By David G Maillu
Imagine someone trained and qualified as a pilot returning to the village to start flying self-made toys to the delight of villagers; a trained and qualified engineer taking a job in making toys. That is the parable of what most of our intellectuals are doing. It is sheer misuse of brain power.
Africa is busy producing intellectual nomads, something which pays tribute to intellectual exodus. We are producing intellectuals who are of little use to the suffering Africa where their knowledge is critically needed. When these nomads they hit back, “Africa pays us peanuts for our brains. We must seek better pastures elsewhere.” They edit out, “in Whiteman’s world.” That exodus is invites replacements of second-class intellectuals from the Whiteman’s world in the big aid industry of helping Africa. The Whiteman’s world wouldn’t dare, at whatever cost, to let its first-class intellectuals go to work in third worlds.
In Kenya, knowledge has become part of the power of capitalism. It has become a common stand that that knowledge qualified by your university degrees, like your bank account, is only yours and your family’s alone. That explains why it is so easy even for the most needful doctor in Samburu to leave his impoverished Samburu people for greener pastures in the Whiteman’s world. Colonials used African labour and taxes to build their Empires; today they are using the African intellectual to perfect their empires.
Kenya is only economically poor, leave alone the few gods of money. Yet it is teeming with intellectual wealth. It has produced the brains needed to shoot the economy of the country to the moon. However, the dominant interest in those minds is money, pesa, mbecia! Period. To get that money it is fashionable to exploit, deceive, maim, or kill for money. This is powered by the philosophy that you sell your blood where it is most worth. They are obsessed with quick money, powered by the dream of driving a four-wheel monster car or a Mercedes and live in a palatial home. It’s the birth of a culture of economic terror. Kenya is full of economist terrorists.
The country is poor because it lacks creativity in creating wealth. Even the highly educated people don’t want to be engaged in long-term creativity and professionalism. There is no incentive in individuals being obsessed with deep thinking and whatever it would take to accomplish the needed research. Money takes priority to commitment in research in science and art. History of invention has it that most inventors were people with little money. Is there a rich man who would spend his valuable time roaming in the semi-desert places studying the behavior of the African squirrel, which may lead to other scientific breakthrough?
If Kenyans put creativity into practice they would solve unemployment. Jobs are a matter of mental creation. It is the mind which created man’s power to fly. If we allow ourselves to be drugged by material terrorism, who is going to be our top scientist, researcher, discoverer, inventor, philosopher tomorrow?
That Kenyan Luo young man, who, some years ago, invented the Mobile Pesa idea which has revolutionized money transaction and become a world phenomenon, was not powered by money but by creativity. His creativity has created millions of jobs and put Kenya on the world map. The world had to learn the Mobile-Pesa miracle from Kenya. That inventor is one of the many sleeping ones. What incentive is the government giving to inventors and discovers?
If there are no jobs, it surely must be blamed on lack of creativity in the nation. For example, if Arabia is dying for charcoal, why have we not utilized our idle land by planting trees commercially for harvesting charcoal for Arabian consumption? Why are our cities not designed to have cyclist paths?
Why is the army sitting in barracks and prisoners in prisons doing nothing instead of being engaged in productive engagements like in making dams, planting trees, building bridges and, and…? If the Nairobi river water was recycled, can you imagine how much that water would irrigate? If we cannot produce a car, isn’t time we started thinking of producing motorbikes, mechanized domestic equipment? Why should we still import bicycles?
How many people would be employed if we harvested all the water running to the ocean? Why are our medical scientists not researching on our immense herbal medicine and telling us how to make an industry out of making pills? Why are we promoting eating bread for breakfast instead of eating nduma and sweet potatoes which we can grow locally? Why are our musicians sleeping on their creative minds? How dare we import food when we have expansive idle land for growing food for local and export consumption?
African governments are suffering from creative inertia. Something should beat them awake. To add an insult to an injury, the Kenyan government finds sense in paying a professionally lying politicians a monthly salary of nearly a million shillings, whereas a professor earns a quarter of that salary. That professor, scientist and doctor, have spent their lifetime in acquiring knowledge for which they are being paid peanuts.
Come to Kenya, stand by the side of a Nairobi street and start counting the percentage of the big four wheel personal cars passing by. After nearly every five saloon cars pass, you see a four-wheel monster, probably occupied by the proud owner alone or with one passenger. Go to Japan, Germany and Sweden where those monsters are manufactured and you will be amazed by how few of them you see in streets. Think of the cost of importing cars, petrol, spare parts, household goods, and nearly everything consumed in Kenya. Kenya is merely proud of fake economy crying for foreign aid because it can’t create wealth.
In Kenya money can buy you justice. Your degree is fashionable only in enabling you to earn money, but not for discovery and exploitation of intellectual frontiers. That is why a professor can throw his intellectual towel on the political ring and go for money. It is uncommon in Europe to hear a Cabinet Minister called Professor. We have got a host of Members Parliament with doctorate degrees. In intellectually developed countries where they know the work of education to the nation, Professors and top scientists are too precious to waste their brains in Parliament arguing over small matters like the supply of sanitary towels to school girls.
Fifty years since Kenya became independent; the nation has been systematically engaged in developing a culture of consumption at the cost of production, kneeling before dependency on European and Asian industrialized countries. We have an over production of educated people devoid of our creativity. We are celebrating what Prof Kabaji called mediocrity and fake economy.
A highly educated mind is like a loaded gun. He can apply his mind to get useful things, but that mental potential can also be applied for destruction. An educated thief is more dangerous than an educated thief. The worst destroyers of our economy are the highly educated because they have the power to take the population to the right path or lead them astray. Kenya has produced professors who are thieves. The thing is, what is that thief professor saying to the young generation? Where does that highly talked about integrity fit into the equation? Which are the models to be emulated by the young ones? When a pastor is engaged in stealing and in adultery, what is Christianity saying to the faithful?
Kenya has developed a philosophy of eating your cake and having it through magic tricks.
It’s time we returned to the drawing board to find out where things started breaking apart and where the rains started beating us. We are deep into the economic sea. We either learn how to swim or sink. God bless creative minds.