JOHN GITHONGO-HERO OR VILLAIN?


“If you’re walking in the Savannah and a lion attacks climb a thorn tree and wait there for a while”…..Kamba proverb

What an apt way to start the 2nd chapter of Michela Wrongs ‘Its our turn to eat-The Story of a Kenyan Whistle blower’.It is said that bookshops in Kenya are too scared to sell it yet what it brings out are facts that are already in the public domain.

Reading the book i moved from amazement at the way Michela perfectly encapsulates the Kenyan society in words.She has also done a wonderful job tracing Kenya’s history.I chuckled when i read of the sameness of presidential lodgings in former British colonies be it Zambia,Tanzania or Kenya.Fall asleep in the waiting room of one of them say in Nairobi and you might as well be n Lusaka,Zambia.On Kenyans obsession with land she quotes the late president Kenyatta who wrote”There is a great desire in the heart of every Gikuyu man to own a piece of land on which he can build his home.A man or woman who cannot say to his friends,come and eat,drink and enjoy the fruit of my labor,is not considered a worthy member of the tribe.”

History offers lessons for anyone who cares to learn .And it is said we cannot all make similar mistakes so we need to learn from the lessons of yester year.Kenya political history is riddled with tribal coalitions .And 47 years after independence we are still using the same formula and expecting different results.

Michela Wrong’s book should be made a mandatory read in our institutions of higher learning because she presents an outsiders view on Kenya’s issues.We are too often as Kenyans looking at our peculiarities with rose colored glasses and we accept them as part of our culture.It is time we evaluated ourselves and sought to rectify history before it teaches us the hard truth,that we can never ever move forward while we still cling to our tribal groupings.

Love him or hate him John Githongo did what many of us are afraid to do in our daily lives,he stood up for the truth and he lost.We labeled him a traitor for airing our dirty linen in public .When he came for an interview at one of our TV stations it was heart breaking to see the kind of responses he was eliciting form fellow Kenyans.Kenyans have chosen to live with corruption and have accepted it as the norm.

But something John’s story taught me is that when we sacrifice truth we may not see the results immediately but we will live with it and our children are going to pay for it.We have lost millions through shady deals over the course of the years and impunity has become an accepted Kenyan phenomenon.

When we passed the new constitution we welcomed a new dawn for the country and future generations.We need to pick up from where John left off,lets stand up for the truth lets forgo instant gratification and work at building and leaving a legacy for our children where truth ad justice above all are the pillars that we build our country on.Finally lets cut John some slack he has taught us a lesson on tough love.

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