Why this is the year to embrace the joy of being a mediocre Kenyan

There is a casualness we have as a country that has seeped into our very fibre of being

What you need to know:

There is a casualness we have as a country that has seeped into our very fibre of being viz. our values, our relationships, and ourselves

My country people, I don’t know who said it, probably it was Plato or my boda boda guy, but it’s true—ukipewa perform, because why lie! we have a performance problem in this Ruto’s Kenya. We have mastered the art of putting up a show, a performance rather than actually executing. This town is very tedious. I really don’t know whether what we say and what we want to say are actually the same thing. We have mastered the art (science?) of speaking from both sides of the mouth—we are so vague in our communication that precision is like post-nut clarity: once you’ve satisfied your sexual urges, you suddenly wonder: ‘What am I doing in Rongai at 3am and I live in Mlolongo?’  

Recently I came to the realisation that maybe we should embrace mediocrity. Our mediocrity. I think it is ethically if not professionally imperative upon me as a columnist to throw enough mud at the wall of why most of us men have just decided to sit on the fence when it comes to the way this country is heading (if it’s heading anywhere at all). Personally, I stand, where I sit, on the fence. Sitting on said high fence, at the very least, gives one a view that is panoramic, even if a little detached, if not escapist.

Without burning bridges (shout out to the government), I am yet to get my new driving license (despite women on social media claiming I am driving them crazy). Weak joke aside, I boarded this matatu two days ago—because I don’t have a driving licence or a car—when the conductor started collecting fares without handing out the balance. I sympathised with him. It is the end month and people are walking around with big notes. One lady at the back—it only takes one—started shouting, saying “Conductors these days ni wezi tu!” While I empathised with the conductor, I too joined in, because we all know this is a bad habit with matatu conductors. Down with mediocrity!

Worse than male conductors are female secretaries who chew gum and have these badly drawn eye pencil eyebrows with that look—the look of a woman who forgot to switch off the gas stove and now is having a reverse Damascene conversion, turning from Paul to Saul. If you want to learn the newest insults in town, agitate these creatures. The tongue-lashing you will receive there is enough to make a grown man cry. But we take it. Because that’s the way things just are. Aii. Not me. Not anymore. I am going down with a scalp. I am done turning the other cheek. I am out of cheeks. 

Look, Kenya is moving like a desperate 20-something-year-old out to catch the eye of a passing sugar daddy. There is a casualness we have as a country that has seeped into our very fibre of being viz. our values, our relationships, and ourselves. We are living in a political system that can only be dubbed as a ‘mediocracy’, which is a government of the mediocre, by the mediocre, and for the mediocre. I heard someone say that passports are not getting printed. All I could do was chuckle and retweet while feigning fake nationalism. Who doesn’t know that passports are getting printed…if you have the right amount of chums to grease someone who knows someone? If not then you need to know a tall relative, otherwise the only passport you will get is the one you take during a shower and with this Nairobi cold, even that one isn’t too assured.

Dot connectors and beautiful minds will use the Wueh! as a conceptual crutch to explain great national traumas. Why are we like this? Hii ni Kenya, Wueh! Why are we so mediocre? Wueh! You get the picture.  

The role of the artist, wrote author James Baldwin, is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. I urge my fellow brothers to do better. To be better. We need to feng shui this country.

Final story: I am in a certain club. Everyone is singing and dancing to ‘mbere ya kerende’ as if they know something I don’t. Girls with miniskirts shorter than their age, and boys with pants sagging from their bum revealing underwear that could do with a wash. This is what we call ‘drip’. Piercings everywhere. Nose, neck, lips, navel, pelvis…I’d go further down but this is a self-respecting newspaper. Lust hangs in the air like a badly shot selfie. We are drinking mzingas like water; our fathers taught us well. We are here for the soft life, a taste of the national cake of the raw pleasures hidden in joints such as these. We are celebrating our failures, the delayed opportunities, the mjengo jobs, the funeral of youth participation in nation-building, and the insults. The insults!  

We do this every weekend when we have paid taxes to Caesar. We then get on Twitter and wage wars asking for a better Kenya. We know we have failed. This is our mediocrity. Passed on from generation to generation, one bottle at a time. You can try giving the benefit of the doubt but you will soon realise why the doubt was there in the first place.

It reminds me of something that burned itself in my mind when I first read Hama Tuma’s ‘The Case of The Prison-Monger. “Great Expectations make frustrated men. Our parents, being realists, teach us from the outset not to yearn for big things—when you stretch up to reach higher things you drop what you had under your arms. Moral of the saying? Hold on to what you have and be satisfied. The more you want, the more chance you will lose what little you already have.”

Here's the thing: Pray to God but don’t expect miracles. Watch your health, but you may die soon. Pay your taxes but it may not be enough. The less you expect, the less you get frustrated, and the greater your happiness if you get more. (Kenyan men are generally faithful, a friend counselled, the problem is the weekends.)

Welcome, brother, to the New Old Kenyan Experience (NOKE). Here, we defy common sense. That’s why Kenyans on Twitter (Kenyans on X?) can take on anyone (and take anyone down) in the world—wueh! It’s how we channel the pain of mediocracy. Methinks, it’s time to embrace the mediocre. It’s what we do best.