Tuesday, December 25, 2012



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
December 25, 2012

Since it is the festive season in memory of the birth of the most enduring historical figure that ever traversed this earth, let me too take leave of my daily pain and politics and look at the little things that we hardly pay attention to under normal circumstances.

In this regard, let me take this early opportunity to thank all my readers, editors, friends and family for having walked with me through 2012. I wish you merry Christmas and a blessed 2013.

I know a number of you may have noticed my reduced appearance on the local scene and must have wondered what might have happened. A number of you with sharp intuition guessed it right and actually called. Yes, I have been in hospital again for the last six weeks suffering from the same old condition.

Some of you may recall when I filed a story from Khartoum, North Sudan in late November this year. I had gone there in high spirits to run a project for three weeks for the Darfur political movements. Everything went smoothly for the first eight days until one afternoon, hell broke loose.

I must thank the staff of the International Republican Institute who rushed me to the nearby private hospital and the wonderful medical staff in Khartoum who did all they could to stabilize me for close to 10 hours before I was evacuated to Nairobi.

As I lay in my Nairobi hospital bed, I saw many things on the political scene. I saw Nelson Mandela share in my predicament way down in South Africa. I saw President Zuma win the ANC when others had written him off. I saw elections in Ghana go smoothly without any serious street madness.

On the local scene, I saw political mergers left and right. I saw high level political backstabbing, betrayal and conmanship of the highest order in my country.
But I also saw good and realistic Kenyans who saw their limitations and formed respectable exit strategies from the presidential race.

I saw good politicians who through sheer foolishness throw their political careers into the dustbin in broad daylight. I saw political hyenas masquerading as supporters leading their victims to the slaughter houses. I saw political cowards refusing to face the electorate in open nominations. I saw egocentric self styled clean individuals still entertain the illusion that they would be Kenya’s 4th president. I saw merchants of political deals trade places again and again, abandoning their parties without the slightest guilt.

On this hospital bed, I saw the second Tana Delta massacre come to me live on my television screen and I wondered aloud what on earth had gone wrong with my society.
On that bed I wondered aloud where our government and its security arsenal were.
On that bed, I waited to hear any serious condemnation and the steps to take to capture the murderers.
I never had any.

While lying on my bed, it dawned on me that just because I was bedridden, the Electoral commission had chosen to disenfranchise me just like it had done to many Kenyans in hospitals, prisons and overseas despite the low turnout of voters in rural villages. And now, like millions of Kenyans, I will not elect my leaders because the IEBC had decided my fate. Yes, in their wisdom, my vote would not matter just because I was hospitalized!

Being in hospital can be lonely. It is only when you are confined there in prisonlike uniforms and a tag on your wrist do you realize that your release is not in your hands. The doctor is king there. He is the Alfa and Omega. His orders are gospel truth for the nursing fraternity.

If he orders 20 different drugs to be administered at the same time, nurses will strive to carry out the order irrespective of the patient’s welfare. It is only when a patient throws up do they express shock and frantically call the doctor only for the doctor to administer more and anti-vomiting ammunitions.

It is in the hospital where you will discover that there are two types of healthcare personnel.
You will find one set that is diligent, intelligent, ethical and caring. This lot will strive to do everything right in the interest and for the comfort of the patient. They will smile, greet you and say goodnight to you on arrival and departure. They will know you by your first name rather than by your ward number.

However, in the same institution, you will find rough, ill-trained, rude and downright reckless and careless individuals. This is the group that gets easily irritated by patients.
It is the lot that an emergency bell means nothing to. You can ring the bell until the cows come home and when they appear at the door, you can read anger and venom written all over their faces.

There is one thing in a hospital that has become the tormentor of people of all ages. No matter how many times one has faced the syringe in the past; it is always a new and different experience. The degree of pain depends on that nurse that administers it. Some are downright malicious and seem to enjoy the pain they are inflicting on the poor soul.

After all is said and done, I suppose when one is lonely and confined in hospital or prison; the moment of reflection truly flourishes. It is when one realizes the little things that matter in life. The true meanings of freedom and happiness blossom.