Some Reactions to ‘Confessions of a Middle Class Kenyan’
May 10, 2005 3 Comments
I just read these comments on the Confessions of a Middle Class Kenyan post and thought that they were so passionate, they needed to be better displayed.
Anonymous: I stopped being guilty and apologetic for being a middle class Kenyan along time ago. Human beings are about interests and interests first. The difference between an action that is immoral and one that is evil is if the interest is broad and long term or if it is narrow and short term.The guy in my village defines his interests in term of his ethnicity and therefore he acts as such. Being middle class and cosmopolitan I define my interests in terms of class as opposed to ethnicity. So then, which interest serves Kenya better? I don’t particularly like poor people however, it is in my interests that there are fewer of them so that they leave me be to enjoy my life. I personally am tired of the b.s that middle class conversations about morality for moralities sake. The morality has to be discussed in terms of interests and the players and roles they play. This I believe is a lot more interesting and a better framework for addressing that, which ails us.
Deno: As a middle class Kenyan myself, I have to concur with our smug obsession with socially extricated from what is the real life of the AVERAGE Kenyan. We talk about it lots; it bothers me that the talk never goes beyond superficial concern. These ‘class tensions’ are exacerbated by languages evolving and growing within each class, languages whose sole intention seems to be exclusion. I think the first stop (as with any therapy session) is we sit down and speak the same language till we unearth the conflict. I may be slightly obsessed with blogging, but I really think that dialogues like these are the beginning of such a ‘therapy session’ for Kenyans. The goal now is to get a more diverse group of Kenyans blogging, since as Arunga correctly noted, most of your readers, if not all, are members of the Kenyan middle class.
Akinyi J. Arunga:
Deno, I recently began to listen to the music of Kalamashaka, and other underground Kenyan musicians and they are having the dialogue. It is just hair raising to hear the lyrics of their songs, they are literally fermenting a revolution and the rest of us are oblivious. If you are not familiar with K-Shaka… that is where the true politics of the mwananchi is done. All these things are expressed there, the treatment of Hawkers, the legislation of massive wealth acquisition by politicians, and the deep cry of the youth in the poor neighbourhoods, saying they are living the consequences of these things, and yet when they even sing about their plea, the MCs in the middle class radio stations will not even play their music, unless they sing about girls’ booty… That stuff can make you cry. It is detailed, it is potent, it is true and it is Kenya, the Kenya that we have refused to engage with. We buy tomatoes from the woman on the street, but never yell out in outrage when the NCC askaris, crush those tomatoes and throw her in their truck. It is as if she has no children to feed, to cloth, to educate and shelter. It is as if we conveniently have amnesia of the convenience she offers us on our way from work, being able to pick nice fresh juicy tomatoes for a fraction of what the cost at uchumi, where we have no time to go in the rush hour as we are trying to run and catch the Mathree home. But then we can hold conference after conference about poverty reduction and Millennium Development Goals… lofty things that give us power, since we assign ourselves the task to achieve them, forgetting that each of those Kenyans just like you and I, is precisely trying to achieve their his or her own realistic development goal, but get robbed blind, beaten abused (Do you know how many times the Markets have been burnt down?)… so that that power they have to do it for themselves is transferred to the people with better English, so that instead of innovating, being creative and excellent, people are now leaving school to get jobs at NGOs so that they can help Develop their fellow Kenyans! BTW, for offering convenience at better prices than other traders, people in the U.S become millionaires (See Wal-Mart); that is their reward… But in Kenya Alas!