By George Kimando
I think i have made reference to this story before.
A while ago, a relative of mine shocked a friend of mine. I had introduced them when my friend wanted a service from the government agency my relative works for.
The relative provided the service in record time, and concluded the matter without the slightest suggestion of ‘kurudisha mkono’.
My friend, in the typical Kenyan way, sent my relative ‘kitu kidogo’ on MPesa for the assistance.
Wueh! My relative was livid, and called my friend with a concise piece of mind: what i did for you was no favour, am paid a salary for that; you are the people who give the civil service a bad name, even after initiating such dealings; had i known that was your thinking, i won’t even have intervened; you’ve insulted and embarrassed me!
And with that admonition, the ‘kitu kidogo’ was promptly reversed with a sound warning of ‘never again’.
My friend was shocked beyond words.
They are both readers of this column, and won’t go to the details.
A distinguished gentleman am privileged to know, also a reader of this column, recently shared an almost similar experience.
As a young corporate operator in charge of awarding contracts to dealers for the multinational company he worked for then, a friend of his from college days applied to be a dealer.
After seeing the application, this gentleman declared his association with the friend and indeed excused himself from the panel reviewing the dealer applications.
Without his participation, the friend was awarded the contract purely on merit.
What did the friend do?
He visited this gentleman with an ‘envelope’ (if you are Kenyan you understand that, right?) to thank him for assisting him get the lucrative dealership. He never imagined he got the contract on merit.
Now, this is the interesting bit. This gentleman actually cancelled his friend’s contract!
Why so? He felt it would start on the wrong note and send the wrong signals; that the friend would cut corners, perhaps compromise quality of their products and services, and expect protection from him.
I can almost hear a ‘WHO DOES THAT?! IS HE EVEN KENYAN?!’ cry of disbelief. Yes he did, and he is Kenyan.
Reminded me of one of the fundamental tenets taught by Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, on avoiding what he calls ‘The Occasion of Sin’.
From the onset, right from your thoughts to your words and actions, the trajectory of your value system and moral stand should be clear.
There is no middle ground, he says, between sin and righteousness, vice and virtue, right and wrong. Your contemplation and choices make the end result so.
To underline the tenet, one moderator of a retreat organized by the congregation once told us, ‘you cannot go drinking and getting intoxicated with some woman (we were all men) in seclusion, stuff happens, and then you start blaming the devil; that’s stupid, stop giving the devil that much credit and take responsibility of your actions!’.
But i digress.
Why are we so cynical about goodness, virtue, righteousness and right that it shocks many of us when it’s done without expectations?
Are we so much used to vice, wrong, sin, mediocrity and corruption that we get mesmerized when it doesn’t happen when we expect it to?
It starts with the self, you and me, normalizing doing the right thing without expectations.
Interestingly, almost everybody desires this kind of ‘normal’, yet we are so afraid of it when it presents.
Let’s give ourselves a challenge this week. Can i do the right thing without enticement or expectation, be that change i desire?
Have a normalizing right day, and a great week ahead.