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Random observations for the day

– Did you know that the number of matatus on the road has increased by 54% since the introduction of the infamous Michuki rules…so much for those who predicted that the industry would grind to a halt.

– Should human rights activists be banned from running for political office – what the hell is up with Murungi and Mirugi Kariuki?

So Minister of Health, Charity Ngilu, was recently the first Cabinet Minister to seek treatment in a public hospital. She was widely commended for taking “this bold step” and sending the signal that public funds should not be wasted on sending our politicians overseas for treatment (maybe an exception for brain surgery?), particularly when a majority of Kenyans have no alternative but to seek treatment at a public hospital. So was this a step in the right direction, or nothing more than a publicity stunt? A chat with my HIV+ neighbor who recently spent a month in Kenyatta’s infectious diseases ward suggests that Ngilu’s claim that Kenyans should feel comfortable with seeking treatment at Kenyatta is laughable…Kenyatta hospital is still very much the hospital of last resort – unless you are admitted to the private wing, where those who can afford at and other “bold” Ministers are admitted. Get this, my neighbor is actually doing MUCH better since she left Kenyatta and added 3kgs in less than a week. She says she was desperate to leave the place because she was convinced she would die there. One of my other neighbors who went to visit her says she literally fell sick after witnessing the conditions there.

Some of the horror stories:

– Patients still share a bed, at least in the ward where she was admitted – we are talking about people who are mostly suffering from later stage opportunistic infections. There was an older female patient who couldn’t control her bowel movements so no one would share a bed with her. The nurses put her on the floor (cement and it has been very cold in Nairobi). She died the next day.

– The nurses were nowhere to be seen – you were essentially on your own.

– In the one month she was there, they were at least 3-4 deaths a week – most caused by sheer neglect/inattention. One woman died while sitting up waiting for the nurse to appear.

– Diet was rice and beans or ugali and some form of greens. Day in day out. Meanwhile our government is busy throwing a bash worth a million Kshs for someone who didn’t even bother to show up.

Folks, my neighbor’s story is just a microsm of the struggle that is life in Kenya today for most Kenyans. Everyday, I’m in Nairobi I am confronted with two realities – one where a few people are doing well (both legit and illegit) and other where most people are struggling to survive and are forced to live an undignified life despite working hard…something will have to give one day, there are just too many people with nothing to lose no matter what the scenario is (banana, orange, democracy, autocracy, etc.) and that to me is very disturbing.

11 comments to Random observations for the day

  • Rich

    Ory, your observations are correct. I concur something will have to give. You can imagine how frustrated the Doctors at KNH are watching those patients die when they know they could have done something.

  • JKE

    Remember Binyavanga’s quote, “In order to negotiate our complex lives, Nairobi people have learned to have dual personalities. We move from one language to another, from one identity to another, navigating different worlds, some of which never meet. “

  • JKE

    Aaaahh…could you please correct my last comment and take out those arrow letters (coz they’ve cut half of my text away…stupid I :-)? Thx!


  • Life in Kenya has been ‘constructed’ by circumstances in such a way that events do not, cannot, will not, match ones own expectation. Indeed something will have to give; it is my hope, before this dawn beckons, wisdom among those in authority will prevail. Wisdom in this case being organized ‘life’.
    The mystery of existence is the connection between our faults and our misfortunes. Our process of existence in the villages, back alleys, office or shambaz for that mater cannot be alien to a government that preaches progress yet regresses at every fitting.
    I contend that the outcome of the referendum will chill even the so called ‘professors of politics and politicking’. For a country that stands alone in many aspects in our region, it is a pity that we have stooges and despots for leaders. The charade that is parliament only adds to the anguish.

  • bankelele

    Sad for Githongo’s efforts in that; Corruption is the glue that links the haves (who can’t take No for an answer in any sisuation e.g. school admission, police stop, city hall permit) and the have- not’s (who are stuggling to survive on meagre salaries or sales.

  • Terrible as affairs are in Kenya, I sometimes wonder how willing the average citizen is to get away from all their woes. They spend a lot of time blindly following non performing MPs and their underinformed ideas. I’m not sure if they are just too lazy to gather knowledge or if its just easier to follow the masses. Plus kenyans are ungrateful, they complain about everything including attempts to better their lives. Take for example the education of free primary education. Granted it has it issues. But given the current economic situation of Kenya, how long would it take to implement this with very few expectations of hitches? And meanwhile, what happens to basic education for the poor? Kenyans have to save themselves. It starts with the elections. They have to start casting intelligent votes!

    I agree, but to cast intelligent votes you need “intelligent options”…Uhuru and Kibaki are the only options for 2007…very scary indeed.

  • prousette

    The crop of leaders we have today -ok maybe the ones we have had since independence- are obsessed with window dressing and pleasing people at the expense of the bigger picture that is nation building. KNH is the same old, and even earlier if Ngilu had gone there she would have gotten red carpet treatment because of who she is!
    I do not know how a person who has the means to make a big change in our country can be walking around stuffing bananas oranges and things :twisted:in their faces knowing very well that there are citizens of this country to whom the said fruits are a luxury they can only dream of. We sure need a revolution.

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