"Many are spoil’d by that pedantic throng, who with great pains teach the youth to reason wrong. Tutors like virtuoso’s, oft inclin’d by strange transfusion to improve the mind, draw off the sense we have, to pour in new; which yet, with all their skill they ne’er could do."
Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism (1711)
As I have said before, I was brought up on Shakespeare and The Bible. The Bible was important to remind us of whose image was on the coin whilst Shakespeare, by being incomprehensible, was meant to make literature- and the quest for knowledge- abhorrent. The school system was designed to turn us into carpenters, like baby Jesus, and not what Taban Liyong called intellectual- intelligentsia- convertibles.
They would never teach us Ngugi wa Thiong’o because the realities mirrored in his writing were too close to home. Ngugi- and his ilk- was anathema because wasn’t in the business of raising intelligent revolutionaries.
Our history and Civics texts- inspired by Joseph Goebbels or George Orwell’s 1984, maybe- were, with their Presidential Press Service photos of the president building gabions, something in between the non existent KANU manifesto and government propaganda. They even made us read a certain book called Nyayo Philosophy written by a certain eminent and politically correct professor. (Fortunately, the only thing I learnt from the book is one perfect example of an oxy moron: Nyayo Philosophy.)
But all that is a long time ago. Way back when there was only one broadcaster whose brief was to remind us of our love for the president. And all that was before telling us who the president had hired, fired or gone to church with. That was all before the era of multiple TV stations. It was back when Kenya Times was as sacrosanct as the Kenya Gazette and was required reading by the Public Service Commission. Those were the days before Christ-how-did-we-live-without-it? - FM radio.
FM was the last straw that broke the back of Government’s budding complacency. The Government was suddenly awake to the fact that the youth had new heroes; heroes who didn’t even have roads or white elephants named after them. The Government also realised, at about that time, that there was a huge demographic escaping the inbuilt indoctrination mechanism of the Public School system. These impressionable youths were not merely in private schools but some a new kind of setup called International schools. It was apparent that the cost of a GCE at an ‘off licence’ Muhindi Academy was lower than the cost of a Government National School. (International Certification, or whatever, was therefore not the preserve of the children of flash in the pan bureaucrats who had discovered the destination of ‘missing files.’)
FM and a parallel system of education had distracted the youth from the most significant symbol of National Unity- the Presidency. Suddenly, there were a large number of youths who hadn’t pledged their loyalty to the president, sang the National Anthem and- atrocity of atrocities- Tawala Kenya. And FM was giving these juvenile hordes something to dance to that wasn’t, ‘Nyayo Philosophia Njema….’
To say that Government was faced with a crisis of monumental proportions would be easily dismissed as this writer’s penchant for hyperbole, yet as Lord Byron would have it, truth is always stranger than fiction. As it is, any strong arm Government can only thrive not only through monopolising the executive, legislature and the judiciary but also the key superstructure element that is education- knowledge. A despotic state wishing to perpetuate itself must remain the sole purveyor of information to the masses. And here was FM radio usurping that role, by being the new Information Super Highway for urban youth. FM radio was a veritable Dooms day Cult.
Courtesy of FM radio, Kalamashaka had a runaway hit- Tafsiri Hii- and were being turned into national heroes by the youth. All of an easy sudden, here was someone telling the youth something they could relate to beyond the official- viongozi wa kesho- line of the Government.
What else could constitute a crisis for Government? Here was a bogeyman that no light- light covered with a bushel, obviously- of Commission of Inquiry or a new district could banish.
The Professor of Politics had to rewrite his thesis, nay, shift his paradigm...
Coming Soon: PROJECT DUNDA- A Governement Sanctioned Counter Culture