The gift economy

The principle of gift economy to me was best rolled out by Joseph Stalin, the great leader of Russia, he ruled to his death, as much as he was a dictator, you have to give it to the man …he was decisive.. he made things happen.the concept was simple, be absolute.. where everything begins and ends with you. It was the blueprint for Idi Amin and Adolf Hitler. Idi Amin offered promissory notes to coffee farmers in the promise of payment at a later date, this notes were never processed, this is what led to emergence of a thriving coffee black market in Kenya. it was popularly known as the black gold…it inspired great literature such as the black gold of chepkumbe.

To some extent, i feel that the Kenyan society is a gift economy, where the very survival is both a skill and a gift. Many may differ with me on this but think about it …we all pay taxes…well the normal citizens like you and i that is …everything we buy has a tax tag on it. in principle ..what the government does is create a common pool of my and your money as a guarantee of the provision of certain services.

The reality however is that this resources are offered as a gift to us, like wrapped candy for a child… a gift for a child for being good, being loyal, casting votes, paying taxes on time and turning a blind eye when what is rightfully mine is not offered to me. It is a gift for voting for him and her, for being part of the bigger voting bloc.

In all cases of gift economies, large masses of people were forced to work for the wages that did not translate into money worth. when teachers, nurses, farmers, entrepreneurs… are not paid enough, not paid for holding the country’s economy by the arms and helping it walk, that is true gift economy.

When you look up to the judiciary, to the equity and balance of the law and it is compromised ..a judiciary that serves the few and does not promote fairness. When it fails to honor Boni judicis est ampliare justitiam ..the duty of a fair judge to make precedents which amplify justice.. that is a gift economy, that justice is only given in exchange for that fat envelope under the mahogany desk …that is true gift economy.

when your and his son are not able to access quality public education without having their results cancelled for exam leaks… something the Übermensch … the one percent gave us as a way of milking what little i had left, like your sons and daughters are fools to look away as exam answers are dangled on their faces… that is the new form of gift economy.

when the political class plays guileful games, a games of offering a dog a ‘bone’ and it growls at you when it is eating your ‘bone’, where once voted in, they pass laws that work in their favor, when they stock your wealth in foreign banks and stand as part gods and part mortals, demigods that give and take life as they wish… steal the little hope in life you have left in ARVs (anti retrieval drugs) and food donations.. Those are the mythological deities of a gift economy.

we deserve what we pay for, and we pay a lot, the notion that i owe it to my leader, that he or she is the reason i see development is sickening, the leaders simply take from my pocket and give a smaller portion back and take credit for something i am entitled to access under the constitution.

Pardon me for making you think i am talking about the leaders only, when we as Kenyans practice virulent tribalism on one another, not based on the color of the skin but where he comes from, his culture, her creed and what she speaks… that is the epitome of a gift economy.

-Antony Mwangi


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