She pushed herself in against the closed door in haste as if escaping from those teargas canisters the police have been hurling on anti-IEBC demonstrators every Monday. “He is dead”, she announced, gasping for breath. You could tell she had outrun herself – maybe the best thing she has ever done ever since I asked her to start exercising. No don’t get me wrong, I didn’t ask her to wake up very early every morning because she was losing her great shape, far from it. I asked her to exercise because in the past few years there have been so much happening in the areas of heart failures and cancer diseases – ailments that are normally associated with those who don’t take their health seriously. There was something else happening to her as she waited for me to ask her who was dead. I almost asked her who was that one Kenyan, but she was smiling.
“Why is that interesting?” I asked.
“That guy … the guy we suspected to have drugged us to deep sleep and stole our big screen, remember? And the laptop? Two years ago? ”
How could I forget. That was my second TV. The first TV was meant to take me out poverty, and this one I bought to remind me that finally I had hit the road to prosperity – I had made myself permanently employed in a Multinational Company, an important employment. An employment that could finally erase all traces of poverty in my brief history of existence, an employment that my mother and siblings looked forward to for their respective bright futures. And just when things were starting to work out, I lost the job – and that sent me straight back to where I belonged. Shortly after losing that job, the thieves struck in the dead of the night.
It was a night when everything went wrong. First, having came back late from her business, she forgot to lock the main gate with the padlock. Then as usual she prepared the night’s meals, we ate, then she and the son retired to bed. Normally, I would sit on the coach for the next 4 hours either working, playing chess or watching a movie, but this night I decided to join them hardly thirty minutes after they dozed off. I dozed off soon after.
The morning came. A cold one. A dark one. It was still very early when she woke me up shouting, actually yelling. “The TV is gone, wake up you damn idiot”. “What else is missing?” I asked as I tried to stagger out of the bed to the living room”.
“They took the doors too?”
“No, they are wide open, both of them”.
“Is the cooker there? What about the gas cylinder?”
“Those are intact. Check your laptop, and phone”.
Other than the TV, a client’s laptop and my desktop CDMA phone, everything else was in place. I went back to sleep. She sat herself on the coach for god knows how many hours then decided to go to the local police station to report the incidence. By 11 AM I woke up proper, found her at the shop from where she expressed her disappointment in me.
“How dare you remain this calm yet we were robbed?”
“We are not the first. The others, have they gotten their stolen items back despite reporting to the police”.
“No”, she yielded.
To date I know of six incidences of families being robbed in the neighborhood after being drugged to deep sleep by these unemployed youth. Two of those families are my close friends. Just the other day one of the close friends narrated to me how his neighbor was robbed in an unbelievable fashion. “She is in the chicken business”, he started. “The robbers, after drugging her to sleep, packed all her chicken probably in a pickup, but before driving away, decided to slaughter one chicken, cook it in the lady’s kitchen, ate it, then pooped in the kitchen floor. You can imagine the devastation on the lady’s face when she woke up to her new life.” I could imagine.
“So that makes you happy?”, I asked my wife wondering why the news of a dead thief should make her that excited.
“Because, he is dead”.
“Okay, he is dead, that could be great news, but that’s just one down, there are ten million of them still out there”.
“Ten million?” she stared … at me. “You can’t be kidding”, she continued. “We can’t have ten million thieves in Nakuru, Can we?”.
“Ten million potential thieves, but in Kenya”, I explained.
“Anyway, I am still happy, at least one Kenyan is dead, a Kenyan who stole my big TV”, she concluded, walking out as she picked her phone and made a call to her best friend, asking her that they should go check out the dead body. Off they went, leaving me alone in deep thoughts.
By June last year, it was estimated that about 10 million Kenyans (or 40% of the labour force), were unemployed, making Kenya be in the top ten countries with the highest unemployment rates globally. If you want to know how this unemployment rate is extremely grievous, be informed that the global average of unemployment rate is 6%, and most countries in the Western sphere normally take to the streets once their unemployment rates rises above 10%. France that has been experiencing violent labour demonstrations in the past several weeks has an unemployment rate of only 10.5%. Spain and South Africa, other countries that have been experiencing labour riots due to disenfranchised unemployed youth have unemployment rates of 22.7% and 25.2% respectively. In Kenya, although we have one of the highest unemployment rates globally, we are calm, and worse.
Since April 25th, CORD has been holding anti-IEBC demonstrations across the country demanding for the IEBC commissioners to quit office. Although the demonstrations are ill-advised, I have been perplexed by the comments in social media attacking the demonstrators, telling them that they should stop being idle and find something better to do. Those attacking the demonstrators have said that the demonstrations will not put food on their tables, that those whom they are demonstrating for live in posh Karen and Runda estates as they, the demonstrators, languish in slums renowned for poverty and flying toilets namely Kibera, Mathare, Huruma and others. Those who attack the demonstrators, consequently, blame the demonstrators and largely the opposition for the poverty and joblessness the demonstrators are forced to live in.
Then there are the celebrations. Just like my wife celebrated the death of one Kenyan, many have been celebrating the fact that those poor jobless Kenyans demonstrating against the IEBC are brutalised by the police. Forget that, this week three demonstrators were killed by live bullets in Kisumu, and so many Kenyans who are against the demonstrations expressed satisfaction with the killings. The Government, in order to water down the impact of police brutality, air lifted a few injured police officers to receive treatment in Nairobi.
In my neighborhood the angry neighbors killed one Kenyan, a jobless thief. In Nairobi, the police brutalized one Kenyan, a jobless demonstrator by the name Boniface Manono, and in Kisumu the police killed three Kenyans, and in all these cases most of us felt happy, pleased, satisfied. Why? Because the Kenyan killed was a thief. We felt happy because we rationalized the brutality by explaining that those beaten or killed were robbers, muggers, shoplifters, thieves. That they are Kenyans who took advantage of our sleep to rob us in the dead of the night; that they Kenyans who took advantage of CORD demonstrations to mug and rob hard working businessmen and women in Nairobi’s CBD. What we forget that Kenya’s potential thieves runs into millions, ten million to be precise. One day and I believe the one day is very closer than you can imagine, the ten million jobless Kenyans will rise against us in ways that tear gas, acidified water, live bullets, not even the mob justice, will be able to stop.
So dear Kenyan who is celebrating the news of One Kenyan Dead, what do we do about the next ten million jobless Kenyans? If France is out there in the streets rioting simply because 10.5% of the labour force is without a job, what should we, Kenyans on Twitter and Facebook and WhatsApp, do about the millions of Kenyans being forced by circumstances to attack those of us who work hard to make a living?
You know what we should do? We should wait until our neighbors or the police kill them in cold blood so that we can have a reason to put a smile on our boring faces.
One Kenyan dead in my neighborhood may make my wife happy, but I am not amused. There are still more than ten million youth disparate for a job out there; there are ten million youth waiting for sufficient motivation to strike and strike hard. Instead of celebrating, we should agitate for more employment opportunities, and quality employment for that matter.