What again is a revolution….
Middle class revolution…this week someone sent me definition for the meaning of revolution. The small deeds I had listed in my previous blog seem not to have impressed on his definition of revolution.
I don blame him. However, in my defense, they forget that for some of us that have been asleep for the longest time, even these small steps are so big in our eyes.
I guess you can only understand if you are in the smack middle of this apathy, when all in you screams ‘KEEP OFF’ ‘DON GET INVOLVED’ ‘LOOK FOR A BACKUP PLAN’ POLITICS IS A DIRTY GAME’ ‘YOU CANT CHANGE MUCH SO JUST JOIN THE BANDWAGON’. The list is endless, of very strong voices in my head that call me back to my comfort zone.
So when I scream that I will have a voice in this election, believe me that is a revolution. When I scream that my vote will count for something; when I say that I will engage the leaders at my first opportunity; when I say I will not vote in a populist just because he has rallied ‘my people’ behind him; when I say I will not vote in a leader that has been in politics for the last ‘n’ years but has very little to show for it, believe me in my world that is a revolution, and I suspect so it is in many others.
The giving revolution
But perhaps the revolution that I am more passionate about, the revolution that I must see through to the end is the revolution of the middle class, the high class, the low class learning to give. As a nation we must learn to stretch our hands out to those who need our help the most.
The other day I read an article of how philanthropy in Kenya is mainly done by foreigners and as a new trend, the bigger organizations as part of their CSR. I salute these organizations; I salute the foreigners who will give a helping hand.
But I believe we Kenyans, the ‘ma-ordinary’, we cannot be left out. We must get uncomfortable and get what hurts most in the picture, our monies. Yes we need to give our time to those who need our help but mine is a call for money. My experience has been where my money goes my time follows as well.
You could ask what I am talking about, if you have read my other blog posts you probably know where I am headed with this.
The long list of needs
This is the point I am trying to make. In this nation we have a lot of needy people, you could easily call yourself one of them, but just take a step out of your life and you will see just how wrong you are. There are people whose daily meal is at question, there are people who will not go through even the free primary education coz at the end of the day they have younger siblings who will require a meal from them rather than the free education they are getting. There are girls whose life will never include some form of education as they will be married off at some tender age, let us not even talk about the mutilation of their genitals. We have problems.
Can these problems be sorted out by one person perhaps not.
That is reason number one why I really must get bothered by who will be the president of this nation, or who will be the governor. It is reason number one for why these tribal groupings called coalitions will just not do for me. It is the primary reason why no wave will sweep me into voting the same old crop who for some reason imagine that after we give them a bigger title they will change my world yet they have been governing me for the last ‘n’ years. It is reason number one for why I aint interested in a populist. I will take a risk in some guy who probably needs more experience but to be honest that is a risk I can live with than this guy who 10 days after they are crowned ‘king’ I can bet the story will revert to status quo. I need a leader who can deal with the many problems this nation faces. The real poverty that I come face to face with daily. The real unemployment that is the story of many young people in this nation. The real tribalism that has left many homeless. I need a real leader.
But the other thing I can do and must do is give, to realize I have a part to play in the future of this country. Partly coz as I give I receive.
But mainly because it is irresponsible of me not to.
You see it is easier for me to throw stones at our leaders when even the little I can still do not do!
I have said before that the most successful nations were built on a culture of giving. Ask the Americans, the foundation of the American Revolution was on philanthropy. P Alexis de Tocqueville referred to them, “voluntary associations”—which is to say, “private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life”. Americans, he said, did not rely on others—government, an aristocracy, or the church—to solve their public problems; rather, they did it themselves, through voluntary associations, which is to say, philanthropy. This is what I am trying to say, believe it or not, philanthropy creates responsible citizens, it is an enemy to apathy, it begs all to actually look at the society we live in and play some part in it.
Yes I am back to those words apathy. We as a nation have looked away for long. We have perfected the art of inward looking and finding back up plans, then once in while throwing stones at our leaders. But we must do more, otherwise we cant expect any real change in our society.
As a nation we must find a way of creating GIVERS or PHILANTHROPERs (if there is such a word). We must find a way of looking away from selves to others. Private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life.
I always say if you are reading this blog you definitely can afford to give. If it means you walk away from a few luxuries, reduce your talktime, skip lunch once a week, skip that investment, you can give. It just needs to be a priority. I have in the past asked us to give 10%, to commit at least 10% to go to someone who needs it more than we do, I hope we have and are.
So assuming we are on the same page, I often get asked where to give. I will introduce a new concept.
A giving circle. You know the way we have many chamas that help us pool cash and invest in something substantive. Well that is what a giving circle only in this case, you pool cash to give.
The benefit, you are then able to have a higher impact, you know the ‘haba na haba hujaza kibaba’. It means my Shs 2 is aggregated with another’s Shs 2 that makes something substantive. The other benefit, it means your giving is consistent. Each month you send ‘n’ amounts to your circle, it means that giving stops being the one off thing you do when you feel God has super blessed me this month, or the ‘mabakshish’ thing, it is planned for. Constant. But finally also that the headache of who where the money goes to in a way stops being a one man’s headache but a whole group of people.
There is a reason why philanthropy provided the conceptual model and voluntary associations the procedural model, for the American Revolution. So when I speak of middle class revolution, yes I call you and me to vote. Yes I call you and me to take part in the politics of the day, but the revolution I call you to most is the giving kind. The tested and tried revolution of the ‘big nation’. There is a space the giving or philanthropy creates that is like no other. And we really must take this space.
So how do you get in a giving circle, well it is simple. You can actually form one with people you know; it is as simple as that. We are also in the process of setting one up (I pray I stop praying this away and actually get it done). But whatever you do, commit to give. And do it now … don’t wait until you are “rich.”
So should I call it a middle class giving revolution? I hope so.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11: When, in a settlement in the land that God your Lord is giving you, any of your brothers is poor, do not harden your heart or shut your hand against your needy brother. Open your hand generously… Make every effort to give him, and do not feel bad about giving it, since God your Lord will then bless you in all your endeavors, no matter what you do. The poor will never cease to exist in the land, so I am commanding you to open your hand generously to your poor and destitute brother in your land.