It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase ‘Kenya ina wenyewe’(Kenya has its owners). Further investigated, the phrase seems applicable to a select few in a country of over 40 million people, as far as wealth and the national cake go.
Mwenyenchi translates to ‘owner of the country’, while mwananchi translates(loosely) to ‘a child of the country’, or the offered Swahili equivalent of a citizen.
Mwenyenchi exudes opulence and control, while mwananchi implies beleaguerement and dependency.
It would seem that mwananchi’s life is in the control/mercy of the (perceived) mwenyenchi’s. In politics, in business, ‘kuna mwenyenchi, na kuna mwananchi’. (There’s the country owner and there’s the child of the country,so to speak.)
Zooming in on the political sphere, we find a vast majority of those who are qualified as ‘mwenyenchis’. The ‘waheshimiwas’ who are ‘in power’. The very people whose ‘existence in power’ depends on the casting of our votes. The ‘wenyenchis’ whose salaries depend on our tax remittances.
How then are a select few the mwenyenchi’s?
Isn’t the ‘mwenyenchi’ you and I? Aren’t we the bosses and they the servants?
As we march towards elections in Kenya, voting on the guidelines of a new constitution, the narrative of who the ‘mwenyenchi’ is must change. That we the electorate are mere ‘wananchi’ , dependent on the people we elect to represent our interests in the National Assembly and to whom we entrust our national bounty for growth and prosperity is a school of thought that we must challenge! Now more than ever, we, the ‘wenyenchi’ must lay claim of this country’s ownership.
The notion that mwenyenchi sio mwananchi must be toppled over. The two must be equalized. We are all citizens of this country first, we are all wananchi! This is our God-given land, our God-given home. We are also the ‘wenyenchi’; each and every one of us has a fundamental right to access the national cake, contribute to its enhancement to be available to all. However idealistic it sounds, we have voted in a constitution whose Bill Of Rights affirms as much. As we transition into unprecedented times, we have to do away with the perceived barriers that assert superiority of stature to the people and the institutions we put in place to lead and govern us.
It all starts in the mind. The new meaning of ‘mwenyenchi’, or the perpetration of what ‘mwenyenchi’ is defined to be. Join us in this mental revolution as we journey towards re-envisioning what it means to be a Kenyan.