I Have a Job… Would You Do It For Me?

In a country with too few job opportunities you would think those lucky enough to have them would be keen to ensure they stay employed by maybe, err, actually doing their job and perhaps even going a little beyond the call to ensure they keep the privileged position held.

I applied for a Kenyan identity card in September 2015. Every Kenyan must carry one and it is required to engage in any official business activity. It is smaller than my passport so I thought the convenience, and the fact that I’ve been here so long, were good reasons to obtain one. I was told to return after six weeks so I gave it eight. After three subsequent visits and each time being told to return in two weeks, I lost a little bit of enthusiasm. But, that is not the point of my tale. Today, six months after applying I went again in vain hope (is there such a thing) and was informed that the card was in Nairobi (in Australia think Melbourne – Adelaide, in the UK think Liverpool – London, elsewhere think – a long, long way away). Did you apply in Nairobi? No, I live here in Mombasa, plus, the immigration stamp you put on my application clearly states ‘received in Mombasa’. “Oh! Can you go to Nairobi to pick it up? It would be much easier for you to do that than for us to have to contact them and have it sent here.” This is exactly what they said.

Similarly, but much more depressingly, when one of our students was recently abducted by an unknown male, we reported it to the local police station. After providing a detailed account of what had happened, where we thought he had lived, and upon receiving a report number from the police we were told (this is true I swear):

If you go and find him, and bring him here, I will arrest him.

People employed because of who they know or are connected too, have little motivation to actually do anything. An audit held after the last election revealed around 2500 “ghost workers” in the Mombasa County Council alone. 2500 salaries being drawn with no activity taking place. 2500 potential positions for the unemployed entering pockets of the undeserving.

Every day the papers and web news sites are full of stories of corruption, whether it is the high school examinations or the judiciary. No area of life is untouched by this most heinous undertaking. It is knitted into the fabric of Kenyan society so tightly that it is accepted with complete and utter resignation. Even by the lawyers.

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