If you were to take the 50 km drive from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi up to the West Highlands and then down the s-curved, washed-out entrance leading to Kijabe Mission Hospital you would find a peculiar sight. Groups of boys ranging from 6 years old up to 15 with dirt in their palms and a facial expression of surprise, as if to say, “look what I have done” approaching and tapping on your window. It doesn’t seem like they are doing anything, until you look at the road (if you can call it that) a little closer. And you will begin to see that what the boys are doing. They are scooping dirt from hills and plugging the pot-holes on the road one-by-one. By doing such they give the driver a softer ride, and hopefully elicit a donation of few Kenyan Schillings. Of course, this road repair-job is a hopeless act, and only lasts until the next rainfall splashes the soil out of the pothole and back into the ditch; causing the potholes to widen and deepen.
After living in Africa through seven seasons the big problems Africa faces can become a little discouraging. And it can seem that youth filling potholes with dirt can epitomize the plight of Sub-Sahara Africa; plugging problems (joblessness, AIDS, woeful infrastructure, war, lack of healthcare, and government corruption) not with lasting solutions, but quick fixes that simply insure further deterioration.
Over the next few posts I want to take a look at the book “The Shackled Continent; Power, Corruption, and African Lives” by Robert Guest. Not an encouraging read at all, but necessary; as sometimes you can’t but help but ask, “Why Africa, do you have so many seemingly intractable problems?”