Friday, January 13, 2012


Who does this apply to?
I wasn't near a television last night so I missed the news. This morning I woke up to the Kenyan twitterverse bursting with news about Beth Mugo's visit to the United States for cancer treatment. On the bus ride to work I threw in my little barbs on the topic. The irony that the two ministers mandated to cater to the health a whole country had both been struck by cancerous misfortunes. To this point you may sympathize with the individuals. But the moment where that sympathy evaporates like dew in the morning sun is the point where both ministers had to seek treatment beyond our borders.

I'm tempted to throw a fit of righteous anger but then the story changes when I get to the office. On the phone is my colleague and friend. It's just another day in what has been an emotionally and financially draining journey. Her brother was diagnosed with cancer a while ago. I would not claim to understand all the details but he had a form of bone cancer which kept him up at night in pain. My colleague, lets call her G, would show up at work completely worn out from nights spent up to massage her brother's legs so he could catch a few moments of sleep.

In his early 20's, her brother was spending more and more of his time within hospital corridors. Instead of chasing after skirts and enjoying the freedom that comes with university, he was stuck in consultation rooms and going through chemotherapy. His life was being stolen. Then a couple of months ago, some good news came through. He was declared cancer free.G practically waltzed into the office. She was beaming. And what followed were days with her basically floating on air and facebook updates thanking God for the good fortune.

Today I walk into the office and G is on the phone with one of our colleagues. I haven't seen her all week.Her voice is low. The tone has become ingrained completely. Barely holding on to hope. Her brother is not doing so good. He went into remission and the cancer has spread. From his bone, it's now spread into his lungs, eyes and other organs. The doctors are running out of ideas and now say the only option is to have him go to India for treatment. And the gears now switch to raising money for all the expenses that will come along with that. Hope is slowly slipping away but it's not all gone.

Then it dawns on me. I am not angry. I am sad. This isn't about Beth Mugo or Anyang' Nyong'o having the money to afford a trip to the US to get treatment. In essence it's not a fight between the classes pitting the haves and have-nots. It's simple really. Their mandate. They have had public spats about two ministries that could be run by an individual. They traverse the country in publicly funded comfort in order to carry out a single objective. To provide quality services to a poplulation in dire need of them.

I am not angry but I need to be. Angry at the fact that the Education Ministry tells us that they are providing quality education while most officials would not trust that system for their own children. That the Trade Ministry would encourage us to buy and build Kenyan when their shopping trips lead them to Saville Row and the shopping malls of Dubai. We should be angry at the double standard that is now known as being Kenyan. How much time needs to go by before G's brother can get the same shot at life as Beth Mugo and Anyang' Nyong'o?


  1. I think there needs to be a caveat, as long as one is a public servant, your kids and immediate family must be treated in Kenya's public hospitals. The kids must attend local public schools and local universities....! If this is hard to do, then keep off public is the only way we can ensure that everyone has a shot at good education and health care.

  2. G,s story is sad i am sorry for what she is going through. Our leaders should realize that going in public with their "abroad" treated cancer stories is just malice and shitty. This country has resources that are not fully utilized and developed thanks to their corrupt and malicious leadership skills so they should just shut up!

  3. I am definitely angered at the fact that we exist in different class realms in this country. Even worse, when it comes to access to health care. I agree fully with Mureithi, let them all have a taste of that NHIF they bandy about to civil servants and the financially strained middle class if only to bring them awake to the fact that the entire health care edifice of this country is in shambles. Let them also take their children to the Public Schools and let them swap their Passats for a ride in the Matatu Write - Offs.. so much for fighting ignorance, poverty and disease...

  4. Amazing Writing16 March 2012 at 09:23

    Great article about the true state of Kenya, Remission (medicine) is the state of absence of disease activity in patients with a chronic
    illness, with the possibility of return of disease activity

  5. I think its time every Kenyan understood that their vote counts, that we need to elect not only visionary leaders but those who walk the talk. It all starts with me!

  6. We hope to be able to offer free breast cancer screening soon. More information coming up at