Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Being back home, and the Referendum

It feels great to be back home after two years spent in Wenzhou, China.
Seems like nothing much has changed around here since I left. I’m just glad culture shock isn’t such a big deal after you’ve gone through it more than once. Yeah, right, I know….it’s China – which in some circles is still considered “developing” – but if you’ve been there recently, you’d know just how far ahead of the game China is. My favourite city, Shanghai, literally gives New York a run for its money.

Strangest thing I had happen to me this week was that I had to make a call to a Chinese teacher to sort some stuff out at school. I guess in the course of that conversation I must have dropped a few Chinese words or two. In any case, soon as I was done with the call, a Kenyan right next to me broke out in fluent Chinese (tongue-in-cheek) asking me whether I spoke Chinese. I’d have to meet, it was the most random place I ever expected to have a conversation in Chinese, but it shows me that perhaps there are more of us out there than I usually assume, and mayhaps it was a good decision to go to China.

Anyways, the gist of my entry is about the referendum that’s sets Kenyans abuzz with such euphoria lately. That people are so excited about something this meagre is partly confusing and a little embarrassing to me personally. Let me qualify my statement with the fact that recently a companion described me as being very “dismissive”.
A bit harsh of a classification I think (but I guess I’ll accept that characterization nonetheless).

Lord knows this country needs a good constitution and people have been neglected in the past. In that same vein of thought, a Good constitution would safeguard all the rights of the citizen, correct?
(At this point, Batman’s nemesis – the Joker – would poignantly ask “Then why so sad?”)

I’m not focusing on what the constitution says, good as it may be; rather, I’m focusing on the actors who are meant to implement the constitution’s requirements. As was commonly said in times past, “80% of the previous constitution was good; 20% was bad”
What we witnessed, however, was blatant snubbing of even the good part of that very same constitution. Bottom line is that without changing the “actors” or their “mindsets”, things are still bound to go down the same road no matter what constitution we choose.

In a related event, people have been complaining of our educational system, 8-4-4, claiming that it demands too much of our students, saddles them with too much technical knowledge. I would think the same of this referendum; for people to expect the common man to browse through tonnes of legal lingo (in their own free time for no fee), and come to the right decision is expecting too much. To help us out, they could at least have whittled the thing down to the 20% which is actually CONTENTIOUS.

And here is the reason why I am embarrassed – our legislators are actually paid tonnes of money to work out such matters. And ideally, this is boring work, which we pay them to do, so that we don’t have to deal with it (We salute a long list of professionals who we pay to deal with our mundane tasks, so that we don’t have to: Lawyers, Accountants, Auditors, Historians, Anthropologists, Geologists, etc)
Far be it from the MPs to even attempt to understand what they are doing, but they drum up a whole circus of festivities, trying to excite the common man about things mundane, and gain political mileage at the same time. And, adding insult to injury, they peddle their confusion to the gullible masses, so that as the Lord would say,
“…they take away the keys to knowledge; themselves not entering, and hindering those who wish to enter (the kingdom)…”

Most embarrassing of all is how they even got the church embroiled in this whole mess. I’m Catholic and fully pro-life, but the stupidity contained in the Church’s arguments leaves me shocked. As a future medical professional who’s done his bit on philosophy and ethics of care-giving, and reading the same constitution, I don’t know where they came up with the idea that the new constitution allows for anyone in an allied medical field (even physiotherapy or even Morgue attendants) to prescribe an abortion.

I’m embarrassed as a Christian, a future medic and as a human being that such lies are being peddled by “respectable” religious personalities. If they know they are lying, God will deal with them. If they are honestly ignorant, it only further proves the point that they are dabbling in matters for which they are not properly equipped; it obviously isn’t their calling.

So I’ll just sit out this little referendum, and hope people keep their heads despite everything. The proof is in the pudding for me – the implementation.
Shame on you legislators for failing your country yet again; for stirring up emotions where none were required at all; for gross dereliction of duty and for misleading your people yet again.

May God and this great land of Kenya forgive you for your failure.

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