NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2 – Dignitaries arrived at the historic Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi ahead of the Labour Day fete Wednesday in show of opulence.
Fuel guzzlers after the other snaked through the grounds and were strategically parked within the expansive park.
And as they drove in, hundreds of Kenyans snaked their way there on foot – some workers and others who are jobless like university graduate Joshua Munyao who walked in and sat in the scorching sun.
The agenda was clear: they wanted to hear how the government plans to reduce the high cost of living, fight corruption, create job opportunities for millions of jobless youths among other pertinent issues the country is facing.
But call it a paradox of life, the fuel guzzlers that ferried most of the government officials among the over 50 legislators are fuelled from the public coffers.
For a minute, one would have thought Uhuru Park had been turned into a showroom.
“It was all talk without substance,” Meshack Auma would later dismiss the whole affair after Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani finished reading President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech.
Sentiments echoed by those who spoke to Capital FM News.
At this point, there was no goodbye as elected leaders and trade union top officials were swiftly guided by their respective bodyguards to their waiting vehicles.
The next stop was at a top city hotel, where the dignitaries had their lunch.
Those who attended watched at a distance while others rushed to the nearest media camera for a chance to vent.
“It is a very disappointing day for all of us,” a visibly frustrated Walter Masawa told Capital FM News.
He had expected to hear the trade union officials push the Government a little bit harder more so on addressing the unemployment rate and cost of living.
“It was all old talk that we are used to,” he said.
“The overall expectation of nearly all Kenyan citizens was to hear from our leaders to at least make life easier for us. Unfortunately, that was not demonstrated in any way, both in speech and action.”
According to Masawa, the ‘celebrations’ drew the two distinct worlds of the haves and have nots -Kenyan style.
President Kenyatta in 2009 when he served as a Finance Minister, directed all government officials to abandon their fuel guzzlers.
The targeted vehicles were those with a fuel capacity of more than 1800cc.
That remains in the archives.
-What politicians said-
Every politician who took up to the podium tried to say what would resonate with the crowd, which was majorly youthful.
Often, a section of the crowd would shout “unga or take the MPs home.”
But it was MP Joshua Kutuny the mastery of sheng language that endeared himself to the crowd, which was largely calm.
He spoke of what they understood most – a Kenyan worker earning a meagre salary and has to pay taxes to the government, which might end up in someone’s pocket.
“Ni noma si noma? (Is it bad or it is not?),” he posed, to an almost unison response “ni noma (it’s bad).”
But that was just that – “old talk” according to those who Capital FM News.
And his message, MP Kutuny said was directed to “those who go to work at the Industrial Area, Kayole…”
MP Mishi Mboko said she supports the war on graft, “to ensure our economy grows and our youths get job opportunities. This is the time to come out strongly and say the truth without fear.”
But what is the truth, opulence in the face of hardship?