Occupy Parliament, and the Fallacy of Kenya’s Education System

by kenyantaboo

“First come I; my name is Jowett.

There’s no knowledge, but I know it.

I am the Master of this college;

What I don’t know isn’t knowledge.”

(Beeching, late 1870s)

Yesterday, while the National Assembly was discussing the National Youth Council Bill, one MP, in supporting the Bill, is quoted as saying; “The young people who came to (demonstrate in) Parliament were very idle. (This is why) they need the Youth Fund to be engaged.”

That statement is as misleading as it is malicious. Granted, MPs are the least favourite Kenyans at the moment; lowly ranked their kinship antecedents have been traced to the filth of pigsties. Kenya’s moral evolution first discovery has generated intense heat no one wants to be associated with our lawmakers anymore. It understandable, therefore, that MPs would give back as much (hate) as they get, preferring to hit the youths below the belt, where it hurts the most; a reality check sufferers and hustlers would rather not be reminded of.

“I love intellectual activism that’s why I don’t respond to the many text from pals asking me to join demonstrations, let buffoons handle it.”

However, when a young member of the Kenyan nation, herself a champion of selfless altruism and gender equality, posts the above tweet, you realize the blame shifts from the insensitive, ill-intentioned MPs to the Kenyan reality, a product of cultural socialization handed down successive generations. Questions have been asked why Kenya cannot pull another ‘Arab Spring’, a movement largely attributed to the mobilization potential of the new age Social Media.  Many theories have been fronted and intensively discussed, but one that has largely not been explored is the limiting nature of information sharing among the Kenyan people.

Information is power, and, with power, the world will be at your feet. That is what we were told while growing up. We, therefore, buried our heads in books scratching for information. What we weren’t told is that information is doctored truth; tailored to suit those who control this elusive power we were earnestly searching for.

“Early in life, when most impressionable, we leave our families daily and go to school where we are oriented, together with our peer-mates, to respect and learn from those who are older, bigger, stronger, louder, and more dominant than we are. For many this means sitting in rows, at desks, facing an adult who looks down, and who rewards and punishes according to how well rote is repeated and routines remembered……Such experience conditions behavior and attitudes in later life. The empty vessels are not just filled; they are magnetized. The force field of the teacher orients them for the world beyond the classroom. They learn to face, fear and follow authority.” – pg. 61

Robert Chambers: Whose Reality Counts? Putting the First Last

The Kenyan education system is largely borrowed from our colonial experience. The independence struggle had two categories of people; the freethinkers, self-styled revolutionists and subdued collaborators, coward protectionists. The collaborators ate crumbs from the white man’s table, had the rare opportunity to clean rifles and fire them at fellow black men, get paid while other black men slaved in farms. When the white man bowed to pressure from the oppressed, the collaborators inherited the white man’s instruments of power, accumulated wealth and maintained the status quo.

The self-styled revolutionaries, on the other hand, were the freethinkers. They led an ideological revolution that sought to emancipate the black man from white man’s slavery. They fought a good fight, and won the contest, albeit with massive collateral damage. One mistake they made, though, was the exclusion of the collaborators in their fight. And so, when the white man left, the black man collaborator saw the black man revolutionary as an enemy, not a friend. The status quo, therefore, designed government operations to favour those who were in and manipulate, monitor those who were out. This included developing an academic curriculum that sanitized corrupt, bloodthirsty presidents while demonizing freethinking revolutionaries labeling them ‘dissidents’.

So, we grew up knowing that standing up for your right meant disrespecting authority, an unfathomable act of disgrace which led to expulsion from school, and, ending up a societal misfit. Up to date, university students ‘rioting’ for a better learning environment are treated as goons, expelled from campus, and blacklisted by the Kenya Police. They are the enemies of state every time an act of crime is reported they’re the first on the list of prime suspects.

The alternative is to continue producing academic robots, in a garbage-in-garbage-out act of killing creative, innovative and fresh freethinkers. Occupy Parliament was a litmus test of the strides we’ve made to this end. Sadly enough, the winding list of academic cabbages keep obstructing the path for a new, talent-driven, merit-based Kenya.