By MUTHONI THANG’WA
Someone sent me a YouTube link to a Kenyan documentary titled Unfinished Business. It claims to highlight the plight of the Kenya community that has produced three presidents — the Kikuyu.
The movie is made by human rights activists in an effort to highlight “what it means to be poor in the land of presidents”.
The documentary in many ways depicts the death of civil society in Kenya and the rise of one-track-minded individuals who would want to encourage Kenyans to continue wallowing in self-pity, instead of rising up and finding ways to make life better for themselves and their children.
They aim to make politicians look bad (they do not need any help), but a nagging question at the back of my mind is how they make life better for the people they parade and supposedly work with on a day-to-day basis.
A SPECIAL POVERTY
First, thinking of central Kenya as the land of presidents is just sad. Yes, it has produced three out of four presidents, but that does not mean that presidents are endemic to Central.
The Rift Valley has produced a president and any other parts of this country can and will produce presidents in future.
Trying to perpetuate a notion, even unconsciously, that there are lands that produce presidents who are politicians anyway is just not sensible.
A slum is depicted in a screenshot from the documentary film Unfinished Business. PHOTO: INFORMACTION KENYA
Alleging that there is a special brand of poverty in areas that have produced presidents is also an aberration. Poverty has the same face, regardless of a society’s contribution to politics, the economy, science or the arts, not just nationally, but globally.
Poor people sleep in polythene bags in central Kenya, in New York and in Tokyo. That may not be suitable to put in a documentary that wants to show how unique a particular people’s situation is.
NOT MORE CULPABLE
The documentary has touched on serious issues that affect people in Central, which might be the genesis of some of the problems that the country is experiencing.
These include internally displaced parts of the population, the question of land as a scarce resource that the majority still views as a basic factor of production, and the million-dollar question of idle youth. But then again, these are not issues unique to Central Kenya.
To be fair and civil, Uhuru Kenyatta did not distribute land after independence. Three presidents before him either created or ignored the mess. The fact that one of those presidents was his father does not make him more culpable than any other president.
Young men play cards in this screenshot from the documentary film Unfinished Business. PHOTO: INFORMACTION KENYA
The use of a narrator with a pronounced and distinct linguistic interference from the mother tongue is quite brave. I can only admire this.
If Kenyans can parade on TV with fake American accents, there’s no reason why a documentary cannot be made in a natural Kikuyu or other language accent.
All things being equal, the documentary is very good as it highlights the ignorance that Kenyans continue to supposedly enjoy in their little enclaves.
It highlights the fact that they still expect politicians to sort out their problems and that government will provide schools, water and sanitation at will. It also shows just how degenerate the society has become.
Claiming that you can kill for money is not a state of poverty, but just a criminal mind at work, and decorating it as a criminal mind from a region that has produced three presidents does not help at all.
Most interestingly, the so-called civil society has seemingly lost focus or needs to think harder to make matters emotive. Politicians today can no longer create the repulsive public spectacle that the politician of yore created.
The current lot consists of college graduates; savvy, well-dressed and well presented, just like civil society itself.
In a sad turn of events for civil society, the only way to create a spectacle now is to parade members of the public.
Documentary film Unfinished Business: