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A Broken System: ‘Kenya Before The Thieves Showed Up’

A few weeks ago, I met a chap who is my agemate but he comes from a rich family where the Dad is a very senior government official. To this day they are wealthy.

I took time to give him a history of Kenya and how we had most facilities working. I told him that while we are forced to celebrate some overpriced SGR, we indeed had the old railway that connected East Africa big time, let alone Kenya.

I told him we even had a line to Nyanyuki to help ferry beef cattle for export via Konza and Athi River holding ground. Kenya was famous for live cattle export which is not easy to do.

We even had a railway line from Voi to Taveta .
We even had KBS in Mombasa to Taveta .
We had steamers on Lake Victoria. Families in Kisumu had rela’s in Bukoba , Entebbe or Mwanza.

Your cargo gets to Kisumu from Mombasa, you load it onto water steamer to send it across to Bukoba.
Trade was huge . We had a proper working port in Kisumu .

Growing up in Marsabit, I never saw a railway line, but I knew there was a line that connected Nyahururu and Nakuru .

Drawing railways connection through out Kenya was part of our syllabus. The same for road connections throughout East Africa, thanks to the Easter Holiday – East African Safari Rally.

We even had a working & very successful airline owned by Kenya Uganda and Tanzania called East African Airways (EAA) before greed and one mad Idi Amin Dada, a self declared General of all generals made us to divorce .

EU came to benchmark with East Africa on how an economic block can work .

We had working garment industries namely Rivatex, Kicomi, and Mountex . We had our own meat canning factory, the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC).

Almost all household goods were manufactured in Kenya . We even assembled Sanyo radios, and labelled them Made in Kenya.

My friend was left in awe . I was speaking to him like a bearded grey haired 90 years sage . Well while I went on to ordinary school and managed to learn about our real history, my friend went to one of those ” fine” schools . Maybe they didn’t get the opportunity to learn these things . I have no idea, but I also loved History and Geography.

For us to drool over a single line by the Chinese is really not a miracle . We had this and many more, but looks like very few of us know about it or even remember it.

The Health system worked, where all hospitals were fully kitted and original medicine from Germany, Italy, etc were prescribed.

We never had all these useless private health centres where majority are owned by government employed doctors selling drugs meant for public hospitals. An NHIF healthcare that is used to steal and share our contributions between government official and doctors. Folks, private health centres is a clear sign of a broken system. It is NOT development.

Government schools all worked . I had the same books at Marsabit Primary school just like a child at Moi Avenue Primary school in Nairobi. We had no private schools all claiming to be academies, save for community schools like Oshwal and Aga Khan . Again I repeat, these many private schools proliferating is a clear sign of a broken system. It is NOT development.

Rwanda is doing the opposite . Fix goverment owned schools and the so called academies are shutting down .

In late 80’s, 90% of Nairobi had piped water , we drank to our fill straight from the tap and we were promised by year 2000 every home would have piped water. Nairobi, in 2019, is currently getting water through trucks and Mikokotenis.

Folks, I can go on and on. We may have been poor but the government of the day gave us dignity . Basic healthcare, education , water was in plenty. When basics are in place security takes care of itself.

I am sharing this to educate younger folks that Kenya was indeed a force to reckon with before the real thieves set in and made nonsense of a working system . Well, I still remain optimistic that we can get our groove back but maybe not in my lifetime, but I will continue to do what I can in my small way.
Now you know and I wish you all a happy nostalgic weekend .

As always I choose to remain an optimist.

By Mohammed Hersi

Mombasa.

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