Oh, social media, how you keep breaking my heart. You keep snitching. I woke up unusually early yesterday because my cousin needed help with her project. I will have no one close to me pay Ksh 20,000 to have someone throw words together for them. We had a lengthy talk, exchanged emails and gossiped (you do it too drop the act). And now she will write her own project. I am the best, I know. When I was about to hang up she told me she had seen a RIP on Instagram and proceeded to ask me if it was true? I did not know, though I sorta expected it. Everyone did.

A few minutes later a friend called me, we had a chat on things and he ended up telling me that so and so passed on. For a few minutes, I sat motionless mourning the death of my friend. The loss of such a young life. All my mind could register was the ksh 5 billion that someone stole from the health docket or whatever it is (where there is smoke there is fire, you can share the audit reports all you want but something is cooking). Have you thought about all the other corruption schemes wrecking havoc in our country? Unsolved mysteries. The billions of shillings that have been unaccounted for?

It occurred to me if I were to get sick. Very, very sick. It might probably become a terminal illness because it might be diagnosed a little late. I do not have millions stashed away somewhere. My parents don’t either. All our monies are working because we always want to make an extra coin. I am not a celebrity (though that doesn’t seem to help, remember Miss Achieng’ Abura?) I belong to the population that will most likely die from something huge like that. I am just a middle-class Kenyan whose funds will run out within say two years of being in and out of hospitals (and that’s a long time). I will not ask my father to sell a property if it looks too grim (I am a realist). Only 1% of Kenyans can afford to ship themselves abroad for specialized treatment, 3% in case you feel like I have left you out.

We Kenyans work hard, very hard, the cars on our roads are proof that we work hard. Cars are not a measure of wealth but they are objects we all easily relate with. They might be on loan but someone is repaying the loan every end month. That is money that is working. We have very few opportunities in Kenya but when we get them we give our best, at least I know I do. The only thing we need to ice our cake is good governance. Good working systems and we will have a Finland here in Kenya.

My dad told me around 2013, “If you vote X and X you people will struggle. It will take you a very long time to repair the damage they will cause. I was a young man during X kinsman ruling and he was ruthless. Do not vote for X. Tell your friends not to.” He went ahead and renewed most of his documents (drivers licence et al) for extended periods of time so that he has less contact with the government of the day. I might call my father a prophet because everything he says happens but if we don’t vote for good leaders we are doomed. Do not ask me who are good leaders. I don’t know, I really do not know. This is because he also said with the current crop of politicians we were going to struggle for a while. “You will need to pray for a good leader Kendi, because as it is I don’t see any”, he said.

I would like to believe I will not die if I get a serious illness. But who is to say I will not? Can you look me in the eye and tell me I will not? Can you tell me in the next five years we will have a government that is working? Fighting corruption? Creating jobs for young people? Making sure our hospitals are in tiptop condition? Can you? I am a party pooper and I know but the moment we rip off the black cloth covering our eyes then we will be able to see that maybe the problem begins with us the voters. That maybe we need to vote, and in voting maybe we need to vote for the leader who listens. The leader who works.

My friend is dead and gone. In a few months, we will move on. We will not forget not even for a second, I know I will not. We will be thinking she died, just like that, but how else do people die? They just die. Such a young life. Such a short life. Such a strong girl. Such a beauty. Such a brilliant life. She died of stomach cancer that was diagnosed too late. Maybe my friend’s death can help me remember to make a positive change every day. Maybe it can help us all remember to be more empathetic. Not to look for a photo moment like Shebesh. That was really low Shebesh. If you are looking for a PR opportunity talk to creative people. We see so many around here and you’ll make a difference while doing your PR. Maybe my friend’s death can help us all look beyond our skin colour, beyond our social class, beyond our age difference, beyond our tribe.

It can remind us all that a community that works together is a community that thrives. I will always have a question: if her illness was diagnosed earlier would she be alive today? If our systems were working well maybe she would have gotten her passport to go visit a destination as a tourist and not because she needed it to go to a hospital.
Or maybe we just need to sell Kenya and each of us gets a share. Those that want to leave can go and those that have the guts to remain can remain and build a new country. Yes, you cringed at that, me too because it is not an option. We need to stop voting for demagogues and soapbox orators because we are selling our country to the cheapest bidder.