You Write About My Country

I am unresolved about the article. Feelings of annoyance and guilt stir within; a tension stronger than my usual polite appreciation of such articles. As I write about it, I struggle, thoughts glued together, bound up as if in an outdated textbook.

The casual tone of the article irritates me.  Potential, Poverty, Politics & Parties: Why Kenya Attracts America's Best & Brightest Young Social Entrepreneurs makes comment on the development of my country as if it were just another accumulation of spectacles.

It starts with the dubbing of potential as "the people, not just their fellow expatriates, who seem to keep coming [to Nairobi from Wall Street, Harvard, Stanford and MIT] in droves...but the young Kenyans...craving something different."

It cites a slowly improving education system; an increasingly robust sector full of entrepreneurial ideas; Diasporans eager to be a part of Kenya's movement; and the budding microfinance institutions, M-Pesa, Ushahidi, M-Farm and M-Shop as igniting the tangential rise of Kenya.

Even though truth and reality is present, where is the depth in the understanding of the experiences and expressions of the people in this article? 
"Next up? Poverty. The business of poverty is, sadly, still booming in Kenya. Despite decades of nonprofit (and, on occasion, government) interventions working to make life more livable in places like the Kibera slums (one of Africa's largest slums) there's little to show for it all."
The business of poverty? And Kenyans are thriving in it because it is intentional. And what should I make of the welfare system in America? Is it the same business of poverty?
"...parties. Booming nightclubs stay open till 7 and 8 a.m., where you can dance to deep global beats with an eclectic mix of Kenyans, Americans, Europeans, and whoever else wanders in. Yet come Monday morning, if you are an American under 30, you'll most likely be trudging around the slums of Kibera, testing out a new technology or service that does this-or-that..."
There is no shortage of Guinea Pigs in Kenya. 
"As for politics...a fat dollop of corruption makes every day activities seem like a game of chance, and prepares you to always expect the unexpected in pursuing business. It's challenging, yes, but in a way an exciting learning experience for young Americans eager to build businesses in developing economies."
It is a free for all, after all. And with the lack of regulation, you can get a way with loads. And ultimately set up profitable manufacturing plants elsewhere...What will Kenya have gained from the Harvard graduates other than a couple of dollars dropped at the nightclubs, sampling our men and women?

In the end, I suppose it is a good touristy article. It sells Kenya; it highlights stagnating and sophisticated aspects of Kenya society today. Maybe I just have to come to grips with our changing world, globalization, the loss of ownership over the Kenya I used to know. The lost level of say.  Back in the days, tourists would come and go. These ones are staying.

The article creates images, smacking me in my face. Figments that show an Africa that is livable, touchable, supportable. Spectacles that regenerate themselves. It reduces concrete life into the world of supposition, of wonderment, adventure and enterprise.

Wiki njema,

Mama Shujaa


  1. I can see why that article would rub you the wrong way. These excerpts make me uncomfortable too. It's as if the whole world is a playground for American students. Still globalization should hopefully make people more empathetic and open to different cultures.

  2. So right Sarah, more empathetic, less individualistic, greedy. Thanks for visiting.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Swallow Me

See the World, No Visa Required