The common denominator for men and women of my generation, born before 1980, was that no one was above a good beating. Our parents were from the school of hard knocks. They swore by the words, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child”. I grew knowing my parents wrath came from a place of good intentions. The punishment was structured and one even got to fetch the cane that would be used to inflict pain and deliver a lesson. When disciplining was over, we were reminded that the world would not be so kind. That is what good parenting entailed.
Misgivings have been expressed about the registration of the Team Mafisi Foundation by Non Governmental Board Chief executive Fazul Mahamed. I thought it was a joke. It did not help that the Mafisi foundation is led by a comedian known as Jaymo Ule Msee, who made his name doing parodies on Nairobi’s dating scene. The registration of Team Mafisi foundation at a time when Human Rights organisations are facing harassment and threat of deregistration, is to say the least, another puzzling Kenyan peculiarity. The bounds of absurdity have no limits in Kenya.
If you have no idea what Team Mafisi is, here is the condensed version. Fisi is the Kiswahili word for the spotted hyena, probably Africa’s most vilified animal after the warthog. The term gained traction with social media memes, to make fun of men caught ogling at shapely women in public places. It was harmless chiding in the beginning but unlike fleeting social media trends, it morphed into a mafisi sacco, a group of self identified ooglers who made the hyena their mascot and lust their binding creed. Now there is a legit foundation called Mafisi.
The odd thing about the 2017 election season was the absence of protest songs, given the state affairs in the country. We are in the midst of serious social strife, a depressed economy, toxic tribalism, corruption on steroids, institutional failure and extra judicial killings just to get started. It cannot be too much to expect a bit more reflection in the popular music of the day.
In other news, the countrywide nurses strike crossed the 120 day mark and did not make a bleep on the headlines. With the country in the throes of an election tussle, I suspect the nurses strike will sneak right past the 150 day mark without so much as a trending hashtag. It would take a nuke war in the Korean peninsula to divert the national psyche off the election drama. The nation is binge watching political news and all else can wait, even health care.
Who cares about the caregivers? The truth is that privilege and sheer good luck spares many from the trauma of healthcare in a public hospital, where one can get a real grasp of the ongoing public health crisis. Nairobians talk about the nurse’s strike in the same way we talk about an unexpected jam during the off peak hours on Mombasa road. “Ah, bloody hell!” We treat the news as a mild irritation, something beyond one’s control like a growing mound of garbage in a neighbourhood you do not live in but have to bear the stench on your daily commute to work.
A typical Nairobian has a guy, who knows a guy, with the latest locational coordinates of the NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority) alcoblow checks. The sensible thing when you go out drinking is to call an uber. We all know the refrain. Do not drink and drink then drive.
But who follows their own great advice on the slippery slope of a typical heavy night. The evening starts out innocently. One polite single evening beer after work, to let the traffic ease up at the regular. Shortly, 9pm arrives like a thief in the night. One reasons they might as well stay for the news headlines. 30 minutes later, suffering from the effects of a depressing news cycle, a last drink is called for to aide the process of extracting sense from the rabid noise that passes for political discourse these days. Indeed, the more things change in Nairobi, the more they become normalised.