Mobile Version

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poverty is a State of Mind

 For those of you that have a thin skin, please do not go on and read this article and if you do, do not try to confront me on the streets. I have been on a winning tour with Jackie Chan. Also please pardon the headline for its lack of political correctness and benign overlap with  right wing conservative ideology. Despite the similarity of our messages as far as semantics go, the insights and nuances for this article are derived from real life observations of a local.

 I am not not in anyway trying to suggest Somalis are lazy in general. At least that's not true for our brethren across border but one might point to their well oiled pockets for their entrepreneurial success. The same cannot be said of Somali Kenyans.

 Take the case of Garissa. We have perennial droughts, famine and endemic tribal clashes. The city imports about 40% of its food needs from Nairobi  and has a significant number of its masses masquerading as refugees in the camps. This has created an atmosphere of ingrained dependency and lack of self worth.
Then there are our brethren from Somalia who have taken the whole issues of dependence a couple notches higher. They rely on remittances from family members in the west and sit around until the end of the month for the next supply of cash to come. As a society we derive our self worth not from who we are but what clan we are, what relatives we have in high places and what towns are purportedly ours.
  Vegetables are seasonal. Tomatoes and kales are unavailable or expensive between august-march (you hear me Kenyan entrepreneurs). Our road networks are under developed and trillions of gallons of water from the Tana River drain-by everyday while our people starve.
The Red cross and other NGOs have been trying to convince our people to take up subsistence farming but the rate of penetrations has been low among Somalis. Other communities especially those from madogo have accepted the call to independence far better than we have.

Everytime I go to 'Suuq Mugdi' (the dark market), the deplorable health and sanitary conditions turn my stomach. Here are hundreds of people selling and buying products in an environment that is filthy and don't seem bothered. Everyone delegates the cleaning to the other. The lack of collective communal action has left us a couple decades behind the rest of the country. Why don't we just drain the pools of sewage water and fill up the mini lakes with soil. That will not cost more than 10 000 shillings instead of waiting for infantile and irresponsible Councillors.

I can no longer try to rationalize this as marginalization by the government while ignoring the serious under performance of the locals.  I believe that to a large extent poverty and underdevelopment is a state of mind. If we are to see any substantial progress in our lives, we have to stop trafficking in the notion that its the duty of the governments to run our lives and shower us with gifts.


  1. Well said. We have failed to do anything as a community. Always waiting for others to do things for us.

  2. I cant agree more. Where government fails in its responsibilities is the execution and implementation of the laws of the land. Suuq Mugdi has been legitimized by both the local and central government with full watch of the public health department. Ask the mothers to produce council receipts and you realize they pay their part of the bargain. In any civil society law and order has to be enforced by the government.

  3. I find most of the stuff said here apt and sound. As an influential social commentator, you should be put forward solutions and beat the debe, so to say, for self reliance.

    As a sister, I am very proud of what you are doing. Keep up the good work.

  4. I'm glad someone is pointing out an issue that is very thorny and controversial. Its always to look at yourself and critique your performance before you look to others. The common african problem of shifting blame has led to the stagnation of this continent.
    Its true the government has failed to serve not only the people of Nep but even those of other regions but their failure should not doom us to a life of misery and circle of depravation. As Kenyans lets strap the laces of boots and get to work.
    Garissa is blessed with an ethnically homogenous people and a great diaspora that has been investing in the city rapidly.
    I know this because I work for PGH and have observed the real estate bubble the city is going thorugh. The planning is not so great though. It does not matter how many beautiful buildings a place has if its not built to a plan. getting in services such as sewage collection, running water and electricity becomes a problem. Evacuations incase of an accident-God forbid- is almost impossible.

    its my sincere belief that this city is destined for greatness and its people will reap their toil.

    Beneah Kyalo

  5. People have got to man up and determine their very own destinies without seeking the help of nanny state. I agree with almost everything you and the commentors have said.


  7. Thank you all for your comments. I'm overwhelmed by your positive reaction to this entry.

    God Bless our beloved city and all its residents.

  8. we are the cause of the problem..period!