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Aptitude test for aspiring Kenyan leaders

Feb 13, 2005 Humour, Sunday Nation

Do you dream of being a leader in Kenya? Do you want to be a cabinet minister, and see that flamboyant flag fluttering on your bonnet? Perhaps a permanent secretary, in total control of thousands of minions? Do you want to see Kenyans gape at you in open-mouthed awe as you pass by? Do you wish to arrive in your constituency in a helicopter, scattering the natives as you land? Do you want people to hang on your every word, no matter what infantile gibberish you spout? Do you want to never be held accountable for anything you say or do?

Who wouldn’t? If there is a heaven on earth, leadership in Kenya is it. But we have bad news for you. There’s a long list of applicants, and very few top posts to fill. The good news is that a major restructuring is rumoured to be looming, so some vacancies are likely to appear. In its newfound emphasis on merit-based recruitment and transparency, the government has announced a simple aptitude test to be taken by all applicants for top leadership positions. This short test assesses all the qualities and competencies needed by the holders of exalted office. The Sunday Nation managed to get its hands on an advance copy, and we publish the test exclusively in today’s edition.

1. Which statement below best summarises your level of academic achievement?
a. A good bachelor’s degree from a reputable local university.
b. Two undergraduate degrees, several post-graduate diplomas and a doctorate in subjects such as Cane Husbandry, or the Morphology of Esoteric Linguistic Structures, obtained from internationally renowned institutions in the Bahamas, Tajikistan, the Outer Hebrides, etc.
c. Expelled in Standard Six for persistent delinquency.

2. To which political party do you belong?
a. The party that has stood by the same principles since independence, and which now has the most credible policies to attack poverty in the country.
b. The party that represents my tribe.
c. Whichever party is currently in power, naturally.

3. Which political figure do you most admire?
a. Nelson Mandela
b. Silvio Berlusconi
c. Johnny Walker

4. Where do your children live?
a. In their home village, where they will work to bring development.
b. In Nairobi, because that’s where the action (and all the money) is.
c. In Los Angeles, Sydney, Toronto and Johannesburg, because this country has no future.

5. What, in your view, would be the most desirable signs of success in your ministry, department or parastatal?
a. Hard-working staff serving the needs of wananchi.
b. Well-appointed offices and a fleet of the best limousines.
c. An organisation teeming with all the unemployable dimwits from my home district.

6. What is your political/economic doctrine?
a. Social democracy – a system that gives untrammelled freedoms and incentives to all individuals to engage with a modern economy, within a framework of human dignity and basic rights.
b. Kenyan capitalism – those that have everything shall receive tax waivers, those that have something shall watch it trickle upwards, those that have nothing shall be asked to work harder and pay taxes on time.
c. Ati?

7. What is this country’s biggest problem?
a. Poverty.
b. Lack of economic growth.
c. Busybodies and activists in the media and civil society who refuse point-blank to acknowledge the government’s remarkable efforts and achievements in fighting corruption in a country that was once the most corrupt in the world and is now teaching the world how to design an anti-corruption strategy.

8. What is the single most important goal you will set yourself as a leader in this country?
a. To reduce the number of people living on less than a dollar a day by half within five years.
b. To increase my personal fortune by five times every year for five years.
c. To ensure that Kenya hosts the Winter Olympics, a Formula One Championship, and the European Champions’ League final at Kasarani within five years.

9. What will your approach to economic planning be?
a. To design realistic plans that utilise local inputs and prioritise immediate growth opportunities, and require a period of austerity and constrained spending.
b. To design grandiose recovery strategies requiring several hundred billion dollars that will be funded by development partners and Bill Gates.
c. To open a series of numbered accounts in offshore tax havens in the name of phantom firms.

10. What do you expect to be your catchphrase when responding to awkward questions from the media?
a. “Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. As the minister in charge of this area, I am accountable to the people of Kenya. I apologise for any shortcomings in our work. I will conduct very thorough investigations into the matter. In exactly three days’ time I will convene a press conference to announce what actions are being taken.”
b. “I am not aware.”
c. “This is an orchestrated attempt at character assassination by my political enemies and Satan-worshippers funded by foreign masters who have lost lucrative contracts due to my diligence.”

11. When a foreign envoy attacks the government, how will you respond?
a. By arranging a private meeting with the person concerned to understand the situation, and then making a sober response in measured terms.
b. By characterising it as a racist and neo-colonialist attack on the innocent children of Kenya.
c. By depicting the envoy as a drunkard who is nursing a grudge against the country because he was jilted by a Kenyan woman.

12. How many days do you expect to spend out of the country in the course of your ministerial duties every month?
a. Zero – this country’s problems are homegrown and require locally generated solutions. This will take all of my focused attention. I will have no time to travel.
b. 5 to 10. There is a lot to learn from the world – why reinvent the wheel? Travel broadens the mind.
c. 25 to 30. First-class travel, the best hotels, plus thousands of dollars in per diems? Are you kidding? Shopping capitals of the world, here I come (with Mrs. Leader in tow, of course).

Scoring: Give yourself 1 point for every ‘a’ answer, 3 points for every ‘b’ and 5 points for every ‘c’.

Evaluation:

12 – 23 points: Who do you think you are, Mwalimu Nyerere? Even Tanzania wouldn’t appoint you a leader these days. Your application will be sent to Kamiti to be used for lavatorial purposes by high net worth prisoners.
24 – 49 points: You show a good deal of promise. However, you still lack some of the critical acumen and skills demanded by a modern Kenyan leader. You should consider spending a period of time in private business. Suitable enterprises include a law partnership, the matatu industry or international arms dealerships.
50+ points: Step forward, Bwana Mkubwa! Your deportment is magisterial, your wisdom inconsequential. You are free from all ethics and devoid of content. Expect to receive a call soon on your mobile phone!

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