By Immanuel Lokwei, Long Mouth Social Forum
Whenever whips -overlook their inhumane implication for a sec- were used to nudge donkeys forward, there was a perceptual problem that the whip-crackers felt compelled to solve. The urge to respond to the problem served as a reason behind this choice of action. If similar whips were available, and that they functioned to propel social and moral progress, would there be any use to try them on Turkana youths?
Well, regardless of our imaginative powers, such an infamous possibility offers no practical prospect for two main reasons: One, force or pain is the worst incentive for moral change. Second, Turkana youths lack tangible problems that a behaviorist and an economist can identify and prod, and therefore our application would not be justifiable. The second reason might sound out of place especially considering the harsh environment that these youths were born in. But let us say more about this second point.
There is no reason that can explain why Turkana’s progress mimics the walks of their emaciated animals. Look at their youths. What breeds in their (Turkana youths) mind? What dampened their zeal and what blurred their vision? We cannot claim that it is their inferior stature that has impeded the growth in their community for (if only they could remember) the burning sand growled silently under their feet and bowed to their spirits and can attest of their strength. Not even their unfavorable beginnings can excuse their place in development. Did their potential burn up on the way? It seems so, for the unclothed child who had passed through the bloodthirsty thickets with insurmountable gait now slacks as a man of an urbanized world.
When it comes to accountability, fingers point upward and sideways. Some Turkana youth bemoan the national government’s neglect and the local leadership’s defect. Aah! This is what we can ask Turkana youth; would you have look inward before stating your theory? No, you would not. For if you had, your conscience would have been burst into flames by a fact you so fear to confront. Your mother, Turkana land, is a goldmine of resources and talents, and she has endowed these sparks in you. You would have seen, only if you would have turned inward, that your abilities are the rich fragrance and adornment of your mother. But the mirror is too harsh a reality to face. It is much safe to point fingers upward and sideways. It is calming if others bear our blames.
You miss the point, exclaims the Turkana youth. Drought cannot be dealt with single-handedly. Floods and cholera epidemics require charitable godfathers. We need messianic organizations like World Vision. Who are we to act?
Well, look at other epidemics and places that these epidemics rule. Perhaps Lodwar can be excluded, for she likes topping the list of places most affected by AIDS. If you had just responded to this one epidemic accordingly, there would have been enough force to revolutionize your peoples’ minds. How could we have responded according? You ask. We reply, how did you become the victim? Find out why and you will find the answers you are searching.
Even if following your ideals means that the consequences of these epidemics were inevitable, much still could have been done. The same way you cannot blame your corrupt brother-leaders, you cannot claim that your interests and passions could not have promoted the communal good. An obsession with cold climates or the rural-urban migration should not stop one from investing in their motherland. If it is violence that initially stemmed your migration, then that very reason should have given you a mouthpiece to actively champion the cause. But you chose differently, and not because you are unable to have other options. You even turned deaf to the latest happenings in Lorogon, not because you forgot the place or because you could not spread the tragic news of atrocities committed there. You simply chose your way of living.
There is nothing that you lacked, Turkana youth, and even if there had been anything, you should have worked to fill that void. The lack itself should have been an incentive to push you forward. We cannot either claim that your priorities are misguided and therefore problematic. It is a fundamental right to exercise that freedom of choosing and so there is no problem in choosing your path. However, if your priorities were pursued steadily, your potential would not have been lost. Realizing your full potential generates social and moral progress. But again, we cannot really argue that your laid-back lifestyles are responsible for your communal underdevelopment. Responsibility can go hand in hand with nonchalant mentalities and non-economically oriented ideologies.
Like behaviorists and philanthropic economists we complain. We have failed to point out even a single defect, both in you and in your mother (Turkana), which can explain your slothful social and moral advancement. Our tools and goodwill have therefore become useless. Our imaginations have failed us too since there is no hope in the magical prodding whips. If only you had a real problem that we could fix, if only we could nudge you forward with a whip… but Turkana youth have no problems whatsoever that worries them (and us).