Here’s something that unites Kenyans this January: the intense philosophical pondering over the doctor’s strike, who’s at fault, who’s not, who should we blame or should we just blame everybody for what’s going on? The doctors, the government, the people, tribalism, corruption, inefficiency, callousness, lack of decency, the sick people who are making our souls sick with all this agonising why in the world don’t they just wait until this crisis is resolved?
There has been a lot of debate about whether doctors are more important to a society than other professions are. Some of them think they are and they want to say it. They dearly want to say it but…they can’t, you don’t alienate the public at this time. So I’ll say it for them: medical health professionals are one of the most important people in any society. We need the farmers for food, the doctors so we are well enough to eat that food, the teachers to teach farmers and doctors. That’s my statement on the holy trinity of importance. It keeps going down further and further and not too far down we’ll get to priests, poets and prostitutes. They definitely come before lawyers, accountants and bankers though after builders, cleaners and deliverymen. The existential crisis about whether or not we matter is a deep one. Of course we all matter. But my point is most people would rather live with no lawyers than no prostitutes. You know these things by the fact of how many people have sought the services of the former as opposed to the latter.
So that’s how we start January. Philosophical rumbling to accompany that stomach grumbling. On the 4th straight night of noodles there are questions that deserve to be answered. Why oh why do we do this to ourselves? Must every January start in this rut? Must we be broke all the time? Do we have to December so damn hard? What is wrong with us? I told my aunt that I was broke because after my epic trip (which I will write all about after the fogs of memory make it diamond like through the mist) I had to buy gas. She almost burst out laughing:
“I’m young, I have young problems.”
I do. Ideally Njaanuary should be for parents shouldn’t it? January when you have to buy a new wardrobe of clothes, a new set of books, and manila paper-though now you can buy your lazy children pre-covered exercise books. And for whatever reason public secondary schools make you pay much more for fees in first term than they do the rest of the time. Why that happens is as good your guess as mine.
There’s also the pre-Christmas pay which if not a solely Kenyan thing is an African thing. I told a Polish girl about it and she couldn’t believe it. Why in the world pay two salaries in one month?
The dots connect. I once joked that Uhuru and Ruto are stealing wad after wad of money in an ingenious attempt to get rid of tribalism. You know, steal so much that the country unites against you. They would be martyrs, killing their political careers for the sake of the country. We wouldn’t remember them as such but they would be saved a special place in heaven where Judas Iscariot awaits. The seat next to the glory for those who do what is necessary and are hated throughout history. Atonement for the hell of having to hate what you do but doing it anyway because there is an idea here that matters more than you do. The idea of the sacrifice. The sacrifice that changes the world.
I look for national unity everywhere because we need it. And I find it and dub thee oh month of Njaanuary as another agent of this. This month strives with it’s lack of money, or pretence to lack of money, or smugness at having money, or relief at getting money to make us one. The common Kenyan condition that brings us together once again.
So as you drink keg instead of beer. As you drink once a week instead of 3. As you count down to the end of the month with a hope that cannot be contained know that you were not being foolish about how you spent your money in December. No. You my friend, my reader are involved in the great experiment of nation building that is Kenya. Your brokenness or lack of it. The knowledge of other people’s brokenness. Your social winter. Your economic slumber. As you toss and as you turn waiting for February so you can spring back….all of this is for Kenya! Kenya! Kenya! Nchi Yetu!!!!!