Tuesday, 16 April 2013

An Open Letter To Ms/Mr/Mrs Politician

Dear Ms/Mr/Mrs Politician,

It is my sincere hope that this letter finds you in good health and that you are keeping well since you were elected by the people of Kenya on the 4th of March 2013. Oh my, forgive my manners... Allow me to congratulate on your election and/or nomination... CONGRATULATIONS! 

You have been in the news lately, a bit too much if I may add... and for all the wrong reasons. There is a certain rule about "new kids on the block or new kids in a class." It states that the new kid should not be all up in the faces of other people. The new kid is always expected to sit back and relax; get used to the new environment; learn the ropes first. Survival for the fittest my friend, survival for the fittest.

Now that we have that covered, kindly allow me to introduce myself, after all I did line up from 6:05 a.m to 3:00 p.m. waiting to vote for you (and others). My name is Jackie. I am a Kenyan aged (x+y) years old who believes a lady should only reveal her age on a medical form. In 2010, Kenyans passed a new constitution - I am sure you have heard about that document, the one that transferred power to the PEOPLE of KENYA. Under this constitution we the People of Kenya also consented to the formation of independent bodies and institutions. Allow me to digress at this juncture and take you back to class. 

The word independent is a word which according to the internet (yes, I am from the digital generation) means not influenced or controlled by others; self governing... Where was I again? Aah, yes, we, the People of Kenya consented to the formation of various independent bodies and that includes the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

I hear that you are disgruntled about the salaries the commission proposed for you. Allow me to enlighten you... Did you know the SRC went round the entire country collecting the views of Kenyans on what your new salaries should be? Well, now you know. Did you also know that it is MY taxes that ensure you get paid? Well, now you know.

I understand you find your new salaries shameful and insulting!?! Yes? OK. And you have justified this because of the many responsibilities and obligations that come with SERVING the public. Yes? Well, I do agree, public service can be oh-so-demanding and overwhelming.

Allow me to tell you a short story:

I am an urbanite....  A former ruralite (is there such a word?) turned urbanite. I have a job in Nairobi; the job pays me enough to go to work and buy one or two things for myself and for your information, I literally mean one OR two things. It is NEVER both because if I buy both then I have bought THREE things and I am not paid enough to paid THREE things; just one OR two. Back home, I am the SI unit of success. I am blessed because both my parents are alive, and so are their parents and their parents parents. Also ALL my siblings are alive and so are my aunts and uncles. Yes, my extended family is ALIVE and WELL. Oh my, I forgot, the village that raised me is alive - since I came to Nairobi, only two people have died.

You see back home, they do not care that I pay YOUR salary. Between you and I, I suspect that they do not know, if they knew they would make more demands of me. I would be invited to more funeral meetings, I would contribute a bit more money for school fees for my siblings and my neighbours' grand kids. I would pay my parents gardener more. Thank God they do not know. Ignorance is not so bad after all. Anyway, though they do not care, they are mindful of the reality that I must TRY to feed myself a decent meal daily. Also, they are mindful of the reality that I have bills to pay; especially electricity bills which for unknown reasons go up during the dry season as well as the rainy season... That right there is the real kitendawili, don't you think? 

My village, family and friends are also mindful of the fact that I need to get to work by public transport (sadly, I cannot afford a car  - yet - plus fuel is so expensive nowadays) and that every so often the tout will increase my fare as and when he pleases. They understand that the tout always steals a little from me... so does mama mboga who increases the price of dhania and onions but never the quantities. This is the story of my life... My everyday life.

But you could not be bothered about my life, my responsibilities and my obligations....

Have you ever wondered where the other half of the money (assuming you contribute one half) to foot burial expenses or school fees for the child in your constituency and/or county comes from? Allow me to enlighten you again... It comes from people like me. Ordinary Kenyans who have a sense of community. You Sir and Madam are not the only "burdened" people in Kenya. In fact I suspect you would not be in a position to recognize burden even if it hit you in the face... I am just saying.

Enough with the rhetoric. Let us get some things straight:
1) I HIRED YOU - YOU came to ME  and asked ME to vote for YOU. I did not come to YOU. Therefore in essence YOU VOLUNTEERED/OFFERED YOURSELF to serve ME!
4) YOU CANNOT DISBAND THE SRC. Read the Constitution. Only KENYANS can do that through a referendum
5) Ksh. 535,000,  Ksh. 640,000 AND Ksh. 740,927 IS ENOUGH to pay back your mortgage and car loan. I am sure you wonder how? Well, for starters, your interest rate is significantly lower than mine and your payback period longer than mine. Secondly, I believe you get a car allowance? Yes? Good.

Now, please shut the hell up and get to work and while at it you should try something we the Kenyan people do every single time... It is called living within your means. I am sure you are not familiar with that concept so allow me to enlighten you (for the umpteenth time)... Living within your means means living within your means! For example, if your salary can only allow you to buy a 3 bed-room house on a half acre of land then what that means is that you buy a 3 bed-room house on a half acre of land. Living within your means has everything to do with loving what you get if you are not lucky enough to get what you love. OK? Good.

Lastly, I heard you saying that SRC released your new salary perks late right? Right. Fair enough. Bottom line here is this... You knew what your salary would be before the elections. You had two choices, to either step down or to step down. Usually that is what ordinary Kenyans do. When they interview for a job and they are unhappy with the pay and all negotiations fail, they turn down the job offer. Life is really that simple. You had your choices but lacked the balls to make them.

As I conclude please remember the following:
3) TOW THE GODDAMN LINE AND GET TO WORK... My niece needs to visit your office to request for money to attend campus.
4) Stop acting like brats and thank God for your blessings, some of us would have to sell our body parts to make a fraction of your salary.

Thank you.

Yours Truly,
A Kenyan.

P.s. Two things:

a) Riding a bike to work is not only good exercise but also very good for our environment. I believe you are familiar with the concept of climate change, yes? Good.
b) Please, please, please do NOT attempt to test our (the Kenyan people) patience... It thinned out with the last parliament. Humility is a virtue. Buy some...Rumour has it you earn 535,000!