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The Telescope

Modern Day Shame Culture

We live in a world of smart phones, instant worldwide information, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, multiple forms of music, divorce, remarriage, open homosexuality, widespread lying, deceit and greed, a decline in moral values, lack of civic accountability and personal responsibility, and countless more changes that create the appearance of a world in chaos. However of this numerous changes, the recent surge in the previously hushed shame culture has shockingly evolved rather fast in an ever busy world.

It predominantly features a people awash in moral judgment. Folks who undervalue universal moral principle and uphold subjective personal values. In the shame culture, there is no room for moral relativism. An individual’s correctness or lack thereof, is fundamentally based on what the social community dictates by offering its utmost honour or utter disgust through its ultimate crusade platform, social media.

The domain of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest, are a world of constant display and observation. An unmistakable parade of an intense desire to be embraced and praised by these communities. A movement of social creatures thirsty for clusters and utterly dreadful of being condemned or exiled. Their moral code devoid of right and wrong but rather the continuum of inclusion and exclusion.

Social media can be, and has been, vicious to those who do not fit in either of its groupings. It erupts to sudden, unsolicited ridicule on anyone that ‘stumbles’. Difference of opinion get so hot, so fast, because even a minor slight to a group is perceived as a basic identity threat. The ultimate sin. Its ‘moral code’ values inclusion and tolerance but it can be strangely unmerciful to targets who disagree and don’t fit in singling them out for humiliation; spewing out bilious insults that are astonishingly common online. Typical character of an ever shifting fancy of any and every crowd.

Perplexing is the fact that in the true sense of things, an individual’s identity should be based on the basic standard of justice and virtue that are deeper and more permanent than the shifting fancy of the crowd.

Yet we live in an era of an omnipresent social media that is constantly rewriting the boundaries of public and private, exterior and interior therefore it is vital for every social media subscriber to possess a compass vision of an ultimate good. To individually discover and name a personal true north that is made of a defined novelty worth defending even at the cost of unpopularity and exclusion.

The Telescope


Only Kenya allows public servants to wallow in luxury at the expense of tax payers. Reports of a ball point pen being bought for Sh8,500 have drawn outrage.

And in as much as the Devolution ministry is under the spotlight for unprecedented expenditure, the extravagance cuts across all public institutions at both government and county levels.

Our thieving prowess has reached the ears of Robert Mugabe- who, himself, has a piteous record. Bob has mocked Kenyans as graduating with Bachelor of Stealing. Our negative image of reaping where we did not sow is trending worldwide.

Meanwhile, the thorny debate over the use of proceeds from the Eurobond reportedly stashed somewhere in Timbuktu or lying in individuals’ accounts is yet to be resolved. The financial crisis is real with the shilling trading for 102 to the dollar, inflating the cost of living.

However, the Jubilee leadership insists the picture is not as bad as the Opposition paints it.

We are reaping the fruits of our laid back attitude. A few years back investigators named the drug dealers within, we largely ignored the expose.We were told there were thieves stashing money abroad, we looked the other way. They told us tribalism was gnawing at the fabric of our nation, we ignored the warning.

“We were told there were thieves stashing money abroad, we looked the other side. They said the economy was shaky, we wasted more”

They told us the economy was headed to the abyss, we wasted more. They pointed out the plunderers amongst us but we instead clothed them in silk. And now we are raving and ranting on both Facebook and Twitter, impotently. Such apathy in no solution to our socio-economic and political predicament.

Investigation results

Public servants suspected of plunder must-step aside pending investigations. Efforts to save image by shifting blame will not do. Leaders with integrity issues should not undermine the public’s intelligence.

In the case of the Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, the uproar, away from the sideshows is not personal culpability but rather integrity. She should take responsibility and step aside and wait for investigation results and shame her tormentors.

Most leaders imagine Chapter Six of the Constitution refers to “other” people and not them. They engage in hate speech and cry foul when questioned. We need stronger laws to arrest and charge such foul mouths to deter others who might be tempted to follow suit.

Many government officials face ethical challenges but when confronted, retreat into their political parties or tribal cocoons. Unless we deal with these ethical and integrity hurdles without fear or favour, we shall be confronted with social upheaval with devastating consequences.

President Uhuru Kenyatta should calm the fears by dealing with the looters. Mere rhetoric only fuels anger among overburdened tax payers. I rest my case.

This article was published on People Weekend on 7-8, November, 2015

The Telescope


There is an epidemic in our culture and it is disheartening. Most of it is unwarranted and unprovoked. It hides behind a cloak of anonymity in the social networking universe that has engulfed our generation.

Cyber bullying is a relatively new yet potentially harmful phenomenon in which people use technology such as computers or mobile phones to harass, threaten, humiliate or otherwise hassle their peers and today, it is spinning out of control.

Moreover, in this unbridled territory of social media there have been few consequences fcyberbullyingor cyber bullies’ actions and little punishment for their crimes whereas the dangers posed by cyber bullying are not in the breadth of its perpetrators and victims, but rather in the depth of damage that online aggression causes or can possibly cause. According to a recent report, Kenyans mostly those who are active on social media are witnessing a growing number of tragedies from cyber bullying, mostly addressed to women.

In a world of catastrophic headlines and sensational sound bites, the startling exposure reveals that nearly 57 per cent or three people out of five use social media to get help, emotional support or practical advice for their real life problems thus exposing themselves to cyber bullying. Shockingly, most cyber bullying incidents in the country go on unabated.

Cyber bullying is a real problem that we are facing and it is about time the government enacts policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users our institutions and societies.

Tragic accounts of youth and even adults in places of influence in government who have been tormented through social media, emails, texts or instant messages are only a click away and have the capability of producing pages of results.

It is about time the government enacted policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users. There is a great deal of power in the internet but its use calls for wisdom, which most cyber bullies lack.

It is the government’s job to start bridging that gap. Times are also changing, requiring government to be above the tech-savvy lot that can easily over turn things through cyber space, by educating us, encouraging vigilance as good citizens, and creating a system of accountability and consequences.

We also have to begin giving youn2013-02-25-11.52.31g people, especially teens, the tools that will help empower them and not let bullies take away their self-esteem.

Cyber bullying is serious and we need to treat it as such. The fact is, this sort of social behaviour by others is unconscionable.

There are cyber-mobs with gang-like mentalities that need to be clamped down. Now, more than ever, we are living in a culture of digital cruelty and it is not only with our youth it trickles down from the top, from reckless adults that should know better.

However, I believe that as much as we are the problem, we can also be the solution. Instead of using the Internet to hurt someone, use it to empower people and make others feel good about themselves. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep scrolling.

Life is short. Spend your time here wisely and be kind to people.

This article was published on People Weekend on 24-25, October 2015