The return of the Safari Rally has been celebrated for restoring Kenya’s glory. But this year’s event was running concurrently with another rally–the Sin Safari; a rally that crowns the most successful wreck of glory.
The rush to Naivasha (or Vasha) was not just to see the cars. To many, it was a sin rush. Their interest was not to secure places in the spectator spots. Such spots would be too open for their intents. They rushed to secure places in the vice fields far away from the cars. Many went early in the name of Safari Rally but had no idea when the rally started or ended. So near yet so far.
Such is the spirit of ‘Subaruism’. It is about illegal speed. It is about an unbearable roar. It is about a dark tint. Ultimately, it is the feeling of being an unstoppable yet celebrated sin machine. The fast speed leaves no room for reflection. With this, more than thrill, regrets are part of Subaruism. A look in the mirror makes one ask, “What was I thinking?” But whatever happened was too fast, too speedy for thought.
The emotional damage aside, evidence of brokenness is all over and has others asking, “Something doesn’t just seem right. What happened?” But the dark tint is on – what happened in Vasha stays in Vasha. You cannot speak. It is too shameful for narration. Until a betraying photo shows up from a strange corner of social media and your Vasha Vice Rally is on video for all to view. You go into damage control mode, but the speed is viral. The roar is on. What was done for fun is not funny anymore. The tint is transparent.
Subaruism is not a private club for privileged persons. The not-so-wealthy have versions of their own. While it is a visible part of contemporary youth culture, adults are in it, too. For both sexes, vice ventures are widespread.
What are we to make of those who – in their enactment of ‘no one can stop reggae’– shut themselves in pubs past curfew hours at the height of the coronavirus menace? What about the house orgies that have no regard for age or wedding rings? What about the show-offs who try to see who can drink the most hard stuff and still remain stable? Unstable thinking, indeed! Subaruism has its own vice innovation dimension – creating new ways of intensifying the party experience. It has also a recruitment wing with many admirers who can’t wait to be Subaruists.
Call it moralisation, but one thing is indisputable: there is such a thing as proper behaviour. The baptismal name for proper behaviour can be left to the liking of a community. The critical thing is upholding the principle. As parents enroll their children in schools, a key yardstick is how disciplined they are. That a school is a national school is not enough. The discipline question can inform a parent’s decision not to take up a slot. The desirable school is one that not only has rules but makes observance of those rules a key expectation. This sets standards of being and living in that community. Character is not subordinate to intellect. The student is not defined only by academic prowess but equally by proper behaviour. This intellect-character culture lives on in the alumni who, in retrospect, speak proudly and gratefully about it to the extent of replicating it in their areas of influence.
Subaruism has its contemporary in Omoshism. The biblical prophet Ezekiel had a substantial part of his message dramatised using day-to-day occurrences in Israel. The drama of the Tahidi High actor, Omosh, would make an effective illustration for Ezekiel, who would use this to script a Kenyan play titled ‘Omoshism’ accompanied by the tag line, ‘This is a true story’. This is Omoshism: get an opportunity-earn money-squander the money-beg for money-squander the money-beg for money. Rinse and repeat.
Is this not the state of our nation? Kenyans pay taxes, which retired President Mwai Kibaki demonstrated were good enough to run this country when well stewarded. But the culture of ‘it’s our time to eat’ leads us on a squandering spree. We speedily spiral into a hole of debt dug diligently by ourselves. But instead of, like the prodigal son, coming to our senses and exorcising the corruption demons, we give all manner of sophisticated arguments to excuse our vices. Instead of using our intellect to craft real solutions, we use it to innovate dark tints for our vices.
While our intellectuals craft clever academic proposals, it is self-deceiving to imagine that the rich from whom we borrow do not see the cunning in our eyes. When they lend to us, we celebrate that we have won. But what have we won, really? We have lost. We put the borrowed money in the hands of evil undertakers who zealously bury Kenyans alive. These undertakers are gluttonous leaders who swear to the creed ‘Crumbs for Citizens’.
But lenders are clever. What happens when their goodwill runs out? They have set limits for us. Where we burst the limits, borrowing ceases and begging begins. Begging comes with conditions. When our begging stretches the conditions, the country will be up for grabs.
Omoshism sets the perfect conditions for weeping in the Promised Land. It is the presumption of Samson after Delilah; he imagined he would still wake up with strength. But the glory was gone, leaving him a pale shadow of his previously powerful self. President Barack Obama once said to Kenyan leaders, “We have not inherited this land from our forbearers; we have borrowed it from our children”. Let us not be like that malicious tenant who wrecks a house and upon vacating leaves behind a defaced structure. Subaruism and Omoshism must be replaced by a superior culture.