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The tragedy of our chauvinism boggles the mind



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If we gave it systematic thought, members of Kenya’s educated class would be the first human beings to offer to sacrifice something substantial to enable the National Treasury to cope with the crisis now stalking Kenya. This would ignite a national discussion, probably urging members of the elite to offer to slash their own excessive personal salaries so that Kenya can avoid a national catastrophe.

In that way, the Treasury would have initiated the process by trying to galvanise the political chieftains into seeking to negotiate with the economic magnates in a controlled attempt to prevent the crisis from degenerating into a national catastrophe. Yet, to my knowledge, the mind of a typical member of Kenya’s “middle class” has never worked quite like that.

The middle class has never given any thought to the suffering of other human members of their own society. In that sense, members are not human beings. The extreme anguish, the hue and cry, the intense suffering of small children among Kenya’s lowest classes, none of these catastrophes has ever touched and will ever touch his or her mind.

To the extent that he or she thinks about his or her whole society, it is only about how that society can help him or her to increase his or her own personal material acquisitions. But I should stress “he”, “him” and “his” because, in our society, decisions of that kind belong squarely to the male so-called “partners”. Practically all of Kenya’s domestic and political decision-makers are male chauvinists.

It is with a wave of the hand that they habitually dismiss the thoughts and suggestions of their mothers, their wives and their daughters. For them, then, the female counterparts are nothing but children. They are but machines by which the males manufacture their own male heirs to the property that they have ill-amassed. No Kenyan or any other human being known to me has ever given any thought to the speed by which the human species would hasten its own development if, as a species, human beings allowed their mothers, their sisters and frequently even their daughters to be the captains of all our struggles to thrive on this extraordinary planet.

Never and nowhere known to me has the science of biology suggested that males are better equipped than females in the production and reproduction of humanity’s survival requirements. Yet in most of our world’s marital systems, the minds and hands of the females do not count as belonging to full human beings and are lying fallow. Where is your vaunted specific intelligence when, even in the 21st century, you still relegate the thoughts and skills of more than half of you as counting for nothing?

Where exactly is your vaunted specific intelligence when, in practically all of humanity’s societies, a clobbering is what a female is likely to get whenever — like Europe’s Madame Curie — she produces a thought or a technique that reduces all males to shame? Among a species definable by its hands and its brain, that is surely a planetary catastrophe. For, if we used our brains and our hands to their fullest capacities, we would be in a position even to protect all of the earth’s other species, especially those that are vital to our own specific survival needs, as directed by the human brain and implemented by the human hand.

That is why I use the adverb “specifically” here. For no other earthly species known to me possesses even one of those two extraordinary abilities — namely, to get hold of things through the hand, to be able to examine them closely through the brain. Only humankind has ever acquired such abilities on our planet.

Mr Ochieng is a veteran journalist.