I Occupy, Therefore I am

To occupy means to fill or take up a space of time. Once one has filled that space, they may, in theory, take charge of it. This is seen in statements like “the occupying army.” Of course, in order for you to decide to occupy somewhere you must not have been there in the first place. You can’t go to occupy the area where you already are.

Why, then, must the people occupy parliament? If the elected officials are the representatives the people, then the people must already “occupy” that space; if only by virtue of their MPs being there.

They don’t.

The simple truth is that there is no space for the local mwananchi within parliament. The government has just recently said that they plan to bring about the 16% tax on goods that were previously zero rated (there’s a petition against this here). This means that the price of local goods will go up – exponentially.

A raise on taxes would not be so bad if the money was going to something worthwhile, like fixing things. Sadly though we lose most of our taxes through our very non-efficient system. Then we lose more to the, ever-rising salaries of the politicians. Some more goes the corruption way. Whatever is left after that is barely enough to maintain our current infrastructure, let alone expand. Inorder to expand we borrow from the US, China, World Bank, AfDB, Private Local Lenders and anyone else who has the money to spare. The result; debt that is 48% of our GDP and growing. (Imagine owing someone half your salary, before you’ve paid rent). And that’s not even taking the interest into account.

Instead of addressing problems like this the leaders do something very different. They argue over whether or not our previous prime minister was barred entrance to the VIP section. And whether he should be allowed into that section. This has become the highlight of issues in the aghast house.

Meanwhile the price of tomatoes went up more than 100% in the last 9 months, sugar is a luxury and housing prices are spiraling close to the edge of Oh My God.

No, there is no space for the citizen of Kenya in parliament.

In fact, increasingly there is no space for this citizen anywhere. Kenyan honour is already gone, our passports are fast loosing their value, Uganda and Rwanda are attracting more investors than us and the South Africans are methodically chasing us away from their country.

Maybe there are better ways to speak, and be heard. This has been said severally. Maybe, even, there is a lot to be said of the futility of the whole march. The futility of walking down the streets into teargas and swinging batons. Maybe it is true, there is no winning at this. Maybe we don’t even need to occupy parliament. But, one thing’s clear, the Kenyan citizen needs to occupy some space, any space. Before the idea of citizenry is lost to us completely.

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