Revv22's Blog

November 12, 2011

Hungry Patriots

Filed under: Uncategorized — revv22 @ 10:44 am

Apparently in Kenya at the moment it is unpatriotic to demand that the government pays attention to a discussion that has been going on for more than two years. Even if they (govt) were part of the conversations.

As the academic and support staff of Kenyan public universities opt for industrial action as a final yell for attention, some one at the ministry for higher education is busy suggesting that their strike is ‘ill-timed and unpatriotic’.. Well not exactly in those words. But when the minister in charge sites the current economic ditch and the military operations in Somalia as being the priority for treasury, she is simply playing an underhand tactic in the negotiations.

You can’t in one minute acknowledge that concerns raised are legitimate and in the next dismiss their timing as being unpatriotic. The minister should own up to the fact that her ministry has not been seriously considering the plights of the unionist for all this time. Turning the public against the group is a cowardly way of intimidating the university staff. Is unfortunate that some of the students and parents are also publicly denouncing the strike, saying that they have paid school fees and have to be taught. Of course they have a right to get the services they have paid for but wouldn’t it be best if they demanded for a solution without criminalising the striking workers.

Media houses have not made the situation any better, with one putting up a question for vote, “do you think the lecturers strike is unpatriotic?”. What they failed to cover is that the current strike, even though it involves both lecturers and support staff, is mainly a push by the latter. What has been highlighted is the demands by senior staff whose demanded salary increment would put them in the same salary scale as high court judges. What they fail to see, is that the people parading placards, are the “wanjiku workers” who are in constant contact with the student body on a day to day basis. These include security officers, kitchen staff, librarians, lab assistants, office clerks and administrators, front desk attendants and office secretaries… The list is endless.

These persons are equally feeling the psychological pinch of the war (which by the way no one has bothered to tell us how much it is costing us and how we are funding it) and the ailing economy. Being that they are workers at higher learning institutions, they are probably the most versed in matters of “utaratibu” and protocol. So for them to take to the streets as they so often urge their students not to, it means they have heard enough empty promises and deadlock negotiations. Their “sticking up to the man” especially in time of war is a sign of open and liberal thought which is perhaps the difference between true patriotism and jingoism.



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