Al Kags

I am worried.


I am worried. What is worse, is that my worries are non-specific, nagging and lurking at the back of my mind constantly as I go through my day. On the face of it, I have every reason to be optimistic – we have a new president that was elected overwhelmingly and why lie! Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are fresh! They have a different kind of administration and I have to admit it looks good. The rhetoric is quite refreshing and if they follow through on every bit of what they say, heck, if they follow through on 80% of it, we are going to have a first world country – a first class country.

But I am worried.

I listened to the new Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Fred Matiang’i in Mombasa a couple of weeks back both at Connected Kenya 2013 and at the OGP Africa Regional Meeting where he spoke of a new resolve to have an open and transparent government, of the resolve to use ICT to develop our nation, to increase efficiency and improve service delivery to our people. And I believe him. I believe in the earnestness of his voice and I believe in the power of their intent.

But I am worried.

I listened to the budget reading and I read the papers today and thought through the analysis of it. I saw the promise of laptops come to reality and I saw the promise of tax rebates for businesses that employ fresh graduates. I saw the Kshs. 67 Billion shillings that has been earmarked for the police and the Kshs. 300 Million for re-awakening the pyrethrum industry. I see in the budget amazing planning and I see confidence.

But I am still worried.

It could be because of the emerging new dictatorship by Parliament – because of their desire for an increase in salaries they have threatened havoc for the nation, they have closed the media centre in parliament, they have been clear that they will pull no punches in getting what they want – and they did. Unlimited allowances?

I am worried.

Because the budget that was read was the largest in history numbers-wise. Because while we have made the laptops promise come true, I am not sure that the education system is going to be good enough for my son (and I wanted it fixed more than I wanted him to use a laptop.) Because we didn’t sort the teachers out in any lasting or sustainable way – they are still underpaid and frustrated (and that will be passed on in the quality of education the kids get).

I am worried.

Because my doctor friends who just graduated as interns don’t get paid and have to work in sub-standard hospitals that have no equipment – hospitals that none of our leaders would ever go to, hospitals that our MPs have fought tooth and nail to avoid with their Kshs. 10,000,000 health insurance packages (international). I am worried because my other friend’s sister has had to go to India to have chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer because there aren’t enough facilities to treat him – and non of the existing ones are affordable.

I am worried.

Because the largest budget in history, reflects us, doesn’t it? We all want more money and we don’t have the fortitude to reduce our spending. We are happy to get deep into debt so that we can move to a better neighbourhood but we are not controlling our spending. And our kids will be saddled with debt for a long time.

I am worried.

Because I feel a renewed intolerance, a reduction of free space. I feel a change in our national psyche and I am not yet sure that it is a good one.

Maybe soon, I will know what my specific worry is.

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