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February 20, 2019

Brains Not Brawn Needed in Government

Each year has its legends.

Students, male and female, every year, somehow know the boy or girl from Alliance, Mang’u, Kenya High, Precious Blood, Maranda and so on, who topped the Form Four national exam in their year.

And not just the top student, the top 10 or 20 whose stories are usually carried in the national dailies as they explain, what technique, given their humble background, they used to get to the top.

Anyone who comes among the top 100 or even the top 1000 students in the national exams is someone who passed exceptionally well. And they deserve to be applauded. They represent not just the result of our education system, but the brains upon which the country will rely upon in the near future to strategically chart the nation’s future forward.

In all so-called developed countries, these sort of minds are recognised early and actively directed into the most useful service to the nation that can be found.

Indeed, not just the government but even the private sector actively looks for these minds to put them to their own beneficial purposes.

Which brings us to the dilemma of this country….why, for eons we refuse to allow our best minds chart our way forward?

Why, do we choose, buffoons and goons, who because they were ready to rumble and tumble in the ruckus that is Kenyan electoral politics, to lead us?

Of all those who we have seen come out tops academically, either at high school level or at collegiate, none is seen among the nation’s top leadership.

For Kenya to be colonised, it took the efforts of the Royal Geographical Society in the United Kingdom, to send out from its best minds, explorers, who brought back reports of how the terrain of the newly found lands was.

The Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, is a graduate of Oxford University, one of the most prestigious and exclusive universities in the world.

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and took his undergraduate studies at yet anothet Ivy League institution, Columbia University.

His predecessor George W. Bush, not known particularly for his intellect, is nonetheless, a graduate of Harvard Business School and Yale University.

Bill Clinton, who preceded him, is a graduate of Yale University law school. And George Bush senior before that, Yale.

So are many of the top men and women in the American government, from cabinet secretaries to ministerial staff.

It is no wonder, that in some instances, in the Western countries, government bodies charged with regulating certain sectors, usually have equally if not more skilled workers than the private sector.

In Singapore, public service competes or even beats the private sector when it comes to employment terms.

This is because, the founding father of that country, Lee Kuan Yew, realised that his island’s only resource was human capital, and he worked to develop as much as he could, for it in turn to drive the economy.

In this country, it seems, to be of such intellect, is a curse. To exhibit it, and to do so with righteousness and forthrightness, is to invite contempt and alienation.

Meantime, crooks, who for no other talent but an ability to collude with like-minded thieves, to steal from public coffers, are hailed in the villages as achievers.

These are crooks who manage to convince the powers that be, that they are needed when in fact, they are not.

An editor of a local daily, was recently suspended for calling out the president for his alleged failures.

While the editor may have been a tad personal, his target, should have been magnanimous enough to deal with the matter differently.

For the issues that were raised were very pertinent. It is true that this country seems to be in the grip of a vicious cabal of thieves whose ransom terms, upon which they hold this government, we do not know.

We do not know, why such swift and decisively ruthless justice can be served upon one editor of a privately owned paper, yet fat cats, in government jobs, facing accusations upon accusations of graft and looting, continue to sit pretty in office.

We are yet to prosecute even one major culprit of graft, yet we can judge and suspend an editor for mere words.

This nation needs to allow its best and brightest to rise to the top. Not only would we avoid such debacles, but the sort of common thugs parading around our neighbourhoods, in big Toyota Prados and claiming to have connections in government, would not get the time of day, from people who understand what it means to be in government.

Fantastic stories we keep hearing, of yet another heist of government coffers, would not happen, if we had people of above average intellect manning our institutions, to deal with such matters once and for all.

As I wrote here, last year, when these issues continue to affront us, it is only a matter of time, before people ask, are the right people leading us?


Mbugua is a communications consultant and comments on topical issues.

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