Kenyan shilling notes bearing the portrait of the first president of Kenya, the late mzee Jomo Kenyatta
No nonsense activist, Okiya Omtata is back again with another matata, just a month after losing Busia senatorial race — which I think he lost because he wasn’t well-known in Busia, and also he was running on an Independent ticket in an ODM dominated region — to the incumbent, former attorney general Amos Wako. He has given the Central Bank of Kenya an ultimatum to stop the circulation of the outlawed currency bearing portraits and images of individuals, as stipulated in Article 231(4) of the Constitution.
In a letter he wrote the CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge, he demanded the CBK stop the circulation of the currency with immediate effect as follows:
“This letter is to demand that within seven days from today, the CBK publicly declares that it will with immediate effect begin withdrawing all unconstitutional currency notes and coins from circulation and replace them with those that don’t bear the image of any individual… Kindly note that failure on your part to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution as required will necessitate our recourse at the Rights division of the High Court of Kenya for orders compelling your compliance.” — wrote Okiya Omtata
I fully support him. The drafters of the current Constitution were not stupid. They knew why it was not proper for a few individuals to engrave their faces on money in a diversified country such as ours. Our Currency as much as it’s not among the National symbols, is supposed to be a unit of peace and hence advertise nothing else but our diversification, our spirit of togetherness as a people and our abundant natural resources and incredible physical features.
Furthermore using images of individuals makes those affiliated with them start looking down on others in a demeaning manner. People start carrying themselves around like demigods, like they own others just because their fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, nephews, friends, neighbors, or people of their tribe are on the currency. It makes some of us feel like slaves in our own country. It must stop, and thank God the Constitution is backing me on this.
We have so many things we can put on our currency in place of Jomo Kenyatta’s, Daniel Torotich Arap Moi’s, or Mwai Kibaki’s face. We have many beautiful physical features, some of which are already embroidered on our notes but still a lot more with outstanding beauty like the Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru with its thousands of flamingoes. We have the Lake Bogoria hotsprings, the Crying Stone in Kakamega County, Kit Mikayi in Seme or Lake Victoria with its hundreds of fishermen floating in canoes, fishing. And why not use Migingo Island! Its ours, right?
And if Mr Njoroge and his board of directors are still struggling, boy I got them more tips. Kakamega is known for bull fighting, and the site of two muscled untamed bulls taking on each other in a duel of life and death is usually breathtaking. Get honourable Bonny Khalwale, “Bonyfighter” — now that he has plenty of time — the Western Kenya bullfighter to get you started. The doctor has unrivaled experience on that front.
We also have the agriculture sector that for years has been the backbone of our economy, why not use it. I know you have been parading tea and coffee, high-five for that but they’re not the only cash crops. If you are not aware, we also have khat, ” mirra” from Meru, horticultural crops like the roses that’s giving our country lots of revenue and the sugarcane. In Western Kenya, growing up it was the main cash crop that was unfortunately overlooked. The consequence was the collapse of the Mumias Sugar company, causing a crisis in the country’s sugar sector that we have all witnessed. You can place a sugarcane on the note somewhere close to the serial number — Just saying.
We have many natural features too in Kenya that we can use in place of the wazee. We have the fantastic big five — lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and the rhino — and other wild animals. We have the marvelous, and one of the 8th world wonders that periodically takes place, the Wildebeest migration. Take off Kenyatta’s face, take off Moi’s face, take off Kibaki’s face and put there the stampeding beasts as they try to safely make it across the crocodile infested Mara River in Masai Mara, tailed by the indomitable lions.
I heard the complains from the CBK about the billions — Sh18 billion — required to facilitate the transition over a three – year period. But what about the billions that we keep losing while putting their portraits of successive presidents. Or you can just visit former presidents, Moi, Kibaki or Kenyatta’s family and ask them to help finance you. After all they have been the beneficiaries.