In one of these 5p.m coffee dates, a friend told me how much of beggars the Kenyan citizenry is becoming. He spoke of the little handouts that we are accepting to sell our dignity, our patriotism, and opportunities that might have turned out greater for us. My friend shared an experience where he once wanted to help out a group of young boys with boda bodas on loan so that they can make money from it instead of idling in the market. When he called them in for a meeting, and after listening to him speak, this is what they had to say- so what exactly is in it for us and for you? And how much are you paying us for attending this meeting?

There you have it. They needed to be paid to be helped-the culture of small handouts that has made us beggars and seekers of one-minute solutions at the peril of our own country, of a better future. These men were more concerned about a two-hundred shilling note maybe for a quick drink, and less concerned about the bigger and long-term opportunity to make money for themselves. My friend did not want to help people who aren’t ready to be helped- so he folded his bags and off he went.

This is a habit that has been cultivated in most of us, especially when it comes to politics. We have sold our votes before just so we can afford food for one night- forgetting that we might have just purchased long-term suffering for a whole nation with a small handout. It is all around us. Social online marketers will endorse a political candidate to the masses, knowing that this might not be the right person to lead the country, but they will endorse them anyway because there is pay at the end of the month. Years down the line, when he has laundered public money and helped pass barbaric bills that do nothing but destroy us, the little handout he gave you once upon a time will be long gone. You will remember a time when you sold your beliefs. What is 10, 000 Kenyan shillings to better governance?

This buying, this barter trading, this wanting quick money, this overdependence on handouts  has made us such slaves that even in the purest acts of kindness, we see it as an opportunity to make money. How many times have you wanted to help people, but then they won’t believe that you are doing it all for free- so they need to know first, what’s in it for you and for us? It becomes a trade.

Maybe it is human nature to grab every opportunity and make quick money or an equivalent gain out of it. Maybe there is a never-ending mantra that plays at the back of our minds, a mantra that tells us of the goodness of these handouts. But you know what these handouts make us? They make us prisoners. We keep on coming back for more because they are never enough!

Maybe we are just too poor to reason. Maybe it is joblessness. But as we get into the year of elections, I hope we remember that these handouts are never going to help us. And that they are a conduit to keeping us all buried in suffering.