Thursday, June 08, 2006

While others live large others live small

...without any finance or income at all.I remember that line from a verse by Kenyan rapper Bamboo.
That line came into my mind after I read this article.It seems that our kleptocrats latest lair has been laid bare for our eyes to see.These exclusive villas are not advertised so you have to be part of the right crowd to hear about them. This luxurious enclave is owned by the Kenyatta Family (Why am I not surprised) and as the article points out only the high and mighty can afford to live here.
A price tag of 8,500,000 - 10,000, 000 is used to keep out the hoi polloi.
"It boasts elaborate recreation facilities such as an expansive golf course, a tennis court, swimming pools and an all-weather airstrip that are all available to residents at a discounted fee."
Talk about opulence!Instead of having to drive on the bad roads that are a result of their mismanagement of public funds our knuckle head MPs (Fred Gumo,Raphael Tuju, George Saitoti and Uhuru Kenyatta) can just fly in.Add to this the fact that the estate is 13km from highway so they can enjoy their spoils without any disturbance whatsoever from any locals (I doubt they would be let in anyway).
I have nothing against people living like this on hard earned money but it galls me when money from the public coffers is used to bankroll this lifestyle.Someone correct me if I am wrong but I read somewhere that Kenya has now surpassed Brazil in terms of unequal distribution of wealth among society.When I read this article I am not surprised, and instead of dealing with it; it is easier to establish enclaves where you don't have to see the poor and deal with them.Build your own walled city and just fly in and out when you want to.What I wonder is how long will this state of affairs continue before the hungry masses stage an uprising?It may seem unlikely but it has happened in other countries before and it can happen in Kenya too.


Joseph Walking said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joseph Walking said...

Aco on this one you dont have my vote. Seriously I think I am tired of hearing Kenyans complain about other Kenyans. I understand based on the report it seems that politicians make up the larger share of owners but I can categorically say that is not so. Let me remind you that a house in Nairobi worth even 20 million is nothing new;The problem with most kenyans is limited exposure . secondly there are many hard working families in Kenya who have acquired wealth through handwork.

Despite what journalist and others may try to portray those families have also suffered financial loss due to financial mismanagement of the country as a whole. When ever a major company closed down in Kenya it was not only the workers who suffered but the owners also suffered

So as we read about beautiful houses or see people who are blessed with fancy cars etc let us not assume that they are guilty for the problems facing other Kenyans. It is always easy to critic and find fault as a means of escapism. Let people hanker down and work hard. Money in itself is not evil.

I will soon do a post on the two Kenyans .conservatives and neo liberals. Wealth and its distribution .why middle class Kenya makes me sick. Be sure aco to look out for it

Joseph Walking said...

Disclaimer:My own personal networth(i joseph) does not even qualify me as a lower middle class kenyan but i do earn more than a dollar a day

Msanii_XL said...

Joe clearly this part of post went past your head

I have nothing against people living like this on hard earned money

acolyte said...

@ Joe
I am not complaining that such a place exists and you have seen at some point in my post I did mention that it is all well and good for those who have earned their money well to buy such houses.But where do you think the Kenyatta family got the money to buy such land?Do you think that Francis Atwoli on his salary can afford to drive a mercedes in Nairobi, liver large there and own a villa in Naivasha too?C'mon be honest, he isnt paid that much is he?
This statement of yours smacks of profound ignorance
Let people hanker down and work hard
My friend their are millions of Kenyans who work their fingers to the bone and have little to show for it, I recall Kibaki saying the very same thing when he came into power (seems it didnt apply to him and his MPs).Kenya ceased to be a meritocracy a long time ago.
I have nothing against wealth and people having it.But what I am against is when people get it at the expense of others and when bottlenecks are set up 2 make it hard 4 others to get it.
But I am eagerly awaiting your post about Kenya's middle class (or what is left of it!)
@ Msanii
Thank you for pointing that out, isnt it annoying when someone overlooks something like that and jumps?

Shiroh said...

I have heard about that lodge. I am only amazed at the grandeur. Anyway Aco i am so with you on this comes some people are so filthy rich and yet others are dying of hunger.
Distribute the damn wealth?

Ringera earning 1M Plus Ksh,how many teachers can that salary pay??? and nurses??
talk of distribution

Shiroh said...

Francis Atwoli on his salary can afford to drive a mercedes in Nairobi, liver large there and own a villa in Naivasha too?

You have hit the nail on the head

KD said...

@ Joe
Even if they have suffered as a result of financial mismanagement, they are the thesis and antithesis of the same ... dwelling on the past is not something I love to do, but please go back with me to the first bill that was passed by this parliament ...

To quote Thinker on the same, these MPs do not earn their salaries - how many of them contribute to the perpetual lack of quorum?

Another thing ... the youth is to blame. Last time I heard the figures, 17 million youth who were eligible voters do not have voters cards. I think, being in the democratic state that is our homeland, that is a matter of choice - and 17 million of us have chosen to watch from the sidelines and complain.

Joseph Walking said...

You know this reminds me of a post done by Irena sometime ago that pictured the sleek cars that government minister’s rod in. Implying that Hassan was starving in Garissa because of those cars . And like then I dismissed the standard story as propaganda of the highest order .Nobody has looted public coffers to buy this houses why do we assume that atwoli (whatever his name is) has only one source of income. Many members of parliament and public office holders have successful business empires well before they ventured into parliament.

The issue here should not be about money or houses I have always said and will continue to say our MPs should earn the salaries we give them and cabinet ministers should be paid. the issue here is are we getting our monies worth .And we all know we are not getting that not because of the office perks but because of the people we elect as leaders. Lets address the real issue here .mps deserve to be paid and live large but they also need to deliver on what we elect them to do .nothing less nothing more. To expect Saitoti and Uhuru to live in Buru Buru is a dream we should all forget.

LAND: land has always been a sensitive issue in Kenya. Yes a lot of land has been acquired by suspect means but that is not to say that all of the land acquired is stolen. Many Kenyan families that were well educated at independence acquired land because they were well informed enough to apply for AFC (agricultural finance cop) loans .At the market rates of that time and with the coffee boom that followed many of those loans were paid off and more land was acquired. To be honest yes my larger extended family does own land in Three provinces Some of which is not necessary being used but none of them stole the said land .Yes it is sad that many Kenyans don’t have land but lying to them that those who own the land stole it from them is An even bigger injustice in my eyes.

I know people really feel this issues but the next time you go vote especially with all this LDP and ODM rubbish going on remember the Rutos, Ntimamas and Odingas you are going to vote for who have no economic policies to talk of apart from buses and tsunamis. Let me remind you that if it is revolution and violence people want .it is the middle class that keeps calling for it that suffers. the redistribution of property just like in zim will creat a mess what we need to do is uplift the masses not redistribute wealth.

Acolyte said...

@ shiroh
I concur that there is a serious problem in the way wealth is distributed around out country.
@ kd
I do feel you on the fact that not as many youth who vote do not.Voter apathy and people not takeing an active part in the passing of public policy has a contributing role to play in the way things are today.
@ Joe
Sometimes I think you are on a different page then everyone else.One main theme of Irena's post was the overspending of public money on sleek limos.There is nothing wrong with Ministers having nice cars but do you think it is neccesary for each MP to have 2 or more government cars and for the government to buy the new models each year when there is nothing wrong with last years?Do you think that it is right for public money to be used to buy more and more cars each year?The fact is that the government has shown itself to be a poor steward of the people's money.
Back to where I was.In response to you, should MPs and Ministers be paid well?Yes but should they earn as much as they do?No!Kenyan legislators are amongst the world's best paid and for the manhours they do they are the world's best paid.
I do agree that many of our legislators have secondary sources of income but the question is are they all above board?It is well known that many of them use their positions to bolster their own personal business which goes against government regulations.That is why many of them do not declare their wealth or if they do so they significantly under declare it.
When it comes to land first of all Kenya has pathetic land policies.I had a friend who worked at the Lands Ministry and opened his own brokerage.A title deed in Kenya is hardly worth the paper it is printed on.You also seem not to realise that some Kenyan families reaped the fruits of their collaboration with the British by being given large tracts of land while those who fought for our freedom were left landless.You seem to forget that many indigenous Kenyans were divested of their land by the British and when they left the land did not go back to its rightful owners but instead to "educated" people who applies for loans.The fact is that land distribution after the British left was a mess and we are still feeling it's impact today and instead of justifying you and other people's rights to own thousands of acres you should be thinking of ways the land can be spread in a just and equitable way (and no I am not talking about doing it Zim style - maybe the gvt buying large idle tracts and giving it to the landless natives to farm on).
I do agree that people need to examine politicians policies before voting them in but at the end of the day even though you have already decided who I will vote for.One thing you will always note is that even in my political posts I never mention personalities.I will vote for anyone as long as they can move Kenya forward.
The whole crux of my post is not against the fact that people have wealth but the fact that it should be distributed in the most equal way possible.Remember that a society is only as strong as its' weakest link.we are priviledged to be where we are today but let us not forget those who are not.

Joseph Walking said...

Aco when you put it like that then dialogue can begin. Kenyan can only change if people seat down and critically ponder issues .your suggestion about the land totally makes sense but land policies that are effective enough to change the current state can only be formulated by thinkers not hooligans and tribal activists.

On the issue of government expenditure I have always said that Kenya is a very rich country .Our wealth both in natural recourses and human resources out strips those even in the western world. Therefore our mps can be the best paid in the world and the government can buy fancy cars .If we get the right people in power we can have those fancy cars nice vacation homes in Naivasha and a Kenyan public whose needs and wants are met . The two idea are not mutually exclusive, but can be achieved together

PS not privilaged just in touch with reality

Acolyte said...

@ Joe
Well at least cool heads prevailed on this one.I do agree that more often then not proffesional policy makers are over ruled and to deadly effect.Look at the ban on smoking that Madam Ngilu tried to enact.I saw it going nowhere and I was right.If she had involved all the stakeholders and tried to do it in a timely manner it could have been done.
Yes Kenya is rich that I do not refuse and with the correct distribution everyone can have something, as opposed to Swaziland where the King lives large and the masses starve.
If there was a way to separate politicking and tribalism from public policy then we could grow in leaps and bounds.

AK said...

Kenya could be wealthy, in theory.

At the moment, our Mps do not deserve the salaries they get simply because they haven't put in the hard work that they should. In other words, they are being paid for inadequate work, if not for free.

The general infrastructure is still in shambles, the land question has not been sorted, our graduates still walk the streets jobless for years on end.

Not yet Uhuru!

acolyte said...

@ ak
Your comment is so self contained that there is nothing I can add to it!There is still a long way to go!

Shiroh said...

Like AK i sing not yet Uhuru!!!

acolyte said...

@ shiroh
Seems that choir is getting bigger and bigger!

Anonymous said...

kenyans and their obsession w/ land very agrarian mentality. kenya will noot move forward until we can separate the masses from the land. kyuks are rich coz they were divorced from the land by the british. so they adapted to the monetray economy. in westernwhere im from people are obsesses about their plots they have title deeds but their obsession with land makes the risk averse. in america nobody owns land yet its the richest country - some will argue that kenya is an agrarian economy. im not sure coz if it were how come the acreage under horticulture is less tha 10,000 (im not sure)and makes almost half a billion dollars while the in the rest of the country everyone has mazie in their backyard and we can feed ourselves - aaargh land distribution/ wealth disparity complainst make me sick coz everyone wnats to redistribute.

you know the purpose of a welfare system is to pay the un productive not to waste productive resources - if i was presidnet i would offer most rural folks welfare to migrate to the cities and let real farmers till the land.

acolyte said...

@ Anonymus
Seems great minds think alike!I was going to do a post on this.Kenyans seem to think that possesion of land equals wealth when if it is not being developed or in an area that is expanding it will not rise in value and so makes no money in the meanwhile.Plus the land laws in Kenya are a mess add that to the corruption (even banks are no longer taking title deeds!) and you know that land is a risky business.
If a plan was put up to harness the land and resources to the max that is when welfare would be viable but till that plan comes up it would just be a free meal for the people.
Wonderful comment!Come again!

Anonymous said...

@ acolyte
kenyans are not very rational when dealing with land. in africa it seems we are very determined to reverse the agrarian revolution -- africa is the only place in the world where societies have gone from large scale production(economies of scale) to the opposite. - lets not even talk about the saga of the tea picking machines

in kakamega if u try to buy land somebody will tell you that he cant sell he's land coz he needs a place to be buried when dies!!

i think setting up a well though out welfare system is the solution to alot of our problems - i think it will help move resources from the unproductive parts of the economy to the productive. welfare takes many forms.

i will give u iraq as an example. this iraqis have always been nuts thugs and suciders only thing is that saddam kept them occupied if u had no job u were in the military kept busy 'digging holes' - a lesson he learnt from u didnt have time to disrupt the pipelines and rob people - basically u keep the ordianry person fat damn and happy.

the welfare system here in the US is designed for the same thing is it more costly to society to pay the unemployed/untalented and unemployed talented to do nothing or have them rob and kill u

acolyte said...

@ Anonymous
Yes Kenyans views of land have been slow to change since the colonial days.
I do feel you on the owning of land for land's sake.My Kenyan room mate who wasn't a nairobian says when he makes some money that one of the first things he will do is to buy a "plot".
I do feel that welfare can only be viable when there are as many avenues as possible for making a living given so that welfare is a last resort for those who are disabled,old or for some reason jsut cannot get a job.
I think apart from the military jobs, the iron fist with which he ruled the nation made crime a last resort.
Since the states has placed a cap on welfare (4 years max)many folk have had to get off their asses and get jobs (many dead end but jobs none the less!)
Poverty among the uneducated is increasing as the manufacturing jobs they worked at are now leaving the states in major numbers going to Asia.