KENYA IS IN RECESSION
I was an undergraduate student when the World Bank told GoK to stop funding university education because Africans didn’t need degrees; they needed to go to primary school. Never mind that primary schools needed teachers and teachers needed to be taught at tertiary institutions.
The amazing thing is that most us students didnt know that boom was ending because World Bank had insulted us, and because Kenya was in recession and World Bank has imposed Structural Adjustment Programs. We were kept so ignorant that we thought it was just another GoK decision and rioted against it. And then we thought we were sent home for nine months for bad behavior, not because GoK didn’t want us to ask questions.
The SAPs brought misery to Kenya. That was when politicians privatized parastatals and social services like health and education for a song. That was the beginning of the wage gap between the rich and poor increasing, and the beginning of the end of the middle class.
But educated Kenyans of my generation slept through the recession. We started taking our kids to private schools and seeking treatment at private hospitals. We thought it was normal to seek private solutions to public problems. We thought that the rest suffered for not being intelligent enough to be accepted into form 6 or into university.
That is how my generation slept through a recession. We never knew what happened to us. And then when Kibaki became president, he cheated us that the problem was management styles. So we started the neoliberal mess of commercialization, privatization and performance management.
Most of all, in the 80 and 90s, we thought our social services were deteriorating because we were Africans and Africans cannot run anything properly. The few intellectuals who said that our problems were political, not racial, were exiled, detained or killed.
That is why the gurus of prosperity gospel, self-help financial improvement and motivational speakers are from my generation. We still believe that poverty, lack of healthcare and education are personal choices, are not socially structured. We were dis-educated from thinking socially.
Now is the time to stop this sleeping through the recession. The youth must not repeat the mistake we made as youth in the 80s and 90s. The media is misleading Kenyans by talking about the cash strapped universites as a problem internal to universities, when the reality is that KENYA IS IN A RECESSION due to the greed of local and international corprates.
A recession means that we must not accept austerity in social services. We must refuse decrees like 4bn for NHIF and Cuban doctors in Kenya, when the people who stole money for our hospitals have not refunded it. We don’t need NHIF if we have good public hospitals. We cannot be paying private universities for students when public universities are getting no funding.
We must not sleep through this recession. We must name it for what it is. Otherwise today’s youth will be poorer parents and their children will live in even deeper poverty. I cannot afford the things my parents afforded at my age, so if we keep quiet, our children at our age will not afford the little we afford now. And our grandchildren will live in poverty. I guarantee it.
So even though we kept quiet during the previous recession, we must not keep quiet this time round. We must name the recession for what it is, demand the restoration of public services, taxation of the rich, especially of huge tracts of land, and jail terms and reparations from thieves of public money. #RecessionKE
Activist Wandia Njoya