One day, six years ago.
Two poverty-stricken women went to visit a certain son of a former Kenyan president. They had trekked more than ten kilometers to that guy’s rural home and had arrived just before the first cock crow. They did not have official invitation, neither were they in the list of the delegation that was visiting the Prince that weekend.
The women did not care for protocol. They had school-going children who had been sent home for school fees, and since none of their political leaders were picking their calls for help, these two mothers decided to make the long walk to the Prince’s home and present their plight, hoping for the best of outcomes.
After refusing to leave the precincts of the Prince’s home by force by fire, the security guards had no choice but to radio the guy manning the Prince’s diary, and since none of the day’s official guests had arrived, the Prince gave the guards the all-clear to let the women in. The women were told they had only one minute each to make their lifesaving pitch. One minute, or security would be called on them.
“Mheshimiwa, we are here to seek your help in offsetting the fee arrears of our two sons in Secondary School. It is now two months since they were sent home, and they risk missing their end-of-term exams if they don’t return next week. We have trekked here because we did not even have the means to pay for a bicycle ride. We are grateful that you gave us an audience.”
Good pitch, and bang on the point. But there was one problem. The Prince couldn’t understand what the women were saying, and so he kindly asked them to speak in mother tongue. The women repeated the same statement in vernacular, but the Prince was still floating; “What do you mean you don’t have school fees for your children? Where did it go?”
And that is the problem with this country.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is a child of privilege. He grew up playing on the lawns of State House being chauffeured to Lady Northey Nursery School, right across the fence on State House Road. He has never slept on an empty stomach, he cannot pull a handcart to save his life. That is why in November 2014 when Al Shabaab ruffians were slaughtering quarry workers in Mandera, Uhuru Kenyatta was busy watching the Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi taking selfies with international slay queens telling us how the party was lit.
It is now eleven days since the 16% VAT was slapped on petroleum products, and instead of the President flying back directly from his loan-laden trip to China, he made a five day merry-making detour in Dubai, while Kenyans were busy rioting over the escalated cost of living. He has slipped back into the county at ungodly hours unannounced. His face as guilty as sin.
Kenya has had Presidents who have addressed the country for less. Jomo Kenyatta once called the press to insult someone’s grandmother simply because the guy was asking the government tough questions. Daniel Moi once addressed the nation from his Harambee House office to remind Kenyans that KANU will rule for a 100 years and the sooner we woke up to that reality, the better for us all. President Mwai Kibaki even interrupted live programming to address us live from State House to clarify that he had only one wife. Uhuru Kenyatta is silent on this VAT thingy because he cannot relate.
And he doesn’t care.