What you need to know:
- This person’s purse strings loosen up quickly and willingly for others, but stay tightly knotted if it is his family in need.
- Another bunch that comes to mind is the people we elect to champion our welfare every five years.
Going through feedback from readers reacting to what I wrote about last Sunday regarding the special treatment we give visitors at the expense of our families, it occurred to me that our mothers, and we that were raised by them, are not the only ones guilty of this contradiction, this hypocrisy.
Ever heard the appalling stories of men and women who are close-fisted, mean and abusive towards their spouses and children yet are extremely generous, caring and considerate of their friends, colleagues and others that they socialise with away from their homes? People who are as different as night and day when behind the closed doors of their homes and when out there, in the world mingling with others?
I am talking about the kind of person that is known to be so ‘philanthropic’, he often buys his friends and colleagues unsolicited lunches and drinks, the kind that walks into a bar and orders the waiter to “chafua meza”, (forgive my ignorance if this phrase is outdated), buying even strangers alcohol yet when he left home that morning, he left his long-suffering wife and children with no food, something that he does often.
Or maybe he hasn’t paid school fees and his children are on the verge of being kicked out of school. This person’s purse strings loosen up quickly and willingly for others, but stay tightly knotted if it is his family in need. This person responds with haste when a friend has an emergency, but when his family is in dire need, he is slow to act and does not bother to hide his reluctance and makes it clear that he has been greatly inconvenienced.
The leaders we elect
Another bunch that comes to mind is the people we elect to champion our welfare every five years. Remember ‘Kidero’s grass’? The year was 2015, and then US President Barrack Obama was to visit Kenya. In preparation for this high-profile visit, the then Nairobi City County governor, Evans Kidero, embarked on a massive beautification exercise of the city, an exercise that was reported to have cost the county over 40 million shillings. The project included landscaping and planting of grass along Mombasa Road, only that the grass was planted a few days to the arrival of Obama, therefore there was no way it was going to grow in time to impress the visiting dignitary.
This triggered long-running ridicule from Kenyans who mercilessly made fun of Kidero and his grass on social media, and accused him of misuse of funds. Besides the grass, the county also raced to improve street lighting and installed more CCTV cameras. But taxpayers, though outraged at this thoughtless spending, were not surprised – the fact is that we’re used to our ‘leaders’ springing into action and actually doing what they are paid to do only when they want to please a bigwig and when they anticipate scrutiny from those who wield more power that they do.
Think of all the rural roads that are hurriedly tarmacked to hide crater-like potholes that have existed for years when a VIP, say an MP, dies, a burial that may attract the president or vice-president and a host of other important people. Once the burial is over, the road, once again, falls into disrepair, awaiting the death of another important person to be patched up. The common mwananchi who uses this road everyday does not count.
The fact is that we deserve beautiful highways, functional and well-lit roads, we deserve CCTV cameras in every corner of this country to deter crime, and it shouldn’t take a visiting president or the death of a VIP to get what should be rightfully ours.
The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation; [email protected]