In the viral spoken word performance “Wajinga Nyinyi” Kenyan hip hop artist Kennedy Tariq Ombima aka King Kaka berates the public for watching and even cheering on — as it was normal — as grand corruption consumed their lives and the future of their children. As this reading of Nancy Ndeke’s poem ‘Corruption has no Royalty’, reveals, it is not the first time a Kenyan artist has used art to attempt to stir action among the people.
Via a tweet, two time (2013, 2017) Kenya presidential candidate Mwalimu, Dida Kinuthia Mwangi told an interesting analogy.
Irked by the callousness of individuals alleged to be involved in corruption calling each other out as Kenyans blinded by partisan politics cheered on, he equated the politician’s public, albeit vulgar, spat to foolhardy braggadocio of naive kids who end up landing their fathers in trouble.
Mwalimu Dida’s comment followed media revelations of public funds, both donated and borrowed, for the mitigation of COVID-19 in Kenya had been embezzled. [Follow debate using the hashtag #Covid19millionaires]
Mwalimu Dida equated the online bickering between close allies of leading Kenyan politicians as angry children who out of innocence, one says: “My father has a snake!” The other one says, “My father has a gun!” Wrapping up the vivid analogy, Mwalimu Dida said: “Now their fathers have to explain to the village why they have snakes and guns!”
In the reading of Nancy Ndeke’s poem ‘Corruption Has no Royalty’ Wafula Khisa elucidates truths about corruption in Kenya as partly summed up by Dida.
Khisa’s reading unpacks part of the story of corruption in Africa: A gullible public whose foolishness (ethnic jingoism?) blinds it to the ills of the vice; the weakened state of institutions such as the church that have been swallowed by the vice, and corruption’s global roots among other insights.
When Vultures Eat Our Fortune: Wafula Khisa’s reading of Nancy Ndeke’s poem ‘Corruption Has No Royalty’
In the reading of Nancy Ndeke’s poem ‘Corruption has no Royalty’ Wafula Khisa observes:
Ndeke brings to our attention two aspects of corruption in the title of this poem. One is that corruption has no class, rank or status. It is not only limited to (or practiced by) people of a certain group. Anybody can do it (and is indeed doing it) anywhere. Two is that corruption, as an economic crime, does not pay. It has no benefits to an individual or nation.
In the poem, the speaker– a witness and victim of this crime– starts with a helpless admission that corruption has been normalized and institutionalized. To them, corruption is now an obvious thing in humans, not mere hearsay or show. It is ingraved in our hearts and has become part of the things that define us.
About the poet
Nancy Ndeke is a poet and author from Nairobi in Kenya. She is a mother of a son and a daughter. She was born in 1963 rural Meru. Although Nancy Ndeke enjoyed reading in her childhood, her writing came late in life, but not too late to share her passion with the world.
Nancy Ndeke Bio
Nancy Ndeke, described by The Zimbabwean’s Inside Candid Talk Studio as African Poetic Tigress, is a graduate of the University of Nairobi where she trained as a teacher. Upon graduation, over a career spanning two decades, she taught English Literature in various high schools in Kenya.
In her last two years as a civil servant, she taught communication skills in a Teacher Technical institution in Nairobi, Kenya. A year before that, she had been a tutor in a Teacher training college in Meru.
Between 2009-2013, she worked with various NGO’s in South Sudan as a programs officer. It is during the evenings and weekends in the South Sudan territory, that she started putting materials together for the book-SOLIAMA LEGACY, which is now published by Amazon.
Most recently she has written and published Lola-Logue to Amazon as well. This is a shorter work of fiction, but was still written under cover of night with the same dedication as her first.