Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Muta Do?

Working as a consultant for Strathmore University's faculty of information technology I was tasked with examining diploma students' programming projects. We had a pretty standard marking scheme; check whether the program can interact with a database - add, update, and delete records from the database; check if the program validates user input - does it allow you to enter text in a field which should only have numbers; etc.

For a student to pass, technically all they required to do was ensure they met these criteria. Despite this many students were marked down for petty errors which had little to do with the functionality of the program. Some of my fellow examiners took a perverse pleasure in 'crashing' the examinees software and reducing them into tears, even when these examinees were their students who they had been in charge of for over three months. "This is not working, that is not running, it doesn't function". They complained and complained, crashing software, terrifying the student, and as I now realise, releasing the pent up frustrations that being a Kenyan necessarily builds up.

Kenyans are said to love complaining, and perhaps this is what this blog post is going to do - complain. The problem of course is not that we complain, but that just like the examiners marking down their students, our complaining has no positive effect. It's negative and doesn't appreciate the role that we play in the things that we complain about.

I'm going to try today and appreciate the role that I play in those things that make me so angry about my country. Everyday together with millions of other Kenyans we do bad things confident in the fact that we shall suffer no consequences. It is because we have realized after all hakuna kitu muta do!
im·pu·ni·ty \im-ˈpyü-nə-tē\
exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss
I'm approaching the traffic lights at the junction. The light has already turned red but two cars before me have made it through. If I step on the pedal harder, I'll also be able to make it to the intersection before the car with the right of way gets there. I miscalculate and she has to brake hard to avoid hitting the left side of my car. I make a face but avoid eye contact with the irate other driver and squeeze my car through the space, thinking uta do?

It's three o'clock, I'm sitting at the reception desk bored to death; my facebook page hasn't had any new updates for the past fifteen minutes. I take out my mobile phone and start to send text jokes I've copied from the net to my friends. Two visitors walk into the office and approach my desk. I don't look up from my phone as I laugh from one response. Five minutes pass by and the visitors impatiently tap the desk to get my attention. I raise my palm to motion that they should wait, I need to reply to this really funny text, I'm ROFLMAO. 15 minutes gone, and one of the visitors walks out while the other sighs in exasperation. "Arghh, si they relax" I'm thinking, anyway muta do?

I pull up into the driveway of my Westland's apartment, I park the Prado behind my C-Class Mercedes taking a moment to admire its German curves. Whistling, I step down from the SUV Toyota and walk to the house, briefcase in hand, happy that it's Friday. Moses, the day watchman, runs after me "Boss, watu wa stima..." "Whaaat!" I don't let him finish the sentence shouting "I hope hawajakata!" "Boss..." he continues "ile bill nilikupa last week ilionesha kuna deni ya miezi saba, walisema kuna pressure huko ofisi, walikataa kuchukua kitu kidogo kama last time". Without hesitation I tell him to fix a wire where the fuse has been removed, after all they don't expect me to spend the weekend in darkness, wata do?

Alex steps in my office for the fourth time this afternoon, "can I see you sir". "Not now Alex", I stop him without looking up from the magazine I'm going through, "I told you I'm busy". "Sorry sir" he apologizes "but you promise you'll see me today" "Yes, yes, yes" I dismiss him with a wave of my hand. I really need to find some nice gold earrings to buy for Irene from this jewelry magazine. It's our second date and I want to impress her. I hope Alex is still not planning to bug me about his salary, he knows very well the business is not doing well, and if he's survived for three months, a few more days shouldn't hurt him ata do?

I'm awake by 10:00 am but I feel like breakfast in bed today. I press the intercom and Jane, the head housekeeper is instantly on the other line "Mtukufu, habari ya asubuhi" she's saying "Mzuri, mzuri Jane, leta chai kama kawaida". In less time than it takes for me to reach over and start reading the Dailies placed on the cabinet next to my bed, five caterers wheel in my breakfast. Together with a steaming pot of tea, there are two slices of buttered toast, freshly baked sweet potatoes with Parmesan cheese, two bananas imported from Florida, finely sliced mutura and a flask of goat head soup. One of the Dailies is talking about how some advisory board is going to tell me who I need to pick. Upumbafu! No one is going to tell me how to do my job. I reach over to the intercom again and shout some instructions. It takes some time because of the half chewed sweet-potato and mutura in my mouth but the message goes through. The reaction is swift after the media learn my decision. Watching the tumundus on TV trying to analyse how 'wrong' my decision is I laugh into the TV, muta do?


Anonymous said...

although niko na chapa zake, sita chukua phone yake, ata do?

AFRI Business Development said...

This is so true although funny its seriously not funny.

Qat said...

Sisi sote ni "wapumbavu" tu!!!

Qat said...

He and everyone else... we are all "......... tu", u know, infected by the culture of impunity. Tutado what?

Qat said...

Him, and basically everyone else, we'r all '......... tu' u knw wht i mean. Watado what?!

Kelvin said...

Ni nchi ya watu wadogo

Anonymous said...

well put