Tumbo Lishiloshiba in the Kenyan Graft Anatomy.

Tumbo Lishiloshiba in the Kenyan Graft Anatomy.

Some time back, I took the pleasure of feeding some two dogs and I observed that one of them behaved selfishly. We often served the two dogs in their own plates and then I observed that one of them stopped eating its own food and went bulldozing the other and ended up eating its food as well.

I always stood there wondering what drove this dog to eat its own food and go on eating the other dog’s food, and I could see my country, Kenya. People have stomachs that don’t get full. They eat and eat and eat and never get filled. The eat their own and extend to eating others food as well.

The problem with appetite is that it can drive one to do even the unthinkable. People kill without hesitation because of appetite. Stealing even to the point of everything is another thing. People lose the dignity of humanity in thinking about other people simply because of appetite.

And appetite is one of the key things that fire up the belly of graft. To worsen matters, there are few drugs that can cure the malady of tumbo lishiloshiba.

A keener consideration of the issue takes us to the time when the first seed was planted. Once it germinated and was left to grow to maturity, the odds worked against us. And the funny thing with graft is that even if one chose to cut the stem, it would sprout again nevertheless. Unless it is completely uprooted and destroyed, it simply becomes a matter of resorting to our fate.

Jut like a stomach that doesn’t get full, continuous eating is the only solution. Like that dog, the psychological disposition that all the food needs to be mine irrespective of the fact that the other dog is their and needs to eat as well is the same DNA infusion into the system of graft that has evolved to becoming all manner of things; most of all the ghosts that deprive this great nation its great destiny year in year out.

When Menachem Seidenfeld decided to move out of his country in the USA in early 2000’s to go looking for green pastures, little did he know what impact graft would have in changing the course of his life. He had simply decided to send an application to a company looking for a CEO in Kazakhstan.

As luck could have it, he found himself heading Arna Inc. in Almaty. The ghosts of corporate graft and blackmail taught him a lot about the guys with power and the mafia. He became acquitted of a 40,000 dollars graft charges but after spending over a year and half in jail and in corridors of justice.

Decades later, he could narrate that his greatest fears were about finding true justice. He wondered what could have happened had justice been brokered and bought at the expense of what facts and truth presented in the courtrooms. In other words, what if the judge in the case and everybody else were members of the tumbo lishilohiba crew?

Facts are open that he could have spent over 10 years in jail. The point I am driving home is that despite the fact that graft can be dissected in the anatomy of every other country, ours is on a different level. The judge who served justice in the Seidenfeld case is an example of a people who choose to skip feeding one more spoon to the stomach that doesn’t get full so that the one with none can add a day in their life basket.

The danger today in my motherland Kenya is that the narrative has just changed to that of the tumbo lisiloshiba versus those who do the feeding. While the stomach is just feeding endlessly, those who feed it get malnourished with every spoonful they feed it.

On the extreme, the feeders too look forward to having the big stomach themselves. And just like that, it becomes a case of surrogates fathering endless stomachs that will never ever get full. The worst is fact that the stomachs themselves start envying the one that has opportunity of getting fed the most.

We have behaved as though this never filling stomach is part of our identity for so long, until if we become sick, the doctors undertake research on how to heal it as opposed to seeing it as a problem. We slowly noted this unusual growth and raised alarm maybe. But then we were told it is not malignant and so we should not fear.

Slowly it turned malignant and when the cry and pain became too loud for a surgery to cut it out be undertaken, the doctors said they could surgically suppress the pain but maintain the growth. Now it has become so advanced and reached a stage we have been told that it is too late. Undergoing a surgery would mean very little and so we should simply enjoy the short life that we have left as we await death.

But I choose to disagree with the doctors, we better die now than wallow in the slow and most painful death of all. At least it will be said of us that indeed we tried our best. I disagree that the tumbo lisiloshiba is part of my mama’s anatomy. And if I could agree, then I too have the same in my anatomy. I choose to undergo a surgery to cut out this stomach that never fills.

For once, I choose to stop by and fight back and denounce that graft defines us. It is we who define graft and hence, have an opportunity change its definition. If we will never do anything at personal level, then we are to blame and not graft itself.



Tumbo Lishiloshiba is a Swahili word for a stomach that never gets full.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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