Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where is Personal Responsibility in Kenya?

Yesterday evening, I watched an interview with Samuel Kivuitu (ex-head of our discredited ECK). He was speaking about how Kibaki and Raila did not send him off with the respect and dignity he felt he deserved. At the same time, he also spoke about how he unfortunately fell ill prior to the elections and shady business may have been conducted by some of his commissioners who "took advantage of his ill health" and his inability to watch over them as he would have wanted to, to cause mischief with the electoral process.


Samuel Kivuitu seemingly takes no responsibility for any of the irregularities and the manner in which the election was managed (so poorly that it almost plunged the country into civil war). Infact, Samuel Kivuitu wants to be hailed as a hero despite all these things, afterall Samuel Kivuitu was sick and not able to properly do his job!

If Samuel Kivuitu was unable to properly carry out the work for which we, the taxpayers were offering him a healthy remuneration, then Samuel Kivuitu should have quit. As long as he stayed in the job, I do not care one bit if he was sick or his wife was sick or his mother died or whatever other sob story he wants to offer us...he has to do the job he is paid for..otherwise he has to step aside. To fail so miserably at his job, then stay in the media whinging about this, that and the other leaves a very very bad taste in my mouth.

But Kivuitu is not alone in suffering from this disease, Infact, I fear that the disease is becoming the norm rather than the exception in our society.

The disease in question is the refusal to accept the consequences of one's actions.

In modern day Kenya, nobody is ever at fault for anything, nobody ever takes responsibility for anything. Salesmen are ill-prepared, sullen and rude yet bemoan life when they don't make any sales, ministers act arrogant then bemoan the media when the media turns on them, retailers sell poor products then cry when customers stop coming... Everything is everyone else's fault. Nothing is 'my' fault.

Things go wrong in life, people make mistakes. What makes a person great is not living a mistake-free life, but rather how one reacts to the missteps they make.

Do you own your errors and misjudgements? Do you accept the consequences of your actions?

I believe most people would answer 'yes' but the sad truth in modern day Kenya is more likely than not a firm 'NO'.


  1. Probably wrong impression but based on most Kenyans that I've interacted with especially in commerce, but many don't like the hardwork necessary to do something well.

    Kenyans especially in the public sector suffer from this badly. No sense of ownership. Many have been politically appointed or slotted by relas or friends. They've never had to resign 4 delivering in a cack-handed manner. And therein lies the rub.

    You or me, if we mess up in the private sector, we take a walk or go without. Not them.

  2. That is a fairly accurate impression. People are not really prepared to do the hardwork to really excel and to offer a truly excellent product consistently.

    What I find peculiar is that these people do not then accept the consequences of failing to do so. I find it difficult to put in words but when I lived/worked in the UK, I had the sense that some people were often fairly content doing the minimum but accepted that they would not be moving very far up in the world.

    Kenyans often seem to not only be content doing the minimum, but have this expectation that they will get ahead doing so. They then blame anything and everything else when business is bad/promotions are not forthcoming.

    This attitude is very evident in public sector but also exists in the private sector. I guess lack of competition has something to do with it, but even where competition is there, the standards are often uniformly mediocre.

    I was in the market for a printer the other day and went up and down looking for one. I wanted salesmen to make the case for their products but they were by and large they were indifferent and didn't have a clue. I was left wondering isn't the sales credo "If you don't sell, you don't eat?"

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