It is 8.30pm on a Wednesday as I write this. There’s a blackout where I live. For the last two months or so, the power has been going off every day, each time staying off for hours. We once stayed without electricity for two days in spite of reporting the incident to Kenya Power.
Staying in the dark has started to become a way of life for us and our neighbours, part of our daily grind, such that we have become indifferent to these power outages. If we have electricity, fine, if we don’t, fine. I say this because just a few days ago, while in darkness as usual, the lights flickered back on. The electricity had been off for most of the day, and had returned for a few hours towards evening and then went off again at around 7.30pm, only to make a comeback a few minutes to 9pm.
We were all headed to bed, which was much earlier than we normally sleep, but I have realised that darkness has a way of subduing any vigour, any enthusiasm you may have. Anyway, you would expect excitement and jubilation that the electricity had done us such an honour, but no, no one was impressed— my nine-year-old daughter made a face and said: “These lights think they have made us happy?” and then proceeded to bed. We all did, because from experience, we knew that the electricity might go off again just as we were beginning to get comfortable. In short, we have resigned ourselves to the fate of using candles to light our home for the rest of our lives.
Thinking of this situation I find myself in, it occurs to me that as a country, we are so used to being served and serving mediocrity, such that even when our rights are trampled on, we simply mumble amongst ourselves for a while and then, as we like to say, accept and move on.
The more determined ones take to the streets with placards and shout, “Haki yetu!” hoping that the powers that be will hear and listen to their cry for help, and while this sometimes works, most of the time these desperate cries go unheard, and in some cases, the chants are silenced with teargas.
In this country, rarely is anyone held accountable for abusing the trust bestowed on their office — to mind comes the many bigwigs that held public office who have been accused of corruption and other ills yet remain free as birds, still unabashedly partaking of their ill-gotten wealth.
Rarely are those charged with the mandate to safeguard our rights and offer us various services held accountable for failing to deliver, yet we, the taxpayers, are expected to pay their salary every month.
During these many weeks we have had to do without electricity for hours every day, it should have occurred to someone that there is a big problem with the connectivity in this area since we report power outage daily, but since, from experience, this individual, or individuals know that they will not be held accountable for their inefficiency, this problem will persist.
We Kenyans have become so used to getting the short end of the stick, we have grown accustomed to stomaching every injustice that comes our way and accepting it as normal — poor services in our hospitals, lacklustre services in both private and public offices, being expected to bribe to get services that we are paying for and which we deserve by the simple fact that we’re citizens of Kenya, dangerous driving, rude touts and matatu drivers, dishonest, corrupt, self-centred and uninspiring politicians…the list could go on. For how long are we willing to stomach the unethicality we keep serving and getting served?