There’s crucifixion of intellect in Kenya. We are gradually trivializing the importance of high literacy levels, what it means to be a professional and the impact of professionals in a country.
I’d like to use a case study.
Oscar gets C- in mathematics, C- in English, C+ in Geography, C+ in Commerce…
Now,Oscar displays great initiative. He upgrades on failed subjects, enrolls in a program to pursue a degree in Economics.
Oscar is good at networking.Oscar’s dad is well connected and he get’s a plum job as an economist in the Ministry of Finance and Planning.
Economics as a profession requires someone who’s really good at figures. A person who doesn’t nod off while analyzing global inflation trends, standard deviations of the price index..you get the drift. Consequently it requires language skills that are above par in order to correctly interpret,conceptualize and internalize information provided for by actuaries. It goes without saying an economist is a person who must be consistently updated on the stock exchange, currency fluctuations, weather changes..etc. One who can read the budget speech–the whole of it and give an informed opinion. Oscar in fact should be able to craft a speech for the Cabinet Secretary at impromptu.
Now the typical Oscar in this case study has a good salary. But, these things are boring and he doesn’t need to understand them. It is not his forte. After all he’s permanently employed and pensionable.
Oscar likes to stay updated. As he goes to the office every morning, he religiously tunes in to Maina Kageni and Kingangi on his car radio to listen to why you should not let your housemaid serve food to your husband.
Oscar has a well developed reading culture. When he gets to the office, he ignores the Financial dailies bought by the taxpayer but rather grabs the Crazy Monday pull out and concentrates on a story about a shamba boy who had engaged in bestial acts.
Once in a while he gets to represent Kenya in global conferences where he puts into use his exemplary listening skills for a whole week.. doesnt even ask questions. No, why should he and yet he knows it is prudent to economize on time.
Recently he had to go to Quito,Ecuador. That was the first time he had heard of such a country. He didn’t even know which continent it was on. That’s how he learns Geography.
He never prepares a paper to present at such conferences. Instead he listens to presentations from top notch economists who attended the London School of Economics, Harvard University and such. (We all know the stringent requirements to qualify for such institutions).
Do not forget, at these conferences, these other fellows present papers addressing economic problems and their proposed solutions for their own countries, not KENYA’S.
These chaps/ladies comprehensively present well researched ideologies,articulate and go back to their countries with real solutions. Sometimes they have conferences to discuss third world problems, but Oscar still does not have anything to contribute. He doesn’t comprehend why these fellows are obsessed with words that end in -isms. After all, he’s only a high flier and a technocrat.
Oscar is an effective communicator and you cannot beat him at disseminating information timely. Every time he goes for a conference, Oscar constantly updates us with plenty of great photos on Facebook and Instagram.
Oscar has been at the Ministry of Finance and Planning for close to ten years now. We met at our local joint recently and I sought his opinion on the economic problems straddling Kenya. He told me he’s absolutely sure that the government is the source of all problems and that if Kenyans voted for a new government, things will change for the better.
I could go on and on about Oscar…but what for? This is too long an update for him to read. Luckily, this protects me from him. He’s bound to accuse me of being idle and feeling jealous of his accomplishments…I don’t want that as I won’t get free drinks from him today in the evening.
As water finds its level, so should one’s strengths.The moment we say that it is not a prerequisite to have credible education of a certain level to manage a crucial sector of a nation, well, that’s the endorsement of mediocrity.