to jump the queue.

We blame the devil for a lot of things, but the events of the past week have taught us that this country is back to the jungle foreign tourists believe it is. We have been left to our own devises, and only the fittest are going to survive going forward.

This is why we should laud any attempt to equalise the ground for those going into Form One.

Prestigious national school

We might be equal before the Lord, but on the ground things are starkly different. We can blame poor parents for not planning for child rearing, but if you’ve lived in this country long enough, wisdom will teach you that poverty is one of the things made from the hands of men.

There are a lot of kids who wrote their KCPE 2021 while standing from bullet fire, they certainly don’t know what it means to be born with one’s noses in front. The poor aren’t poor because they like to be poor. Poverty in this country is by government design; it’s well-planned and even budgeted for.

In Kenya, not many years ago, if the President liked your nose he would ask the minister in charge of money to allocate funds to build you a mirror in your house while those who gave him trouble would see development only on television.

What that has done to this country is that there are people who grew up in areas of political privilege and, through that, got to sing nursery rhymes in crèche units that had power on the national grid and marathon running water that could compete with Kipchoge.

Everyone in this country aspires to be rich – many by hook, most by crook. We badmouth our coworkers for job promotions, visit witchdoctors at ungodly hours with posters of our political competitors to be doused in alligator urine, and pray for our neighbors’ children to break their necks at the bouncing castle.

Our humanity may be numb but let’s not be unhappy when the innocent child of a struggling construction worker - who eats ballast for breakfast and ducks falling objects for a living - is called to a prestigious national school in the equalisation programme at the Ministry of Education.

Mr Oguda comments on topical issues; [email protected]