A volunteer from Australia working for an organization that cares for orphans and vulnerable children who was gang raped in March this year by armed robbers at her home in Nairobi, bravely recounted her ordeal in a local newspaper recently. She describes how the thugs openly joked about what the law would do to them if they were convicted of armed robbery and rape (the crime they had just committed). One of them even confessed that he was expecting to die soon.
This attitude reminded me of a movie I watched recently titled; City of God which was based on a true story about a notorious thug who emerged from the slums of Rio De Janeiro in the 80s. It paints a grim picture of hopelessness in the slums where people without hope are literally forced into crime.
This seems to be the situation we are in, in Kenya today. Of course Nairobi is nowhere near being as dangerous is Rio de Janeiro is, but we're getting there fast.
The President has displayed naivety and a lack of understanding of the situation by publicly warning criminals that they would be caught up with. This kind of approach was effective in the 60s and 70s where I am told violent bank robbers gave up their guns in terror when a certain Kenyan was appointed CID boss. But it will certainly not work today because the typical violent Kenyan criminal today who robs and rapes (isn't robbing somebody enough without having to rape them as well?) has the following characteristics;
i) They prefer death to a life of hopelessness and poverty. In other words, they would rather rob and kill than hang around jobless and hopeless in poverty.
ii) They are on drugs, many of which stimulate sexual desires as well as wiping out all traces of fear of the repercussions of their activities. This dramatically increases the chances of rape taking place during a robbery.
iii) With the kind of role models we have as politicians, they view what they are doing as the lesser evil. After all they rob from individuals, while politicians rob from masses of humanity at a time.
This situation is very similar to the state of emergency in the 50s in Kenya. Mau mau thugs (they were not fighting for the independence of Kenya as many Kenyan fairy tales suggest) were landless and hopeless in poverty after the white people who had grabbed their land started making it increasingly difficult for them to survive. They were taxed and the new economic order imposed by the colonialists meant that it was difficult to live without a job, yet the jobs were not forthcoming. Many preferred to rob and rape and face the consequences rather than lie down and quietly wait for their inevitable fate. Meanwhile the golf-playing colonialists talked about how they had improved "the economic situation" after finding "nothing". Africans were advised to work hard and seek loans in banks to set up businesses and prosper.
History surely repeats itself.
The first step in reducing crime must be to remove the hopelessness in ordinary Kenyans. The way to do that is to radically fight corruption at every level and for the presidency to take a leadership role in launching programs that address the urgent problems facing ordinary Kenyans today. For instance slums can easily be eliminated if there is enough political will.
You DO NOT remove hopelessness by carrying out coups in political parties that are sanctioned by the state.
You DO Not remove hopelessness by telling the whole nation that the economy has improved when they and their friends have sunk deeper into poverty. This is a clear message to them that they are not part of the economy that matters.
The general view amongst the rich in Kenya is that nothing can be done because there will always be poor people and rich people. That is true but the situation in Kenya is that many of our rich people have gotten rich at the expense of other less powerful Kenyans and government policies have actively created and promoted poverty over the last 40 years. The result is that there are just too many poor people in Kenya today for anybody with money in their pocket and clothes on their backs to be safe.
Who was the main brain behind the 1982 attempted coup? We now know of Raila's involvement but to this day, it is not known who within Moi's government was the main mastermind behind the coup attempt. The sad thing is that many Kenyans lost their lives, some of them at the gallows, and countless innocent Kenya Airforce officers were dismissed from the service, court-martialed and jailed, yet the main mastermind never spent a single day in jail. You will find out who this mastermind was in this week's Kumekucha Confidential. Subscribe now and get it Free (to subscribe just send a blank email to email@example.com now). Subscribe now and beat the rapidly approaching deadline after which an annual subscription for new subscribers will be charged. Those who subscribe before then will never pay a single cent.