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INTIMIDATING MINISTERS

‘Small’ people don't matter

In Summary

• Big people don’t really care what the small people feel or do and the consequence

• We wouldn’t be surprised if MCAs from hunger-stricken counties went to Somalia for bench-marking

Last Tuesday, I visited a retired primary school headteacher who is also the treasurer to a small church sacco, I subscribe to.

One of the reasons I was visiting with the treasurer was to plead for more time in the repayment of a small loan I had taken from the sacco last year.

I have been unable to repay consistently due to non-payment of a ‘small’ amount owed by a government agency for some work I had done early last year. I have heard rumours to the effect that government agencies rarely pay small contractors in time because the size of kickbacks from these small business people is too small.

Everything about our conversation as I sat on a small bench in his small hardware shop was about small things and small people. We talked about how small businesses were closing down (his was not very far), how small contractors were not being paid by the various levels of government, how small people were losing jobs and how small scale farmers were making nothing among other small things about small people.

We found it unfitting that a ‘small’ official such as Kiunjuri should be reprimanded in public, making him feel even smaller...Former Meru Governor Peter Munya does not generally look or act small, but when the President tells him off in a gathering of Kenyans living abroad, his statute diminishes.

For a period of not less than two hours, no customer entered his shop to buy anything and I, on the other hand, was not in a hurry to go anywhere. For a while now, I had not been able to bag any significant writing project and did not have anything small to write about either. So we just talked about small people in Kenya and how they suffer at the hands of bigger people.

We talked about banks and their ‘inability’ to give loans to small businesses. They prefer corporates and we appear headed back to a period decades ago when foreign-owned banks pushed off small customers who could not maintain a certain amount of money in their accounts. We talked about small parents who have to ‘steal’ their newborn babies out of hospitals using carrier bags, because they are unable to pay for maternity fees for mother and baby to be released.

We talked about small people ‘apparently’ dying of hunger as the big people they elected steal their country and counties to the ground. We would not be surprised if MCAs from hunger-stricken counties went on bench-marking trips to Somalia and other horn of Africa countries. We discussed the congestion in our public health institutions, the lack of equipment and drugs therein, even as the big people went for medical check-ups in Europe and America.

We even got talking about how the president has of late found it fit to castigate his ‘smaller’ appointees (Cabinet secretaries) in public as if he did not have any other avenue of discussing their shortcomings.

We gave special attention to the case of Mwangi Kiunjuri, a man who would have run for the governorship of Laikipia, if, according to rumour mill, the President had not asked him to become his Cabinet Secretary. We found it unfitting that a ‘small’ official such as Kiunjuri should be reprimanded in public, making him feel even smaller.

Former Meru Governor Peter Munya does not generally look or act small, but when the President tells him off in a gathering of Kenyans living abroad, his statute diminishes.

The former primary school headmaster told me if he was the President, he would have tackled such matters differently. In his many years as a headmaster, he never rebuked teachers in front of parents.

“If I did this, the next thing I would have done would be to tell them off as the pupils watched”.

If my friend had done this, the morale of his teachers would have dipped and the results for his school would have been disastrous. But then, in Kenya, big people do not really care what the small people feel or do and the consequence thereof. Mwalimu must have come from a world of his own.