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Opinion & Analysis

Our cities need selfless city fathers to ensure growth

A good friend told me that every great city has its fathers. They are the men and women that watch out for their cities. They defend the city’s dwellers from extortion and demand that the government provide protection and services to its citizens. They are the watchmen of the city, ensuring that the banks do not extort borrowers and that every working man gets the wage that they deserve.

In the history of London, for example, the city’s fathers protected the London from the excesses of King Edward and his friends during the late 1200s. The King had and his friends had taken advantage of the people of London to a point that they exhausted every avenue to impose unfair taxes on the people.

King Edward’s government had so oppressed the people of London that he had set up a prison where anyone who was suspected of not being loyal to the King or his men was detained. This included anyone who objected to extortion by the king’s men or anyone who tried to hold a meeting in a public place.

The King’s soldiers usually waylaid such people and arrested them at night, charging them with loitering or prostitution after which they would be thrown into the Tun prison in Cornhill.

Eight of the city’s fathers, the Aldermen, led Londoners to revolt against the king. They demanded that the monarchy restore to the city its freedom and right to self governance. The aldermen led the city dwellers to the Tun prison, broke it and freed all the prisoners sending a message to King Edward that the city of London was withdrawing its consent to be governed by him and his men. In order to gain freedom from the King, the fathers took a loan of 2,000 marks from seven Italian companies to pay the king off with £1,266. On the 17th April 1298, King Edward restored London to self-rule and withdrew his mayor and all his men.

City fathers should not be rich men. In fact, the main qualification to hold such a position is that one is an ordinary working man, able to relate to the ordinary mwananchi. They should not be able to afford private healthcare or treatment abroad, because this would make them removed from the pain of Kenyans who are currently unable to access healthcare due to the doctor’s strike.

All their children must have or be attending public schools. They should be passionate about correcting the imbalances on the government wage bill that is depriving ordinary Kenyans the resources required to pay policemen, doctors, nurses, lecturers and others the wages they deserve; and the amenities that the hard taxes they pay should enable them.

Our city fathers need to come from a crop entirely untainted by corruption and greed. As a measure of this, they should be willing to take half the current pay, reject unnecessary benefits such as committee sitting allowances, grants and loans that contribute to the bloated wage bill that the country can no longer afford.

Should you fit this criteria, kindly consider making an application. Kenyans are counting on you to take back our cities and restore their birth right.

Neema is a communications specialist based in Nairobi

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