As Kenya slowly but surely slides into campaign mode two years away from the next general election, the debate about who really is a hustler rages on, with contrasting definitions ranging from a person yet to find a footing in our competitive economy to one who is poor and disillusioned, one whose parents aren’t founding fathers of the country, to one who shares in the struggles of the common man and to one employing all means, morality and legality aside, to rise above their peers.
A keen observation, however, of those benefiting from the self-proclaimed Chief Hustler’s goodies and tokens, gives an idea on who qualifies to be among the lucky group. An observant citizen can then assume that young men pushing mkokoteni carts, Carwash operators, tailors, bodaboda riders, sellers of roadside maize and of course pastors, who are the common guests at the Karen shrine of dissent are the focus point of the Hustler’s development plan.
A concerned taxpayer with eyes beyond the immediate election loudly wonders where university students and graduates fall into this rushed hustlers’ empowerment frenzy that has been conveniently stepped up to shape the 2022 presidential campaigns as a hustlers Vs the others, read more privileged. Are university students and recent graduates sidelined because they would demand for more than just tokens and handouts? Worse still, could there exist a ploy to portray campus students as beneficiaries of all that the hustlers haven’t been able to get? Or rephrased, to portray university students as the reason why the hustler nation is impoverished? If there is exists an evil plan to mobilize and incite the hustler group into an unstoppable militia, may the unseen but powerful god of the Legio Maria church violently scuttle that evil scheme.
In a developing country like Kenya, university students have been at the forefront of socio-political change. Kenyans certainly remember the role played by campus students in keeping the then authoritarian KANU government in check and aiding in the clamour for multiparty democracy. Students have their special place reserved as the masters of innovation, the link between what’s present and what’s coming and those to be at the champions of good governance and development. Maybe the youth, especially tertiary level students in other countries are still living up to what is expected of them but it is evident for all to see, that the expected isn’t happening in Kenya.
Statistics estimate that our universities churn out up to 30,000 graduates every year and it is a well known fact that they are met with deplorable internship conditions, for the lucky few and the larger majority quietly hide away their degrees and certificates in shame to join and swim amongst the hustler group that has the attention and sympathies of the mighty. In addition to living with scorn from a society that gave much and is receiving so little, graduates have to live with a bigger irony, the irony of a hustlers Vs graduates competition.
Perhaps the sadder part of this new irony is that a former Minister of Higher Education and a Deputy President sitting at the heart of decision making that would have altered the destinies of many jobless graduates conveniently remains silent on their suffering and as a quick solution, attempts to build a following of jobless youth and gets them hooked up on tokens dubbed as empowerment.
Pioneer student leaders must be turning in their graves!