Dear Mr. President,
My name is Wilson Manyuira. Deep in me, I feel that you are totally out of touch with the reality. You are clueless about what is bedevilling the youths of Central — and Kenya at large — who overwhelmingly voted for you in the false belief and hope that you would understand us.
My journey was never rosy, President Kenyatta, and were it not for the stout lady I called mum, I wouldn’t have made it to Kenyatta University. My mama Hellen Wanja is now deceased. Were she to wake up right now, she would be dismayed that her youngest son, whom she chose to educate with loans and hardships, is now a career farmhand, a lorry loader, mtu wa mkono — and when things are not good to the people who provide him with manual jobs, he begs and almost steals… right, left and centre.
This was not the vision she had for me, Mr. President. It wasn’t the one I had for myself either. I had always wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor or something meaningful in life. Mama wanted that too. I was certain I was on the right path when I joined University and I was determined to be an important person who would take water to my rural village in Kieni constituency and help the farmers irrigate their crops. You see, consistent rains are a foreign thing here. But now I beg them for food and work.
The man I have turned into has filled me with despair, anger, loneliness, desperation and even depression. There are many times that I have thought of taking my own life. It is the easiest way to escape my desolation.
I am writing this in bitterness, Mr President, not because I expect you to bring food to my table, but because you have made so many wrong decisions that have killed our hearts and souls completely.
When I cleared university in 2015, my hopes were high that I would get employment. I had hoped this would kick start my career journey and enable me to help my family as well as pay taxes. But instead, you froze government recruitment in public sector and instead refocused the money to projects that have now become the cash cow of a few people.
I tried finding a job in the private sector but then again, the economy was too harsh for the private businesses and they were retrenching existing staff members instead of ‘entrenching’ new employees.
After a 1000+ job applications, I decided to try a hand in the hotel business, but my cafe in ‘mlango kubwa’ for trivial though obvious reasons never broke even, let alone sustain me.
The banks couldn’t lend me capital, as I had defaulted on a mobile loan during my job seeking days. Even if I hadn’t, I was informed, it was now too risky to lend cash to SMEs thanks to the capping of interest rates. They now preferred lending to your government.
Lest I forget, I had found jobless youths in Mlango Kubwa, whom for lack of an income generating activity, had decide to provide ‘protection services’ to the business and poor university students living here, as well as kuokota takataka—I have never known where they took them to date.
As theirs was not a job for the faint hearted—your police, who never provided protection in the first place, were always hot on our heels—they employed mean tactics to make us pay the levy; I remember one day they put sewage filth into one of my sufurias at the café in front of my customers (who incidentally also owed protection levies for their houses), as I had failed to pay the monthly levy.
My hotel business went with the sewage filth and I had to go back to mucatha. I could no longer sustain myself in the city.
Like I had held high hopes when we elected you, I felt farming was my ticket to riches now, and I ‘entered’ my grandfather’s 3 acre farmer with gusto, ready to provide the Nairobians I left behind with fresh vegetables, potatoes and everything else that doesn’t grow on top of buildings.
In the first season, I was disappointed by rains. I got a watering machine in the second season and my cabbages grew into bouncing big cabbages that filled my heart with happiness. I had broken the ice ceiling, or so I believed. The market (or was it the Brokers?) broke my heart!
The first buyer gave me Sh. 7 per cabbage. The second one, 1 week later, came with Sh. 5, while the third and last one said he could only pay me Sh. 3,500 for the more than 6,000 cabbages I had planted.
I had expected Sh. 80,000. I had used Sh. 48,000(mostly loans from friends, family and financial enterprises). I got Sh. 3,500. Yes, you got it right; I took the cash from the last buyer and gave Sh. 200 to the broker who brought him.
With Sh, 3,300 and a lot of angst in my heart, my next stop was to Shiru’s keg pub in my village. It was my first time to drink. I had heard that alcohol ‘kills’ stress.
A new chapter was opened in my life. And I liked it. At least the drunkards were carnal and cheerful; they didn’t seem to give a fuck about anything. Plus they knew I had sold cabbages so they called me Munene (Mkubwa) and I felt really good. In the morning, I had Sh. 20 in my pocket but I didn’t regret. How can you regret when you have spent money on someone who calls you Munene. Indeed a new sad chapter of my life, that I still regret to date, was opened on that day.
Needless to say Mr President, My village now has more graduates than non-graduates. We are the ones who unblock toilets here. We load and unload cement on vehicles. Yes, we the graduates.
We sweep pubs so that we can get to ‘unlock’ the lock. We smoke weed so that we can go and carry heavy logs that have been stolen from the Aberdare forest.
We pray that cars get stuck in the mud so that we can charge to ‘unstuck’ them. But Mr. President, we ask for pay first for obvious reasons (the bugger in the car may speed off after we ‘unstuck’ him or he won’t give us anything if we are unable to).
A fellow graduate villager (together with others) recently gang raped the mad man of our village. Reason, no girl—I repeat no girl— can look at him let alone stand or talk to him because ‘niithecire na dawa cia kurebia e university’ (He used cocaine while at university).
Now, the only bright spot in my life is my two girls Wanja and Hellen. I sometimes think of throwing a stone into the police station. Or at you! But then I remember My Angel Wanja is only 5 months old. And she needs her papa. And so I hang on, hoping that my tomorrow shall be better than today, if only you can lead the country better, and unstuck us from the jobless mess we are in today.