I would love to indulge you in a wordily sketch as to why I think we should just let sheng’ be. Why this language is as old as urbanisation and will continue growing its variants as long as we are in this Nairobi. I would love to attempt to convince you that this is never the language of the deviant, less educated hardheads from the slum whose first sip in the morning is a puff of ‘gazetted’ leaves. But I have been here before. We have previously agreed that sheng, and its closely allied variant, the ‘xoxery’, are our inevitable doom. We know not the setting in which to apply them, and in an official context, an individual will blurt out ‘mgangari’ to the dismay of many. In a job application letter, someone will have the audacity to begin it withe ‘xaxa’, xo I wuz wonderin ….and then sign off with ‘regadz’. Our linguistic cancer!
You know what makes it more painful? Not its endorsement by Smitta who makes the younglings want to write like him because they will one day get a job at some publishing firm, but because our politicians have also endorsed it. You saw Raphael Tuju try so hard to communicate to the ‘youth’ in some archaic version of the lingua franca, something he believes will bring the youth closer to him because ‘he identifies’. Will he also write his manifesto in the ‘xoxery’ because that is the language of the youth? Will he put on supras, tight blue jeans, geek sunglasses and walk the streets of Nairobi just so the youth can look at him as their political sounding board? I must digress and say that I was extremely slighted by his technique of ‘speaking to the youth’.
However, Tuju is not alone. He is in the breed of incorrigibles that do not know how well-informed and focused the youth of today are. The breed of empty-headed politicians we sent to parliament. You saw a cabinet minister ‘attempt’ to speak at a press conference. An uneducated cabinet minister who cannot even put together coherently the zeros of a year of our Lord.
The mockery that the government has made out of our education system will tell you a lot how less they value it as a tool for societal development. Or maybe it is because most of them are semi-literates who are self-assuredly masquerading as ministers in our own government, even with their chains of certificates and unblemished tongues.
You have seen Sonko before. He represents ‘some’ youths. And because he has some depiction of these youths, he spends most of his sunny days jumping over gates and punching others. Why? Because he represents the deviant and the insane; the youth of the society. Isn’t it a pity how low these politicians must think of us?
I was having a conversation with a newly made friend and out of it came a realisation that the reason these politicians act so outlandishly is because they have realised that the middle-class and educated citizen only makes noise but prefers his/her comfortable place. The middle-class citizen never wants to leave his chair and go out there to make a change. We sit in front of our TVs and internets; we dissect them head to toe, render them brainless, one by one. Death of one, birth of another, death of one, birth of another, we just watch this vicious cycle.
Unfortunately, these insane politicians represent the big number of naive citizens. This naive citizen is the one that spends ’lunchless’ days under the scorching sun of Uhuru Park at public rallies. He is the one that finds a thrill in Tuju’s speech because he has ‘shenganised’ it. Ok, I doubt this citizen would find any thrill in Sonkos behaviour. But you get the drift? And what makes it even sadder is that the loudest voice when it comes to elections is that one of the naive citizen who does not care for the principles you represent as a politician; the one that is easily cheated into voting via quick cash handouts during political campaigns.
Hello middle-class and educated citizens; our rocking chair is comfortable…and from it, we make the loudest noise. But this rocking chair is becoming too comfortable for us that we are letting a country suffer in the hands of the untaught. It is a shame that people that cannot pronounce a single word in Kiswahili have over time made it to parliament. We need to leave this comfort zone, stop saying things and actually start doing things.