Merriam-Webster defines it as capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. You wonder why I bring this up, but hear me out.

In many fora, I hear people say Africa is resilient. Speaker after speaker talk about how Kenyans are resilient, that we manage as a people to recover after tragedy but I disagree with these speakers. They are spreading a gospel I can’t consciously agree to. I am not in any way opposed to resilience, not at all. So I hope I am not misunderstood.

My argument here is that as Africans, generally, and Kenyans in specific, we have learnt to survive. There is nothing great in surviving bad leadership. What choice have we? We must keep surviving or we perish and I don’t want to call this resilience. It is just basic common sense.

I have mentioned the drought in parts of north eastern Kenya and other semi arid areas. Drought is a natural phenomenon but famine is not. Famine points to a failure of societal structures to ensure food and other produce reach the intended users at all times. Where the government has failed to make this happen and instead asks for relief aid, shows not resilience but a case of poor governance. But we will not hear this in the press. Every speaker shall be talking about resilience. No, we can’t continue like this. We must demand better.

Let us first, as Africans demand that the state system that we pay for works, delivers service and then we can talk of resilience when there is calamity. As things stand, we live in a continuous calamity and we can’t take credit for mediocrity.

Maybe the only time we came close to resilience was surviving the pandemic but at what cost? Many businesses closed. Many people lost jobs. Relationships were severed. Maybe many lives were saved too, I don’t know. Maybe, given that it was expected that we would die like flies during the pandemic, and since this didn’t happen, some have taken this to mean resilience. I wish I felt the same way.

Maybe some day, we will really be resilient. At this time, we will have systems that work and our resilience will be tested when one part of it fails or is attacked by external forces. Until then, don’t call us resilient. We are survivors. We want to be more than survivors. We want to live. If you ask me, maybe we don’t even want to be resilient. A good life, a beer here with friends and bbq with enemies would be a good place to begin.

Maybe I am not making any sense.

Have a great week everyone. Be resilient.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

5 thoughts on “Resilience

  1. johnfaupel says:

    Your voice is one of millions crying in the wilderness. It began thousands of years ago, with a belief in ‘ownership’, as Rousseau, 1574 realised when he said: “the first man, who having enclosed a piece of land, bethought himself of saying ‘this is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the founder of civic(?) society”. “The universal folly for reputation and glory” (Montaigne, 1580) soon followed, together with idolatry, sublimation and slavery.


  2. Barry says:

    I don’t know Mak. Without resilience, there wouldn’t be survivors – there’d just be some sad statistics.


  3. Reblogged this on THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY and commented:
    “Resilience” is one of the societal expectations concept, enforced by those who gather taxes, yet instead of having a smart Joseph to prepare the country for draught and famine, are spending them on lavish managerial indoctrinations about why employees must be “encouraged” to become “more” resilient.
    In the UK, this has become visible through the shameless normalisation of “food banks”, where the majority of those who have thrown away their last molecules of dignity, are employees with full time jobs…
    Excellent post from @makagutu!


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