As a journalist for the past 20 some years, I have had lots of experiences - some interesting, some exciting, some not too exciting, some absolutely wonderful. In all, I have chosen to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty and that is why I continue to enjoy my journalism travails. As I grow older, I learn more, sometimes from mistakes, sometimes from just wanting to learn more and sometimes from accidents. It all adds up to Wanja's Notebook. ....
Saturday, November 5, 2016
LESSON FROM MY LATE FATHER ON AVOIDING CONFLICT OF INTEREST....
When the Health 5Billion whatever it is called now shot up
two weeks ago, I told a friend – if I was Uhuru Kenyatta, I would ensure that
my close relatives play by the rules and they are not caught up in scandals that they might not necessarily be involved in but they are in there any way. Why, because these scandals or whatever they are called now can shame the family through anyone looking to link the him to anything that is not outright clear. They should therefore stay away from Government tenders
and any other things that will bring questions later and make money from so
many other things that do not involve direct government funds – Kenya is a country you can thrive in, even by learning how
to sell anything and everything if you know how to!
told the friend that UK is covered by the Constitution to fight CORRUPTION
& TRIBALISM within the confines of that great document and to let go anyone
who does things contrary to the Constitution and saying “mnataka nifanye nini
sasa” should never have come from his mouth because there is so much he can
“fanya” without asking for a national referendum but that will trickle down to
everyone positively including the "serikali saidia" mama or another one selling sukuma in Hola by the road side or some jua kali artisan in Gikomba or Kwale or Mandera - if you do things right, they will feel it wherever they are!
Fast forward - How will history judge him? Let me leave that to
Now, back to the conversation we were having with my friend - I narrated to him how strict my father was
when he was in a position of authority more than 20 years ago especially towards
my brother Paul Njuguna and I. You could not get favors that had something to
do with his job – nope – we watched as others ‘ate meat so to speak”. It hurt then because I did not understand it
very well but a few years later, I realised how important it was for him to
have made that decision.
When one day he was accused of all manner of things, I
could swear he never did – (there were 17 accusations in all), I knew I was
right - because I know what he did not allow us to access, what he did not let us touch because it was a conflict of interest. How did I know my late dad was innocent? Because many of his accusers have since either apologised to us as
a family (some before dad died), although not to the media they went to originally. Others told us exactly
what their role in the scandals were which led to dad’s untimely death so to
speak due to heart ache. But we knew he was innocent too because before my mum passed on, many
people involved in those 17 accusations had already either gone to ask for
forgiveness or for prayers because of things they were undergoing and knew they
had something to do with their lies against dad then.
Yes, all along I knew my
dad was not perfect but he was innocent on the 17 counts and to date, I still
honor this great man of God (continue to rest in peace dad – your work was not
Back to what dad did to me that pained me then. I had taken a loan of Ksh120,000 to do two things – buy a small car and the rest, buy a plot in
Kahawa. The car, a small Suzuki 4 by 4 was being sold by his employer at a
throw away price. Its a car I had ridden in many times and I knew it was just
what I needed at the time. So, I went to dad and told him I had ready cash to
buy it. These were his words: “My daughter, I will never preach water and drink
wine. I don’t ever want someone one day to have proof that I had a conflict of
interest and sold a car to my daughter instead of letting others have a chance
at it just because I can. I live by what I preach.” And with that, the Suzuki
was gone and I think it was bought by a colleague of his for even cheaper, I
believe but not to his daughter. It was the second time he had refused me to buy something from his employer - that was it - I never asked again - lesson was learnt!
What am I saying? It is very easy to let things spiral into
chaos as you watch because you do not want to get involved or to look the other
side when you should not but it takes a leader, any leader from an OCS, a kanju askari to an MCA to the top
and back down to whoever - to tell his family and others around/close to him/her
– “No – you will not do this in my time – find something else to do”. Or “No,
you have done a wrong thing -you are on
your own on this” – like Kagame did with his brother.
Many years later, we will
remember that you as a leader led by example – that you did not preach water
and drank wine.
Who are our closest
friends and confidants? In position of authority – who are our advisers – have
we asked God to surround us with people who will not lead us astray but will
help us make credible, morally right decisions personally and for leaders, nationally?
If you open
your mind to learning eternally, you will keep doing things, learning from your
mistakes, not repeating them and moving on to do the next big thing.
something I had always heard but never knew who had said it until I went to
Harvard Kennedy School of Government and realised it was JFK for whom the School was named after that said: " Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.""
Let me pen off with words again that have been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi's “Be the Change You Want to See”. Whereas the actual words he said were the following, they still mean the same. : “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi