Have you ever stopped to think about things that seem to matter to us as Kenyans? Things we pursue fervently?
Well, some months ago, social media was awash with ‘Ni Ya Switi’ jokes, a phrase that was coined following disclosure of missing millions in Devolution ministry. If you ask me, it is the noise made by opposition and mainstream media that forced the President to take action. Otherwise most of the people who posted about Ni Ya Switi were not pushing for any social cause, but just wanted to feel relevant. In fact, majority of Kenyans on Twitter just hijack hashtags without any clue where they started or where they are headed.
If you want to confirm that most of the trending topics in Kenya add no value to our lives, just check how many people are tweeting about Kenya Power tariff hikes – am sure most of you have no idea the price of tokens went up by 4/- a unit. See how many engineers are talking about a new invention they are introducing to the market. By the way, I have not seen anybody tweet about a patent they have just filed for – things like SkyDeck viewing dome, new technology or such serious life-changing issues. The only time we came close to that was when #SafaricomStealsIdeas was trending, and I bet most of the people tweeting did not know which ideas Safaricom has stolen or from whom.
I keep saying we are very creative, but in the wrong way. While South Africa is inventing ways of manufacturing rain from the air, we are busy blaming people of Makueni for being over-optimistic. We keep complaining that Ukambani is dry, Nairobi is insecure, the government is corrupt, and our roads unsafe.
Question is, why can’t we use the creativity we have to come up with solutions for our problems? Is our creativity only useful when insulting opposition of one Waikulu lady? Creativity is not subjective, but we limit ourselves by preoccupying our minds with useless social media wars. True, humour is good but there is time also for serious business.
When problems arise, we just make noise to keep Twitter busy until a distraction shows up and we all forget what we were fighting for. Things calm down on their own, often without any amicable solution. Some of the problems we whine about are even self imposed. For instance, how can you accuse the government of corruption when you are always dishing out money to traffic police after being caught breaking the county bylaws? Are you ready to buy chai in order to win a tender, or be served in a government office? If there is a chief priest of corruption, you must be the altar boy/girl.
Do you realize the world is coming to invest in Kenya because we have too many problems but are unwilling to come up with solutions? For instance, how can Jikokoa be created in the US when we are the ones who cook with charcoal?
Opportunities are created when one comes up with a product, service or process that will solve a particular problem or improve an existing service/process. Let no one lie to you; the increasing number of foreign investors shows how we are unwilling to put our creativity into proper use. We are even creating some of the problems and hiring foreigners to help solve them.
How long are we going to import solutions to the problems we create ourselves? It is time we stopped cheap social media politics and put our creativity into some good use. Let us also stop fighting unworthy battles and start fighting for efficient service delivery, fair representation, equitable distribution of resources, sufficient infrastructure and more development. Otherwise China will keep inventing more toothpicks yet we are the manufacturers of nyama choma.