"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

The elite are not spared the effects of a society in decay

There is a piece of writing that has been on the wall in front of my computer for a decade. It is a succinct poetic depiction of the inter-connectedness of things. Every bit of life depends on every other bit. The piece of paper (or device screen) on which you’re reading these lines contains everything in life: the cloud that made the rain that grew the wheat that fed the writer who shared thoughts which came from dead poets. It’s all here.

Here’s one of those dead poets, John Donne: “No man is an island, entire of himself.” Why is this essential fact of life forgotten in our Kenya today? Here I see many who belong to the rich and elite classes imagining they are above the everyday struggles of common society, protected and cocooned from the things that afflict so many of us.

Certainly, our rich leaders have the money that makes hunger a distant memory and the motorcades that make awful public transport somebody else’s problem. They have armed guards to protect them from everyday insecurity. They can afford the schooling for their children that requires no public money, and healthcare for themselves in far-off lands that are not affected by counterfeit drugs and counterfeit doctors.

So are they just dandy, these wealthy, protected, cloistered elites who live in gated worlds? Not at all. Here’s why.

Does rampant insecurity spare them? No. Violent crime is not something that just visits less-protected homes: it can explode anywhere at any time. Like at Westgate. Even if platoons of guards protect you, they may not protect people who matter to you. If your children too remain over-protected, they will not be able to live life fully in the world, or build any bond with it. And do you really think those underpaid armed guardians operating in a system of collapsed discipline won’t turn those same guns on you when the chance comes?

If society’s values are rotten, that is the society in which your children will be socialized and influenced. If it’s all ‘me-first’ in your world, your children will also become me-first and place you last someday. And if you try to helicopter them out of this place and take them to be educated in another place, good luck in keeping them close to their culture and roots.

When you fall sick, as you must, you may look at the dearth of great doctors and medical facilities, and use your wealth to seek treatment aboard. Again, good wishes to you if you need to recuperate for long periods away from the healing effect of those who care for you and understand you, on the soil that matters to you.

If you are a wealthy business owner spared the vicissitudes of everyday penny-pinching, you too cannot rest easy. Your business only prospers if its employees have ethics and its customers grow in their own lives. A society in which employees care nothing for their workplaces and customers strain under unbearable burdens of inflation and taxation is not one in which your fortunes will rise for long.

Every Wagalla is connected to every Westgate. Every Goldenberg not punished leads to every Anglo Leasing. Every road death is linked to every fake driving test and every shoddy road built. Every assassination blows oxygen onto the fires of future revenge. We sow the seeds of future calamity with every bad deed we commit or omit to prevent.

And so none of us can look away or feel privileged. Even those whose status relieves them of daily dangers and recurrent reversals will not be spared the consequences of societal degradation. As Donne went on to say, “…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Donne’s bell is tolling in Kenya, and whoever you are, it tolls for you.

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  • Mike Muchiri

    This is a beautiful and truthful article as always Sunny, keep up the good work. Although I pray that you don’t sink into fatalism and depression because of the current sad state of Kenya and the world in general, which by all indications isn’t going to get better anytime soon, but keep on with the good fight. And to paraphrase a good article you wrote some time back, it’s always darkest before dawn, and therefore we should never ever loose hope and join the hoi polloi in despair regardless of the circumstances surrounding us right now.


  • larry

    Sunny what a wonderful article l hope it spurs the rich in society to help change live with there riches and not just drown in there riches…so that they can make Kenya a better place to live in and this does not mean aid there are many creative ways of bringing that change ..it is time for the Kenyan billionaire to understand that even investing in a stadium, football team can change the life of many and thereof..creating jobs, while benefiting profitably and ensuiring security…we have enough reach people who won’t be able to spend all there money in a lifetime or there childrens lifetime and just sending small tokens to childrens home does is not aid…imagination is needed

  • Walter

    Couldn’t be put better than this. Excellent writing and thinking. its always a pleasure reading your articles.

  • Well put sunny,its high time we stopped building walls because one day they wont stand tall anymore thus will cramble down right before us and everything we tried to hide and protect will be exposed,it will be such a shame.

  • wambugu

    Hello..you hit the nail on the head each time in your articles..there are many articles in the papers with questions about what went wrong with our society…rightly so..i get this strong feeling that we are at a stage where we have to come out and start offering solutions..what do you think?we could meet one of these days and brainstorm…you could get in touch through my email or my tel no..0722583296..my name is Wambugu