“In our age,” wrote George Orwell in an essay, “… all issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
The quote refers to the tumultuous period when proponents of fascism, socialism, nationalism, etc, all claimed to be telling the truth, when in fact they were propagating its antithesis.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell’s classic dystopia, is a fictional representation of this quote. In the totalitarian state of Oceania, “lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia” are the language and method of politics.
It is frightening that this quote could also, word for word, refer to present day politics in Kenya.
As an illustration of this, consider the following:
After the mock swearing-in of Raila Odinga, there was much speculation over to why his co-principals, including Kalonzo Musyoka, the man to be sworn in as his deputy, failed to turn up at Uhuru Park, the venue.
Many people, even those who had rightly judged the mock ceremony a symbolic gesture of protest without any practical significance, were curious about the mystery of the missing co-principals.
Then two key insiders appeared on television at different times to eventually unravel the mystery.
Both, wearing pious masks, wove a tale of deception and treachery right out of Arabian Nights. Putting on their patented expressions of pain and concern, they said the goal of the deceit and treachery was to portray the no-show co-principals as traitors while elevating Raila as a hero.
It was such an elaborate tale, and such a well-rehearsed performance – the right gesture, the correct change of voice to indicate great suffering, the wagging of fingers to express righteous anger, open palms to emphasise despair at the existence of such deviousness, the world-weary shaking of the head – that even those of us who automatically assume that politicians are liars and thieves until proven otherwise, gave the gentlemen the benefit of doubt.
Later, one of the no-show co-principals revealed in a TV interview that the real reason why they did not show up at Uhuru Park was because they did not support the mock swearing-in.
A few years ago, a minister became the subject of criticism over the alleged unprocedural sale of a government-owned city hotel. He huffed and puffed at rallies, decrying sinister moves to finish his tribe.
The minister was following an often-used script; when in trouble because of corruption or incompetence, summon the tribe to your defence.
Put on the most pained expression your chubby face can allow, and claim that linking you to this or that crime is the first step towards the eradication of your tribe. At rallies, make thundering and rambling speeches about your tribe’s persecution then, through innuendo, point out the enemies of the tribe.
We are again seeing the acting out of this sinister script. As the war on corruption intensifies, we hear politicians claiming that the anti-graft fight is aimed at “profiling” their ethnic community.
They appear on TV panels wearing martyred faces and lie without shame. They summon their high school acting skills to express gloom and doom. At rallies in their backyards, they rally the tribe against this persecution.
These politicians, from the very imaginative gentlemen referred to above (if they fail in politics, they should try script writing) to the politicians channelling martyrdom, know very well what they are doing.
Carl von Clausewitz opined that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” These politicians are continuing politics by Kenya’s true and tested means. Americans say, “All politics is local.” In Kenya, all politics is tribal. By uttering these untruths, the politician projects himself or herself as the defender of the tribe.
That is how to climb up the political ladder. The popular politicians in Kenya, invited to every TV panel, are those that have mastered this script, playing the hero of the tribe.
The truth is that corruption is the cause of Kenya’s underdevelopment.
Any analytical economic model would project that if all the money stolen since 1963 had been put to good use, Kenya’s GDP would be four times its present size, equal to South Africa’s and, therefore, scoring higher than that country on a per capita scale. This money has been stolen by members of different ethnic groups.
We rally to their defence, forgetting that when they are stealing money meant for hospitals, for instance, they do not care whether members of their tribe die for lack of medicines. We defend their actions which kill us slowly. A Grecian tragedy.
Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.