I agree with disgruntled leaders, the census was flawed

Monday, November 11th, 2019 08:13 |

I watched with spiced bemusement the other day the uproar by leaders in Tharaka Nithi, Wajir, Garissa and other areas I cannot locate on the map of Kenya over the results of this year’s national census.

Now you recall the census. That night when a fellow called Matiang’i, he of the permanently knitted brow, made it illegal for me to enjoy my favourite tipple at my local.

Folks there missed me that day. You see, I act as the moderator when debate goes out of hand. Debate, you ask? Yes. About anything and everything. Abortion, euthanasia, livestock rearing, voo doo, cultism, politics, current affairs, mipango ya kando and its advantages, the lot. It is a ‘bunge la mwananchi’ of sorts.

Please feel free to visit me there for a live demo of what modern social discourse is about. At my cost, of course (which I know the locals will help offset, without your knowledge). You will sit an elbow away from juicy, finger-licking mutura and tripe, so you start to imagine the sheer delight of an evening under the stars. Wacha tu!

But that’s for another day.

I was telling you about census night. Some folks at some outfit called bureau of statistics (is that the name?) will tell you how it caused them sleepless nights.

Those guys already know everything. From the number of packets of ugali you folks eat per year to how much rain people out there in Thurdibuoro, Tseikuru, Logologo, Ngangarithi, North Kanyamkago, Ngarariga, Shika Adabu, Mishomoroni or Gaichanjiru will receive next year.

So, if we start from the premise that the folks at the bureau know all this stuff, why spend billions of shillings to do a census? Waste of good cash, if you ask me. But let us discuss that another day.

If a census is meant to tell us how many we are (which the bureau already knew, anyway), the last one was a complete waste of time and funds.

I know for sure there are places where the so-called enumerators (fancy name that!) achieved little. Like among the Somali.

My friend Hassan Ogle, who does business in Garissa has told me countless times that “sisi woriah habana esabu watoto haaaye! Kama nakuja kusabua, mimi namambia wewe, haaaya ndio hawa, hesabu mwenyewe!

I am certain no sane Somali or Borana man will parade his clan and tell you, here, these are my four wives and 17 children.

Talking of children, the chap who came to count my clan asked my Form Three son if he operates a canoe. I asked the young man if he thought my son had seen a canoe to start with!

You can see what I was telling you. The government spends billions of shillings to come asking my son if he owns a canoe! The chap laughed out aloud.

This census thing is more dramatic back in the village, where my uncle Habbakuk lives.

You see, apart from the family enumerators can see and “count”, there are others who belong there but live elsewhere. And not siblings, if you see what I mean. Do you?

That means this man of the house in village ‘A’ is also the man of the house in village ‘B’, not very far. And not by fluke.

In the same breath, the same man is father to two children in some household in Nairobi, where he pays rent and is referred to as “daddy”.

So, if the government checks its details properly, they will find one man’s name features as the man of the house in four or five homes. If that is not a conundrum, tell me what is!

It is a pity this census thing was done at night. Which means the “enumerators” were unable to see that a boy in house ‘X’ closely resembles another in house ‘Y’. If you know, you know!

I am trying to say if the government so wants, it can establish many things, which society does not see or is unwilling to.

If you ask me, the next census should be done in broad daylight. Natural sunlight can shed light on many things, literally.

Before I forget, why would the government want to know what sort of ceiling my house has?

Have a sense-filled day! 

– The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily

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