What you need to know:
- As we think about Covid millionaires, let us not forget that the most disenfranchised group during this pandemic is the young people.
- Kenyan youth are watching while billions’ worth of personal PPE donations are diverted to other countries to profit a few among us.
In the 2018 movie Equaliser 2 starring my favourite movie star in the whole world Denzel Washington as Robert McCall — a former DIA officer turned self-appointed “equaliser,”who delivers justice to the less fortunate — McCall speaks one line that has stuck with me: “There are two kinds of pain in this world: The pain that hurts, the pain that alters.”
Covid-19 is a double-edged sword. It is not only the great equaliser that affects kings and paupers but also exposes the greatest inequalities in our society. For example, while on the one hand, millions of Kenyans are barely making a living, there is a secret cabal so far identified only by the code name #Covid19Millionaires who are laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to Covid-19 tenders and the kindness of benevolent billionaires.
Huge sums of cash
In this difficult time, when personal protective equipment are on high demand, when governments and international agencies are releasing huge sums of cash coupled with the urgency of the matter that gives a little wiggle room for procurement laws, the #Covid19Millionaires have been given a licence to mint money.
As if job losses, salary cuts and meagre wages are not enough to deal with, we have to live with the bitter reality that not even a pandemic can stop the corruption cartels. If they can do this to us during a pandemic, what else are they capable of?
But, as we think about Covid millionaires, let us not forget that the most disenfranchised group during this pandemic is the young people. Kenya is a youthful country.
The median age is estimated at 19 years, and studies have shown that about 80 per cent of the population is under 35. But the greatest inequality that this pandemic has revealed is the disconnect between the society and its youth.
On top of being asked to “create their own jobs” Kenya’s youth now know for sure what they have long suspected – that even during a pandemic they are largely on their own. As the pandemic rages on and the uncertainty builds, they are getting increasingly tired of the hypocrisy of those who vowed to protect their interests.
Kenyan youth are watching while billions’ worth of personal PPE donations are diverted to other countries to profit a few among us.
They are watching — with a lot of bitterness — as the government tells them to stay home, wear masks and avoid public places, as senior government officials breach every Covid-19 protocol in the book to hold political meetings.
As the authorities tell young people to stay away from crime and petty offenders get severely punished, they are watching the double standards with which the authorities are treating the Covid millionaires.
I hope, for the Kenyan youth, that the pain experienced during this Covid-19 period will not only be the pain that hurts, but also the pain that alters their decisions.