History repeats itself

first as farce, then as tragedy

I don’t want to be accused of impugning the reputation of the president and deputy president of Kenya by claiming they read anything beyond how to steal our money and security briefs on who was killed where by their security organs. Or which sector can they stuff or is it staff with their minions. Talking of which, I have never heard any of them cite any work. Nada. Nor have I heard them say anything that is worth quoting and no, I am not talking of silly things like mnataka nifanye nini or Ruto wept or security starts with you. 

In 1875, Engels, in an essay titled On social relations in Russia, wrote, and I will quote it extensively because it almost applies word for word for our situation in Kenya.

It is clear that the condition of the Russian peasants since the emancipation from serfdom, has  become intolerable and cannot be maintained much longer, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, a revolution is in the offing in Russia … Her financial affairs are in extreme disorder. Taxes cannot be screwed any higher, the interest on old state loans is paid by means of new loans, and every new loan meets with greater difficulties; money can now be raised only on the pretext of building railways! The administration, corrupt from top to bottom … The entire agricultural production … completely dislocated by the redemption settlement of 1861 … The whole held together with great difficulty and only outwardly by an Oriental despotism the arbitrariness of which we in the West simply cannot imagine; a despotism that, from day to day, not only comes into more glaring contradiction with the views of the enlightened classes and, in particular, with those of the rapidly developing bourgeoisie of the capital, but, in the person of its present bearer, has lost its head, one day making concessions to liberalism and the next, frightened, cancelling them again and thus bringing itself more and more into disrepute. With all that, a growing recognition among the enlightened strata of the nation concentrated in the capital that this position is untenable, that a revolution is impending, and the illusion that it will be possible to guide this revolution along a smooth, constitutional channel. Here all the conditions of a revolution are combined, of a revolution that, started by the upper classes of the capital, perhaps even by the government itself, must be rapidly carried further, beyond the first constitutional phase, by the peasants; of a revolution that will be of the greatest importance for the whole of Europe, if only because it will destroy at one blow the last, so far intact, reserve of the entire European reaction. This revolution is surely approaching.

If I were to rewrite the above quote to reflect what is going on in Kenya, it would read something like this

It is clear that the condition of the Kenyan worker (citizen) since the emancipation from colonial rule, has  become intolerable and cannot be maintained much longer, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, a revolution is in the offing in Kenya … Her financial affairs are in extreme disorder. Taxes cannot be screwed any higher, the interest on old state loans is paid by means of new loans, and every new loan meets with greater difficulties; money can now be raised only on the pretext of building railways! The administration, corrupt from top to bottom … The entire agricultural production … completely dislocated by the redemption settlement of 1963… The whole held together with great difficulty and only outwardly by an Oriental despotism the arbitrariness of which we in the West simply cannot imagine; a despotism that, from day to day, not only comes into more glaring contradiction with the views of the enlightened classes and, in particular, with those of the rapidly developing bourgeoisie of the capital, but, in the person of its present bearer, has lost its head, one day making concessions to liberalism and the next, frightened, cancelling them again and thus bringing itself more and more into disrepute. With all that, a growing recognition among the enlightened strata of the nation concentrated in the capital that this position is untenable, that a revolution is impending, and the illusion that it will be possible to guide this revolution along a smooth, constitutional channel. Here all the conditions of a revolution are combined, of a revolution that, started by the upper classes of the capital, perhaps even by the government itself, must be rapidly carried further, beyond the first constitutional phase, by the peasants; of a revolution that will be of the greatest importance for the whole of Africa, if only because it will destroy at one blow the last, so far intact, reserve of the entire African reaction. This revolution is surely approaching.

That, my friends is the state of the republic as it currently stands and as I have said, our leaders don’t read. It is likely they will progress with their heads buried in the sand while giving us the one finger salute.

 

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How Europe underdeveloped Africa

By Walter Rodney

I just started reading this book and it is one of those that need to be read with others, in community. It is not enough to read it alone.

Elsewhere on this blog, I have said education is the chief way we will address the challenges facing us in this century, in Africa and the world as a whole. What type of education? A problem posing, as Paulo Freire put it in the pedagogy of the oppressed. This, problem posing education, is, I aver, what has been lacking in our curriculum.

I digress.

This book first published 46 years ago today is still so relevant it makes me want to cry.

For example, Rodney writes

The incomes given to civil servants, professionals, merchants, come from the store of wealth produced by the community. Quite apart from the injustices in the distribution of wealth, one has to dismiss the argument that ‘the taxpayers’ money is what develops a country. In pursuing the goal of development, one must start with the producers and move on from there to see whether the products of their labour are being rationally utilised to bring greater independence and well being to the nation.

Elsewhere he writes, and it is true, painfully so,

It has been noted with irony that the principal ” industry” of many underdeveloped countries is administration. [……]the salaries given to the elected politicians are higher than those given to British MPs

And this, my friends, is just the beginning of the book and I am already annoyed.

#couldhavebeenatweet