Sickened by the alarming rate of suicide in Kenya, I have decided to talk to potential victims. Stories of Kenyans who got fed up with their situation in life and decided to take their own lives have become common. Only a few cases especially those involving the poor are reported in the media. However, a recent high profile case of suicide involving a local radio comedian Joseph Mochere Arandi alia Okebiro Oâ€™Mose here in Nairobi is instructive.
After leaving high school, circa mid 90s, Okebiro had dreams that he hoped would materialize in his beloved Kenya. Job search took him to several towns. Unable to land any, and incapable of starting a decent business of his own, he soon started to understand endless ills that afflicted his beloved nation: Injustice, corruption, hypocrisy, nepotism and scarcity of everything but misery.
May be some more education would bail him out, he thought to himself. So he returned to school and did a certificate course from one of the technical colleges in Kisii County.
But still, no job was forthcoming. Not for him, any route that leads to crime, nevertheless. In desperation, but with his integrity intact, Okebiro picked up lowly jobs like working for a security company as a night guard in Nairobi. Thanks to his funniness and wizardry in comedy, he landed a part-time job at one of the local radio stations Egesa fm where he moonlighted in the morning as a comedian after the night shift as a watchman.
Regrettably, even though he worked for Egesa Radio for close to a lustrum, no employment confirmation was forthcoming from his thankless employer. Despite attracting a huge audience with his comic wizardry, the pay was still peanuts. The poor man suffered because he had no godfather or godmother to hold his hand. Okebiro is said to have lamented about the meager salary but no one gave a damn. Head of Egesa Radio madam Nana Angel, is the lady who was supposed to assist him but elected to remain mum as Okebiro suffered.
-Ironically, the Nana Angel who calls herself â€śdivaâ€ť attended Okebiroâ€™s burial and lied to the multitude that she was paying Okebiro a decent salary. What man earning a good salary, in his right mind can work as a watchman in the cold. To add insult to injury, live in a single-roomed house? May the gods our our land deal with that girl. â€“
In his late thirties, Okebiro Oâ€™Mose remained tall, dark and handsome. He had to seek a wife and raise kids on his meager salary. As the pressure of family responsibilities weighed heavily on him, Okebiro suffered depression. There was no health insurance for him since he was a casual employee. He had no enough money to manage his condition. Here, it is everyone for himself. Due to stress, he started developing suicidal thoughts. Okebiro allegedly tied a rope in a rafter, the rope that ended his journey in the early hours of Monday, September 1, 2018, one month to his 42nd birthday.
He leaves behind a wife, two kids (a beautiful girl and a handsome boy) siblings, relations and thousands of fans like me. He leaves behind the agony of living and working in an unjust nation with thankless beings â€“ a nation where people worship money and despise great people who are less privileged. Above all, Okebiro leaves behind a tale shared by all unlucky Kenyans.
It is sad that Okebiro had to expire this way. However, there are morals that we can pick from his death. Even when things are getting unbearably tough, the next course of action must not be tying a rope to the rafter of a house or the branch of a tree and hang.
The number of vulnerable Kenyans appears to be increasing. Nowadays it is no longer just the old, the young and the destitute. Youths without jobs are wasting away in the towns. Unable to afford a decent meal or buy medicines for their illnesses, many have been dying quietly. When a man takes his life because he does not know where his next meal will come from, or cannot stand seeing members of his family crying because of hunger, it is understandable but not excusable.
Only cowards think of committing suicide.
Even when threatened by imminent or extreme poverty, sit down and think twice before taking a step that will mess up your family. Nobody knows what the future holds. I am told that a human being can survive without eating or drinking for 40 days. So, before committing suicide, it is advisable to wait and see because may be help will come the 39th day. After all, it is more honourable to starve to death than take your own life.
If you take your own life because of poverty, you are foolish. It is paramount to note that rich people are victims too. They pretend that all is well yet they die in installments. The rich people you see around flaunting big cars, big mansions and lavish lifestyles are not as wealthy as they appear. Today you may think they are moneyed but find them tomorrow begging for coins in the streets. Why? Because the money they are flaunting does not belong to them.
These people owe banks and other money lending institutions. Others are civil servants who have stolen our commonwealth from various sectors like commercial banks and mortgage institutions. When these people feel threatened or are caught, they become potential candidates of suicide who should be watched closely. Suicide is an option to many of them.
I always remind my fellow Kenyans about the practical steps we can take to eradicate poverty and lead better life. The old lesson is still relevant: Cut your coat according to your cloth. It means you should live within your income: have fewer kids, live in a home you can pay for, drive a car you can maintain, travel only when you need (not want) to travel, eat smart, drink smart, attend schools you can afford and that are helpful.
But for the wise, as I said earlier, suicide should never be an option no matter what. Let hope be the last thing to lose in life. The leaders of Kenya, those who control our resources should give their fellow compatriots hope. Else, they will continue living in fear with their suicidal neighbours. Our Members of Parliament must eschew increasing their salaries beyond what the mind can imagine. A few civil servants conspire to take home close to Sh100b every month while the people they represent are wallowing in extreme poverty. Some MPs are richer than their constituencies.
These kinds of injustices are the ones that fuel suicidal tendencies among the masses. Our oppressors have no option but to let us live or face the wrath of the oppressed.
(The writer sells bananas in the streets of Kisii Town)