Who do we look up to?

May 4, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

About 10 years ago, I found myself sharing a table with a reserved Egyptian lady in her late 40′s named Amal and her husband during a company potluck. Amal and I had been working at the same facility for over a year, yet we hardly ever exchanged words.On this day however, I had managed to start up a conversation with the pair on African affairs and in particular, about leadership. Though guarded at first, her husband who had been a Civil engineer in Egypt and now worked some odd jobs to make ends meet in minneapolis,  began to share a few of his experiences.

President Anwar Al Sadat

Having graduated from college during the days of Sadat’s presidency with much hope for his country, he explained that it didn’t take too long for him to land a civil engineering job with a government agency.
What he had not anticipated, was that he was being ushered into a fraternity of a corrupt good old boy system ran by the military elite. A world where contracts were given not by merit, but only via the intervention of military officials who received kick backs. Failure to do so, spelled the death knell of any local company or multi-national.

Who is in-charge

He quickly came to learn the that the military was in charge and that it was often very incompetent and corrupt.

In the eyes of the common Egyptian however, an Army Officer was more valuable as a friend than an Engineer or even a Doctor. The people respected and revered the officers and the profession had become among the most sought after.

Amil was quick to add that they were not just respected, but beloved. She found it disturbing that they were ‘loved’ simply because they were the power brokers of the society.
She remembered as a youth, that she too had been a great fan of the officers – despite the known fact of their corruption and heavy handedness toward the commoner. In Egypt’s class structure, they were at the very top and took great advantage of this structure.

At that time, what was frustrating to the couple, was the fact that nothing had changed and she could not understand why the people were so blind. She wondered why they were soo ‘stuck’.

Morbid fascination

Today, we see an Egyptian people who have finally snapped! We all know that story.But what still pains me today, is that in Kenya we have been in the same situation since the birth of our Republic.

What frustrates me, is seeing how much we love our politicians. They are our celebrities who dominate our conversations in our homes, airwaves and the print media. We are obsessed with them.. and not just the relevant Kenyan politician, but also the second rate politicians and so called activists.

And even when we can master to dislike or even hate them, we are still fixated on them. A morbid fascination.

The Kenyan political class has now become a safe haven for the corrupt. Our government has shifted from an Autocracy, to a unholy union of tribal  Kleptocracy that is intent on protecting each other. Yet we look up to them. We crown them as tribal chiefs and donate to their campaigns. We fight over them and kill at their command, all while they are stealing from us and sell drugs to our youth.

This is nothing new to us. There is not a single Kenyan who believes that the Ocampo six are innocent.

It is not a secret in Nairobi that the likes of Harun Mwau, Mike Sonko, William Kabogo and others are known drug barons. And then there are the whispers that the President’s concubine, who styles herself as a PNU Activist is also a drug baron.

That is not far fetched, seeing as her daughter was betrothed to one of the Artur brothers, who were dubbed Ukrainian Mercenaries and were no doubt hired thugs.

They are crooks

My favorite photo journalist and friend, Boniface Mwangi once tweeted, ‘Its the truth “Thief number one is President Kibaki & his cabinet of drug dealers,murderer’s” we know the crooks!’ and I tend to agree. So, are these the folks you look up to?

About King'ori
Sillicon Valley Techie / Community Organizer / Activist. I dream of a day when the East African Federation shall become a reality!


2 Responses to “Who do we look up to?”
  1. Alex says:


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