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Why money is everything in Kenya

Money is everything in Kenya. If you have money, you have everything you need. If you don’t have it, you have nothing and are nothing.

To see the truth of this, consider what money gives you in this country.

First, money gives you financial freedom. It gives you the ability to cut the chains that enslave most people, and not be forced to do work that you hate, or spend time in the service of others. So far, so good, because money does that for you in most societies.

Second, money gives you material comfort. It frees you from the discomforts and indignities of poverty, and allows you to be at relative ease in what you wear, what you eat and where you sleep. It allows you to experience the joys of some of the finer things. Again, enjoying life a little is a legitimate by-product of having money, no problem there.

Things get a little more complicated in the reasons yet to come, however. In Kenya money gives you power, too. Not just a bit, you understand, but pretty much untrammelled power. We have seen rich people override the law and overturn the judicial system. Money always brings power in its wake, even in more mature societies, but here money can buy you unbelievable exemptions from regulation.

So those are three reasons. Here’s a fourth. Money begets status, too. Not just a bit of acclaim, but rank adoration. If you’re rich, a horde of fawning, gasping sycophants will follow you around everywhere in this land, applaud your every word and ululate at your every pronouncement. And in your own community, if you have a pile of money you will be the unquestioned hero whose every word is golden.

We’re not done. Money will buy you romance, sex and even marriage with top people. Having money makes you the catch of catches in this society. Good values, good character, good personality – all fade in the face of the mighty moolah. The true trophy to land in the marital stakes is the person of magnificent means.

Five big-hitting reasons why money rules, then. But wait, we aren’t done. Money also buys you spiritual uplift. Or rather, it buys you the blessings and benedictions of churches and temples, pastors and priests. Prayers and services will be twisted to suit you, the rich dude, who will even be asked to address the congregation of lesser mortals. Why, even amongst the clerics themselves, those who have bling and glitter get the mass following.

Seventh and last: the way in which you make this money doesn’t matter at all in Kenya. Stealing, plundering, extorting or even killing your way to riches does not attract the universal opprobrium it would in a half-decent society. Here, it really doesn’t matter if you’ve stolen from orphans or diverted food from the starving or deceived the sick. If you’ve got the money to show, we will look away from the methods you used and feel no distaste, just naked envy.

So there you are. Money matters everywhere, sure, but here it’s the only thing that matters. It opens every other conceivable door, after all.

Lest you think this is a good thing (and it is testament to how far we have fallen that many of you will think it is), let me point this out: because money buys everything, the market has no room for other currencies. You’re a person of knowledge? Worthless, unless it makes you big money. You’re decent and compassionate, you say? Show us your bank balance, or take a hike.

How sad it is that we have become so shallow and so small, and so dominated by the greediest and most venal amongst us. So keep clapping for the big spenders, but know that this won’t end well.

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