By Mohammed Hersi
I rarely do a piece on a weekday but being a Friday please allow me to pen one and join me on a nostalgic trip.
Allow me to title it “Kenya , before the thieves showed up”…
A few weeks ago I met a chap who is my agemate but he comes from a rich family where the dad was a very senior goverment official. To this day they are wealthy .
I took time to give him a history of Kenya and how we had most facilities working . I told him that while we are forced to celebrate some overpriced SGR we indeed had the old railway that connected East Africa big time let alone Kenya .
I told him we even had a line to Nanyuki to help ferry beef cattle for export via Konza and Athi River holding ground. Kenya was famous for live cattle export which is not easy to do .
We even had a railway line from Voi to Taveta . We even had KBS Mombasa to Taveta .
We had steamers on Lake Victoria. Families in Kisumu had folks in Bukoba , Entebbe or Mwanza.
Your cargo gets to Kisumu from Mombasa you load it onto water steamer across to Bukoba. Trade was huge . We had a proper working port in Kisumu
Growing up in Marsabit I never saw a railway line but I knew there was a line that connected Nyahururu and Nakuru . Drawing railways connection in Kenya was part of our syllabus.
We even had a working very successful airline owned by Kenya Uganda and Tanzania before greed and one mad Idi Amin Dada self declared generals of all generals made us to divorce .
EU came to benchmark with East Africa on how an economic block can work .
We had working garment industries from Rivatex. Kicomi. Mountex . We had our meat canning factory in Kenya meat commission. Almost all household goods were manfacured in Kenya . We even assembled Sanyo radios made in Kenya.
My friend was left in awe . I was speaking to him like a bearded grey haired 90 years sage . Well while I went to ordinary school and managed to learn about our history my friend went to one of those “fine” schools . Maybe they don’t get the opportunity to learn these things . I have no idea but I also loved history and geography.
For us to drool over a single line by the Chinese is really not a miracle . We had this and many more but looks like very few of us know about it or even remember it.
Health system worked where all hospitals were fully kitted and original medicine from Germany, Italy etc were prescribed.
We never had all these useless private health centres where majority are owned by goverment employed doctors selling drugs meant for public hospitals. Folks , private health centres is a clear sign of a broken system. It is NOT development.
Goverment schools all worked . I had the same books at Marsabit Primary school just like a child at Moi Avenue Primary School, Nairobi. We had no private schools all claiming to be academies save for community schools like Oshwal and Aga Khan . Again I repeat these many private schools proliferation is a clear sign of a broken system. It’s NOT development. Rwanda is doing the opposite . Fix goverment owned schools and the so called academies are shutting down .
In late 80’s, 90% of Nairobi had piped water , we drank to our fill straight from the tap and we were promised by year 2000 every home would have piped water. Nairobi is curenty getting water through trucks and Mikokotenis in 2019.
Folks I can go on and on. We may have been poor but the goverment of the day gave us dignity . Basic healthcare, education , water was in plenty. When basics are in place security takes care of itself.
I am sharing this to educate younger folks that Kenya was indeed a force to reckon with before the real thieves set in and made nonsense of a working system . Well I still remain optimistic that we can get our groove back but maybe not in my lifetime but I will do what I can in my small way.
Now you know and I wish you all a happy nostalgic weekend .
As always I choose to remain an optimist