OPINION

In the spirit of transparency, I declare my wealth

It hit me like a thunderbolt, this thing of lifestyle audit ordered by the President. I still do not see why folks are shaking like leaves in the wind.

 Maybe those targeted are the genius types. You know them: the guys who are elected into public office and become overnight millionaires.

 They start as ordinary folks whose shiny, oversized trousers could not cover his socks. The most he may have spent on a shirt is Sh300, and that is what we refer to as “previously enjoyed”. Calling it mtumba is being disrespectful. Excuse me!

 A few months down the line and the folks start telling us about designer labels such as Yves St Laurent, Christian Dior, Emporio Armani, Gucci, Michael Kors (for watches) and such like. A shirt costs the equivalent of his former house rent.

The status changes drastically and dramatically. The old car, a Japanese model that stoically served him for 20 years is replaced by a German behemoth.

That is when they start to remind you that you drive a car but he toys around with an automobile. Your car has air conditioning but his has interior climate control. Of course, you swig local beer while he sips Scottish whiskey. I am sure you get the drift by now.

 I was telling you about wealth declaration, otherwise referred to as lifestyle audit. I still cannot, for the life of me, fathom why folks are quaking in their fake Italian boots about this thing.

 What is so hard about saying what you own and where it came from? Unless the source is suspect, which means you are the guy they have been whispering about.

 In the spirit of transparency, I have decided to declare what I own, in the hope that even my domestic servant will do the same. How she can buy shoes from the same shop as her employer is a story that must be narrated in the presence of a public officer.

 But let’s start with me. My biggest asset is a contraption held together by rust and the grace of God. I have to coax it to start in the mornings, which means I wake up long before my neighbours so that if there are issues with, like giving it a push, they are available.

 After pushing it across the estate, it finally agrees to cooperate. But that is after issuing plumes of smoke and starting with a staccato burst of life, which jerks me until my breakfast dissolves in my insides.

 Occasionally when it refuses to drink fuel because the filter is clogged, I place a jerrycan of fuel in the bonnet and connect some hose directly so the fuel is syphoned open air. We call that direct injection but let’s leave that topic for now.

 I also own an ageing sofa set (I lovingly call it settee), which sags in the middle, so that anyone sitting there is folded like a letter V. In that position, you cannot eat a lot of food, which is a plus for me.

 The sofa also acts as a habitat for a few rodents, which skirt about so visitors do not stay long as they lift their feet in horror at the sight of these illegal squatters in my residence. I also own two suits and a couple of shirts, threadbare vests and socks and what my son Michael calls a bomber jacket.

 This is how I buy my suits: I go to Gikomba open-air market and buy a jacket. It will remain unused until I secure its trouser, which may happen in Ngara or Kangemi market and voila! The suit is complete. It matters precious little how the suit comes together.

 And God bless those late night hawkers in pubs on River Road, Haile Selassie and Nyamakima areas who ensure I select fairly exquisite ties as I swig my favourite brew. A tie sets me back Sh100. Ties can be so costly!

 Since I see fridges in adverts in a certain free newspaper, I buy just enough food for the day. A quarter kilo of beef stashed in my inside jacket pocket ensures I will sleep on a full stomach, regardless of the hour I get home.

That also means any extra squatters, such as cockroaches, even visiting ones from neighbours, routinely die of starvation. This tactic works like magic. Ah! Yes, we were forgetting livestock. I own a one-legged chicken, which is threatening to stop laying eggs any time now. It is just as well, since a thieving neighbour, Coco, a lanky youth with Kinky, unwashed hair has been carting the eggs away.

 I am yet to tell you of my kerosene stove, which cooks my kaquarter beef pretty well but has to be extinguished outside the house using a few drops of water because the fumes easily qualify for a nuclear arsenal.

 What else does anyone want to know? My boxers? Lets not even go there.

 Have a free-spirited week, folks!

The writer is Special Projects editor, People Daily

  

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