Kenya, the Askari Nation

Written by on September 15, 2018

This morning an article found its way across one of my various timelines about how the shopping malls in Kenya are suffering from the brilliant writer indicating that this is because of reduced business due to the economy, it was yet another case of lazy journalism which has become the norm in the country.

So, I have decided to give my own perspective on why I believe most of our businesses, except the roadside eateries and kiosks, are suffering from reduced foot traffic resulting in lower revenue for the tenants. I also will use this opportunity to air a few personal concerns.

A while back I decided to take my hard earned money and spend it at the Capital Centre Shopping Mall in Nairobi along Mombasa Road, after I had achieved my objective I logically made my way towards the exit gate just to get there and be accosted by an askari aka woochi who insisted that the only way out was through the entry gate.

Being the logical person I can sometimes be I tried to reason with the person, I went as far as reading out the sign that read EXIT no Entry but seems English was not one of the languages he understood, so I switched to Swahili still he refused to barge insisting that the management, Knight Frank, had to give strict instructions that no one is to leave the premises through the exit gate but must use the entry to leave.

After a back and forth he decided to wrestle me to the ground and then frog-marched me to the security office where the property manager at the behest of the chief askari proceeded to make me feel like a petty terrorist.

This kind of activity has become the norm across the city where we give the business of dealing with visitors to the askari whether at the blue-chip company Safaricom or at some dingy pub near the Nairobi River where goat brains are the delicacy.

The one that irks me the most is within institutions that are supposed to epitomise intelligence and knowledge, the universities. I will start with the University of Nairobi where you will not be allowed entry if you don’t have your ID card, so I ask myself, do thieves and prospective terrorists have ID cards or are they withdrawn after a DNA test confirms a certain gene?

This mediocrity is not the preserve of the public universities but the private ones as well, I am at Strathmore at least twice a week and I keep having to go through multiple body checks and bag inspections when I am on foot, yet, when I drive in suddenly my car is the most dangerous contraption east of Tora Bora in Afganistan and no one cares what is in my bag or on my person.

What is interesting is that no one carries out any checks when people are living which makes me wonder, what are the universities so afraid will be brought into the premises, knowledge?

The abdication of thinking in most of our office premises and universities to the least intelligent amongst the society could explain why we have moribund elected leadership from the ward to the senate.

Imagine when the academic elite are exposed to daily humiliation and physical desecration through the four years they are at university at the hands of those they left behind in class 3 ok, maybe form 4.

Having lived through the height of the Moi regime it is clear to me that the current askari lead subjugation strategy is more effective than the fear of being dragged into the basement of the Nyayo House as this one is self inflicted and propagated.

No wonder many of us can only express ourselves in safe areas such as WhatsApp groups when airing our sentiments on national issues, with social media somehow our freedom of expression has become more curtailed which would be expected taking into account the number of times a day you are treated like a third rate imbecile.

There is now a bill somewhere in parliament that will allow the askari to carry a gun, imagine what that will mean when they have already beaten us to submission using some plastic beeping paddle.

For a while I considered this as our inevitable fate and just lay down like the rest of you and get myself fucked, yes, that is exactly what keeps being done to us every single day until we have become willing partakers of the humiliation but last night I swore never, never.

I will not allow my personal freedoms to be curtailed just because those who have been entrusted with thinking have abdicated their responsibility which sadly includes vice chancellors of institutions of higher learning to shopping mall property managers not forgetting managing directors of leading organisations.

In closing, a few weeks ago I had a meeting at the Office of the President, interesting enough the level of visible security measure was lower than that of a public toilet.

The time to get back to thinking is nigh!

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