Two weeks ago I took my mother to see a gastroentologist who seems to be well known. We had an appointment for 4 p.m. and since I wanted to be punctual I made sure we were at the office a few minutes before time. We were given and service number ‘3’ so we were hopeful that we would see the doctor soon. It was not until 8:45 p.m. that the doctor strolled in and proceeded to lock himself inside his office while he had a 20 minute dinner. He did not apologize for his tardiness and seemed oblivious to the fact that we had been waiting for almost 6 hours to see him. His service was even slower, we did not enter his office until about 9:30 p.m. and even then he had no apology to offer. To make things worse he yawned almost 5 times in the 10 minutes we were at his office, and he could not seem to find
the cholesterol chart in order to advice my mother accordingly.
Why do I bring up this story? Because it suddenly occurred to me that I was the only person in that waiting room who saw anything wrong in the office. The doctor was running three offices at the same time and was overworked and overwhelmed; but no one saw anything wrong. Suddenly I realized that if I did not speak up, nobody ever would. I made sure the office knew exactly how inconvenienced I was and told them that in future, they might lose customers based on this disservice. But I also realized that the reason Kenya is not moving forward at the pace it should be is because the ordinary Kenyan does not think that they can change anything. So here are a few pointer – which I think can also be applied elsewhere in Africa
If something is not going the way it should, speak up. Do not be afraid to get someone fired for misconduct and don’t be afraid to be the lone ranger. I have found that when I mention to bank managers that their tellers are AWOL, then the said employees suddenly appear and I spend less time at the bank. Use suggestion boxes, and report to appropriate officers. Don’t do it in malice and don’t be aggravated, just state the facts and politely ask the appropriate person to do something about it.
Get Educated and Engage in Politics
It is amazing how many Kenyans today still do not properly understand how the new government wil work in 2013. We are sort of resigned to the fact that it will be here and we cannot stop it. However, we need more than that. Every Kenyan should start by making plans to register as a voter, then get educated about the government. The IEBC website is a good place to start. In addition, learn about the people you are voting for…if we really want change in the Kenyan government, then every Kenyan will have to commit to making a change, not just wishing the politicians made a change
Think Beyond Yourself
If there is anything that was left by previous political regimes and strongly lingers in the mind of Kenyans, it is the attitude of “getting my own”. Many people still think of political positions, work appointment and leadership opportunities as a chance for them or their tribe or family to advance. What about the rest? Kenya is made up of more than a family and a tribe. In order for us to move on we must think beyond what we want as individuals but thing about what Kenya wants as a country. Without this change, even the next parliament we vote in will continue to “bless” themselves with unbelievable salaries and benefits while starving Kenyans use their last morsel to pay for it.
The last ingredient is patience. Nothing changes overnight. If we persist in seeking change and hold on then change is going to come. Looking back at Kenya in the 1990s and now, the changes that have taken place are tremendous. In the same vein some of the things that have remained the same are shocking. For example, it is disappointing that we still have food insecurity and that we still vote for politicians based on their tribal affiliations or based on how much money they give us prior to the elections. However, the lack of progress in some areas does not mean that some things will never change. The only constant thing is change.
It Starts with You
Lastly I think every Kenyan should remember that it is in their power to change whatever it is that they do not like about their lives and surroundings. If your boss is harassing you report them. If the trash is not being picked up outside your house, report it. If someone litters the street shame them. If your local MP is not working effectively make sure you do not vote them back into power. The question is what step will each one of us take to set these changes in motion?