This piece is in response to the article by one of the world's wealthiest and most influential personalities -- Virgin Group founder and businessman Sir Richard Branson. The piece by the British entrepreneur titled "Why I Love Kenya" was essentially a 459-word ad for Sir Branson's Mahali Mzuri luxury safari camp in Maasai Mara, Kenya.
"Mahali Mzuri" is Swahili for "nice place."
Full Disclosure: I have not stayed at Sir Branson's "nice place" though going by the professionally taken pictures posted on the equally professional and sleek and slick website, the place looks divine.
The article, basically an infomercial by Mr. Branson for his investment is definitely in keeping with the path charted by one Michael Jordan of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Chicago Bulls. His Airness or Michael "MJ" Jordan was famously quoted as saying that "Republicans buy sneakers too."
In an article titled "Hot Air: The Case Against Michael Jordan," writer Michael Crawley writes that the line was Mr. Jordan's response to a request for a "single quote or a brief photo op" by the Tar Heel Blue deity from then-Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt. The year was 1990 and Mr. Gantt, the city of Charlotte's first black mayor, was involved in a tight and racially-tinged race for the North Carolina Senate seat against the right-wing segregationist Republican incumbent Jesse Helms.
With power comes responsibility and at the height of his fame and popularity, Michael Jordan, unlike LeBron James, refused to get involved in a moment wrought with import and significance -- the possible defeat of a racist white politician by a black man, in America's South no less! The Cleveland Cavalier's LeBron James, on the other hand, vocalized his position on social and political issues here in America; the most recent being his position against police brutality (against mostly African-American youth).
Kenya is at a cross-road. The country is yet to fully recover from the trauma and angst caused by the post-election violence of 2007 even though the crimes-against-humanity case against one of the principals and its current president Mr. Kenyatta was recently dismissed by the International Criminal Courts.
Corruption is a back with a ferociousness and blatancy that makes the scandals of yesteryears tame by comparison. Not a day goes by without a major corruption scandal erupting and engulfing one of the main institutions and branches of the country's government: From the Office of the President all the way to law enforcement -- via the legislature and those they represent -- WanaKenya Halisi -- the country has become one big "chicken eating" orgy. And for American readers, there is absolutely nothing stereotypical about Kenyans "eating chicken."
While I fully understand and appreciate the adage that there is a time and place for everything, I also believe that the time has come and gone for Kenya and her "friends" to confront and deal with, once and for all, the ravages of corruption and impunity.
Mr. Branson does a disservice to the "wonderful people" of the "beautiful country" when he writes such a vacuous piece about a country that is less than a decade removed from violence that consumed 1200+ of its citizens while displacing over half a million and forever changing how Kenyans perceive and interact with one another.
By refusing to speak out against the slow but certain extinction of the country's pachyderms and rhinos, both whose tusks and horns are treasured by Kenya's newest BFF China, it is just a matter of time before Sir Branson's vision of a "landscape... alive with a majestic kingdom of animals... hundreds of lions, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes and wildebeest" becomes just that -- a mirage.
Mr. Branson: There is nothing "cleansing" about the "experience" of the millions of Kenyans who are led by people who see public service, not as an honorable calling, but as an opportunity to eat "chicken."
Richard, if I may, this "wonderful" Kenyan does not want you to support and enable, by your silence, leaders who are selfish and act with an impunity Kenya, the "beautiful country," has endured since her independence from your own Britain!
Your "love" for the "beautiful country's" "wonderful people" should compel you to speak out against corruption at every turn.
True "love" for Kenya would not allow you to tolerate behavior that threatens the long-term viability of that "nice place."