Hustler spiel a threat to Kenya - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 30 January 2021

Hustler spiel a threat to Kenya


The hustler versus dynasty narrative has had me stumped for quite some time now and I am no closer to understanding what it is all about. Could someone kindly explain why billionaires are identifying themselves as hustlers while dynasts are busy trying to sound as though they always cared for the poor?

Deputy President William Ruto seems to have crafted a “movement” that clearly resonates with a huge number of Kenyans, but whether it will prove to be a winner is less clear, given that this hustler spiel, unless managed well, may become extremely dangerous for the country. 

What is even more worrisome is that the major players in this theatre may not really give a hoot what happens to this country after they have fought using the poor as cannon fodder.

Two of them are only interested in the presidency while the third is interested in his legacy and believes the Building Bridges Initiative is the right vehicle. What is most troubling is to hear common people talk as though some kind of political and economic panacea is in the offing.

They forget that the high-pitched demagoguery they hear will not make an iota of difference to their lives.

A comparison with recent American history may appear far-fetched, but those who have been following the truncated political career of one Donald J. Trump know that for almost five years, he convinced millions of Americans that he was the long-awaited messiah who would rescue his country from being swamped by radical socialists, immigrants, uppity blacks, Latinos, Muslims, climate change activists, and, generally, the rest of the world. How he did it remains a mystery, but it seems he tapped into deeply held fears that could only find expression in outlandish supremacist attitudes.

Ugly scenes 

Now that he is no longer president, it is emerging that he accomplished very little of what he set out to do. Certainly, the very poor in the US did not fare any better, though the very rich got handsome tax-breaks. Yet, when it came to Mr Trump’s attempt to overturn an election he clearly lost, it is the poor and middle class extremists he turned to. None of the Trump billionaires were at Capitol Hill with the mob that tried to lynch lawmakers. Most retreated to their comfort zones to watch the developments on TV.

For us here in Kenya, there is a real danger of the already dispossessed being led by the nose by wily politicians through sound-bytes that do not address our real problem—the yawning gap between the very rich and the destitute. Nobody has come up with a strategy on how to address this inequity and, seemingly, very few of the “hustlers” really care.

It is not enough to talk of ousting the dynasties; people want to know what is being planned for them so they can escape the execrable squalor that seems to be their lot.

If the ugly scenes witnessed in Githurai on Wednesday when ODM leader Raila Odinga toured the area are a harbinger of things to come, then next year’s campaign period will not be pretty. Poor people will again be used by politicians to fight each other through fiery speeches meant to advance individual career progression.

The hired thugs pelting Mr Odinga’s motorcade did not have a sensible reason, and the loudmouth politicians inciting them were just practising primitive politics. Had there been a real confrontation, they would have been nowhere in sight.

Class warfare

The gap between rich and poor is neither confined to this country nor to any period in history or to any ideology. All over the world, there are those who create wealth legitimately, those who steal, and those who remain poor all their lives.

Believe me, the so-called hustlers are hardly interested in making anyone wealthy like themselves. At the same time, it is cheeky of those preaching BBI to dismiss the hustler narrative as a hoax. It may well be, but what else is on offer at a time when many Kenyans believe their rulers are to blame for their economic distress?

As the philosopher Aristotle observed, poverty is the parent of revolution. So when people who hop all over the country in pricey choppers go around glorifying poverty and blaming their erstwhile comrades-in-arms for it, they are unwittingly sowing the seeds of their own destruction, for when you launch class warfare, it will, in due course, consume you as well. History is awash with accounts of revolutions eating their own children, and what the “Hustler Nation” leaders are doing is to foment a revolution.

Maybe, in due course, it may be necessary to seek a lasting solution to a problem that wiser heads have grappled with for centuries. To quote another philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “…governments should actively intervene in the economy to abolish poverty and prevent the accrual of too much wealth in the hands of too few men”.

Today, this may sound simplistic, but certainly, our brand of capitalism “without a heart” is not working, so maybe it is time to explore some kind of State intervention.

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