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Songs that aptly describe Kenya’s good, bad and ugly

The Nicholas Harmonies group sings a Christmas carol in Nakuru: With the sort of bad language and juvenile behaviour we are seeing from our politicians, this is definitely not the season of goodwill that Christmas is supposed to represent. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH
The Nicholas Harmonies group sings a Christmas carol in Nakuru: With the sort of bad language and juvenile behaviour we are seeing from our politicians, this is definitely not the season of goodwill that Christmas is supposed to represent. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH 

It would seem that we are ending the year in the same way that we started it — with lots of political cacophony.

With the sort of bad language and juvenile behaviour we are seeing from our politicians, this is definitely not the season of goodwill that Christmas is supposed to represent.

Increasingly we appear to be hurtling headlong into a violent August 2017 election that could hurt Kenyans — now denied civic and voter education — far more than our sniping politicians.

This yuletide season, however, should be a period of relaxation and a time of song and prayer. So, rather than do a boring fiscal-economic review of the past year, let’s recall the good, the bad and the ugly stuff of 2016, and find unusual songs to describe these things.

My first choice is Tina Turner’s Simply the Best. We may say lots of things about Safaricom’s quality of service, and customer service, yet undeniably, this “platform” firm continues to exceed all expectations — revenue, revenue mix, product and service range, profitability, economic value added, social responsibility, the lot.

The Institute of Economic Affairs chief executive, Kwame Owino, once offered the following perspective. If there were 74 other firms like Safaricom in Kenya, then nobody else would need to pay tax.

Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

My next choice is Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. There are many candidates here, ranging from government-linked Kenya Airways, Uchumi and Mumias, to those three banks — Imperial, Dubai and Chase.

This might be a bit harsh for the former, but sometimes when you’re flat on your back, the only way you can look is up.

We go local with my the next choice — Les Wanyika’s Sina Makosa. Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about the Eurobond (Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me might have been another choice).

We seem to have run into a blank on this one. Many suspect there’s something wrong but we can’t quite prove it without a doubt. Neither, it seems, can the auditor-general.

Gidi Gidi and Maji Maji’s memorable hit Unbwogable is next.

I’m not sure if I should attribute this song to corruption, or the “umbwogable” corruption cartels that seem to have us tied in knots. Think of this as an unforgettable tune for an unforgettable year of corruption. Like it or not, this will be a campaign issue in 2017.

It would seem rather odd to link the standard gauge railway (SGR) with Abba’s Money, Money Money, but it seems that every time we talk about it, it’s going to cost more.

More to electrify the Mombasa-Nairobi stretch. More to develop the Nairobi-Naivasha phase. And even more to stretch the line to Kisumu and Malaba, while building a sparkling new port in Mombasa.

By my last estimates, we are at Sh1 trillion and counting. What about banks and their now-controlled interest rate regime?

Let’s give them Sauti Sol’s Unconditionally Bae.

To quote, “they all need love; they all need affection” as they prepare for a tough operating environment in electoral 2017. Despite the scary audit reports we have recently read about in the Press, our devolution effort is slowly but surely “learning how to walk”.

Most interesting for me has been the unyielding unity between our 47 governors, particularly through the Council of Governors.

It is almost as if they are dancing to the words of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston’s smash hit Something in Common.

This is a pretty random and unordered list, so anything goes. Like Roger’s Computer Love to describe the shenanigans around our award-winning Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).

Peaceful season

Think around this line, “Could it be your password I see on my computer screen?” Enough said.

Let’s not forget the efforts of Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his team in first promising to eliminate exam cheating (he promised this in 2015) and actually eliminating it in 2016. That’s straight out of Barry White’s Practice What You Preach playbook.

Or the deal that ensures that, for the first time in a while, we are not heading into an election with a teachers’ strike looming. If only we could get the same deal done for doctors and other medical staff, then we would all have reason to Smile as gospel artiste Kirk Franklin suggests.

A few months back, Agriculture Cabinet secretary Willy Bett promised to do a Kool and the Gang and make agriculture Fresh for young people.

It would be great to see how far he has gone with this, especially with recent warnings around the perennial problems of drought and hunger in certain parts of Kenya.

I was going to keep it local, until I remembered this was the year of Brexit and Trump, as well as zero-hours contracts, part-time labour and the concierge economy (think Uber).

These days we talk about the elite, the salariat (salarymen), the proficians (think, gig economy), the old working class (proletariat) and now a precariat. In this new normal, Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself seems quite appropriate.

But back to our warring politicians, who keep taking us to the brink and then pulling back at the last.

The first thought that always comes to mind is the Team Mafisi anthem, but that’s probably harsh.

Why can’t we get Jubilee and Cord MPs to hold hands and sing a Christmas carol like Silent Night? Then we can all enjoy this peaceful season of rest, song and prayers.

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