- Apr 17, 2009
AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR INTELLIGENTSIA
Dear Wasomi,A Letter
If this letter is bitter it is because the times we are passing through are very bitter indeed. And if it is hyper-critical it is because it is more a self-criticism than a criticism.
Since shaking off the shackles of colonialism twenty years ago, this nation is for the first time going through the gravest economic crisis. The toilers of this land, millions of its working men and women, are groaning under the weight of the crisis and yet its intelligentsia – its intellectual conscience – sleeps soundly: nay, it doesn't only sleep soundly.
It plans and schemes, confers and conspires to advance itself, to better itself. It has given up even its own profession. It doesn't read, it doesn't write, it doesn't paint, it doesn't sing and satire. It's too busy: it is busy calculating: calculating: calculating the next imprest; the next pay rise; the net trip abroad. Busy soliciting invitations to conferences abroad any busy figuring out the ten per cent cut in the next contract.
Meanwhile the nation bleeds. As the nation's wounds become deeper and deeper, the authorities-that-be have less and less bandages to cover them Bandages, like everything else, are in short supply.
In rags, the nation's children roam the streets, invading heaps of dirt and crumbs in search of the next meal; while hotels, restaurants and bars lack sitting space. They fail to cope with increased demand. We eat and eat and over-eat.
We consume while millions of our country-men suffer from consumption. And gloatingly spit out such wisdom as: Produce more'.
Professions, the theoretical vanguard of intellectuals, are now the practical rearguard of the nation. There are few lawyers pursuing justice and fewer doctors saving lives. There are only lawyer-merchants and doctor-merchants and, of course, merchant-merchants.
New type merchants. The old type converted goods and services into commodities. Their banner was quid proquo, Shylock's pound of flesh. The new merchants thrive on lack of commodities. Their banner: quids only, no quos and they take not only flesh but insist on blood as well.
The legendary scales of justice need a heavy weight on one side to rub off the rust and make it function. The Hippocratic Oath that the medics take is more hypocrisy in practice than a noble undertaking to serve.
And yet it is such a crisis situation that calls for the practice of principles that intellectuals and the profession as hold so high and write so many tomes about. Truly, the damnation of the ‘respected intelligentsia' by one of Gorky's characters in the novel Foma Gordeyev, fits us well.
For shame, you are the sap of our country, you whose very existence has been bought with the blood and tears of tens of generations of Russians – shame on you! Lice, that's what you are! What have you cost you country!
And what are you doing for her? Are you turning the tears of the past into pearls? What have you ever done to make life better? What have you ever done that was worth doing? Allowed yourselves to be defeated! And what are you doing now?
Allowing yourselves to be made a laughing stock of.
Or does it? History will tell!
11th, July, 1981
Hii barua imetolewa katika kitabu kiitwacho Intellectuals at the Hill, Essays and Talks 1969-1983, DUP,1993, Second Reprint, Page 56
Nimeisoma hii barua na kugundua kuwa:
a) Karibu yote yaliyoandikwa ni kweli kweli tupu
b) Wanaozungumziwa humu wakati huo walikuwa maofisa wa kawaida , hivi sasa ndio viongozi wetu wanaotuletea EPA, Radar, Ndege ya Rais, Loliondo, Richmond, you name it.
c) Kama tungetafakari na kuyafanyia kazi yaliyomo kwenye barua hii hayo juu yasingetokea