State of the Nation – President Uhuru’s parallel universe

Clap! Clap! Clap! Slowly….very slowly!

I must hand it to President Uhuru Kenyatta. The years spent at Amherst did help him. The delivery of the State of the Nation speech was polished and flowery.

The speech was also hypocritical and so removed from the reality of the last four years given the facts on ground that Mr. Kenyatta needed a drink midway through his delivery.

On a side note: Just because someone’s name appears on the program of a college’s graduation ceremony does not mean they received their degree. It simply means that they filed paperwork to walk or participate in the ceremony — for a host of reasons. The student still needs to go through a degree checklist – successfully – AND settle any outstanding debts. Only then will the institution (at least in most countries) confer a degree to the student. Given Kenya’s reputation as a “degree mill”, I can see why some, including ‘journalists’ accepted a scanned copy of a commencement program as evidence that UK “graduated” from UM-Amherst.

Back to the State of the Nation address. Two words:

PARALLEL UNIVERSE.
In 2013 when the digital duo was traversing the country attending “prayer rallies”, they offered Kenyans a campaign platform titled “Harmonized Coalition Manifesto – Transforming Kenya: Securing Kenya’s Prosperity 2013-2017”.

Incidentally, attempts to provide a link to the document garnered the following message:
” This site can’t be reached; file’s server DNS address could not be found; DNS_PROBE_FINISHED-NXDOMAIN”

In the document, summarized in an article online, the coalition of Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Charity Ngilu and Najib Balala promised to:

  • Put food and clean water on every Kenyan table,
  • Ensure that every child in Kenya gets quality education,
  • Create wealth,
  • Ensure that every Kenyan gets quality and affordable healthcare,
  • Empower Kenyan women to take their rightful place in developing this country,
  • Keep Kenya safe and secure both internally and externally,
  • Develop a cogent foreign relations and trade policy for Kenya.

I keenly listened for clear articulation of these promises to no avail. I waited for the Amherst-attendee to verbalize in his polished English the promise to “Put food and clean water on every Kenyan’s table”.

I am not sure what nation Mr. Kenyatta lives in but the one most of us live in is not the one described in the seven thousand five hundred and fifty-three words; words that made up a false sense of security and accomplishment and directly contradicted by a majority.

When IPSOS asked Kenyans what their main concerns were back in December 2016, a plurality listed hunger, corruption and the high cost of living as “the most serious problems facing them” including one in five (17%) who “barely have enough to eat”!

While opinion polls have taken a bashing over the last year due to the onslaught of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, any leader would be remiss were they to summarily dismiss or minimize findings that a section of the population “barely had enough to eat”.

Mr. President, Kenyans are hungry. They are also thirsty!

In the winding one-hour monologue, there was no mention or use of the word “food”. There were three (3) mentions of the word “water” but not within the context of the president’s delivering on the promise to “put clean water on every Kenyan’s table”. In what is a metaphor for President Kenyatta’s first term in office, one of the mentions of “water” was within the context of borrowing money from France to fund a water project!

Corruption, something President Kenyatta has accurately described as an “existential threat to the peace and security of Kenya” was mentioned ten (10) times – in a speech five hundred words shy of eight thousand words! And true to his now-patented tendency to obfuscate and misdirect on the subject, he offered, as an update, the mea culpa that he “knew…..eliminating corruption would be a journey on a rocky path”; that the “seeming lack of progress” is not accurate.

Let me cut to the chase on the subject:

There is NO “progress” in the “efforts” against corruption. Were that true, the many high-profile scandals during the president’s 1st term would have been addressed swiftly and sans prevarication. The president’s own deputy, his sister and cousin would have been hurled before the courts and either prosecuted on corruption charges or exonerated. To date, a coterie of low-level scapegoats has manipulated a corrupt court system to escape prosecution
It is quite possible that one can go to King Fadh Hospital in Lamu and verify “the addition of a new Accident and Emergency Care Centre” and some of the promises the addition entails.

What is unmistakable and has repeatedly played out over the last four years are images of Kenyans, all of them rich and well-connected, being ambulanced to South Africa, India and United Kingdom, in search of better medical treatment. What Mr. Kenyatta promised was “quality affordable healthcare” for “every Kenyan” – key words “every Kenyan”.

How President Kenyatta can reconcile the foregoing dichotomous realities from his first term in office escapes me. It is the same alternate reality that explains why it took him almost four hundred words to explain his campaign’s succinct nine-worded campaign bullet point “Ensure that every Kenyan gets quality and affordable healthcare.” The president’s State of the Union spiel on healthcare is illustration of the crisis management adage (that) “if you are explaining, you’ve already lost the narrative”.

Mr. Kenyatta almost sprained his arm congratulating his administration for “delivering honest exams.” That any society; any administration would tout the delivery of “honest exams” in a singular academic year as an accomplishment is just sad and an apt illustration of the nadir Mr. Kenyatta’s government has fallen to. Unfortunately, the corollary of the corrupt educational system is plain for all to see:

Incompetent and/or unqualified personnel, fake degrees and certificates, rampant physical, sexual and psychological abuse of students – happening inside some of the country’s top institutions including the flagship Alliance High School.

Again, how the president can reconcile the foregoing set of facts with his campaign promise of assuring that “every child in Kenya gets quality education” escapes me. It simply does not add up.

The same disconnect exists for the remaining four (4) of the seven (7) promises President Kenyatta and his Jubilee Coalition made to the Kenyan voters.

The 2017 State of the Nation was a slick blend of wiz-bang prose that did not and does not align with the reality facing many Kenyans.

People are dying of hunger and thirst in “the nation” where most Kenyans live, Schools are failing, corruption is rampant and the teachers are underpaid and disrespected. A handful of well-connected tribesmen own virtually all the wealth in the country. Patients who don’t have any money are left to fend for themselves and doctors are threatened with termination when they agitate for better wages and working conditions.

Women are 2nd class citizen in a nation that is unsafe despite spending billions to arm its police force (and military).
Kenya is a nation shunned by her neighbors who see her leaders as selfish unprincipled demagogues who act with impunity, not in the interest of their subjects, but to protect themselves from being held accountable.

I am not sure which nation President Kenyatta was referring to in his State of the Union address but it certainly wasn’t mine nor of people I know.

May God Bless Us and may He Bless THIS “Kenya” we live in.

 

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