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Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta got really mad about maize and how farmers were being handled by the arm of government that deals with agriculture.

He was, in fact, so angry about the matter that it is on record he reprimanded his Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture in public at one of the events that we know as agricultural shows.

That day, the President showed such anger that one would have thought that his composure would have warned all Kenyans that the time had come to deal with the maize matter once and for all.

In the last week, the noise from the maize farmers has taught us that there is still some discomfort with the arrangements of how farmers sell their produce to the government agency that deals with that matter and, to some extent, the government’s take on the pricing.

There certainly seems to be a lot of push and pull between the government, the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and farmers.

That, in my view, is a very dangerous situation given that the matter of corruption has been talked about a lot in recent times.

Let us all not forget that maize is the staple food for the majority of Kenyans.

When anyone plays around with it — no matter how much money they make out of it — they are playing around with serious fire. That fire could end up burning them.


Let us not forget that in the life of a human being there are only three things that truly matter. The most basic things are the ones we all ignore. We have to start from the very beginning.

The most basic things we know and have experience of are food, clothing and shelter.

Whether we are politicians, presidents, ministers, administrators, priests, bishops or whatever, those are requirements that none of us can do without.

I have been analysing for as long as I have been teaching and I have come to the conclusion that among those basic needs the most important is food.

A well-fed fellow can go and find a place to sleep or even find leaves with which to cover him or herself. A person who has not eaten will have no energy to do that.

Food is a serious matter and if this government is serious with sorting out Kenyans, it must consider sorting out the maize issue.

Knowing that maize products are key to Kenyans, we may also want to remember the last big issue that propelled the French Revolution was an item of their staple food — bread.

Fr Wamugunda is the Dean of Students and a lecturer on Sociology at the University of Nairobi. [email protected]