The tragedy of our chau­vin­ism bog­gles the mind

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

If we gave it sys­tem­atic thought, mem­bers of Kenya’s ed­u­cated class would be the first hu­man be­ings to of­fer to sacri­fice some­thing sub­stan­tial to en­able the Na­tional Trea­sury to cope with the cri­sis now stalk­ing Kenya. This would ig­nite a na­tional dis­cus­sion, prob­a­bly urg­ing mem­bers of the elite to of­fer to slash their own ex­ces­sive per­sonal salaries so that Kenya can avoid a na­tional catas­tro­phe.

In that way, the Trea­sury would have ini­ti­ated the process by try­ing to gal­vanise the po­lit­i­cal chief­tains into seek­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with the eco­nomic mag­nates in a con­trolled at­tempt to pre­vent the cri­sis from de­gen­er­at­ing into a na­tional catas­tro­phe. Yet, to my knowl­edge, the mind of a typ­i­cal mem­ber of Kenya’s “mid­dle class” has never worked quite like that.

The mid­dle class has never given any thought to the suf­fer­ing of other hu­man mem­bers of their own so­ci­ety. In that sense, mem­bers are not hu­man be­ings. The ex­treme an­guish, the hue and cry, the in­tense suf­fer­ing of small chil­dren among Kenya’s low­est classes, none of these catas­tro­phes has ever touched and will ever touch his or her mind. To the ex­tent that he or she thinks about his or her whole so­ci­ety, it is only about how that so­ci­ety can help him or her to in­crease his or her own per­sonal ma­te­rial ac­qui­si­tions. But I should stress “he”, “him” and “his” be­cause, in our so­ci­ety, de­ci­sions of that kind be­long squarely to the male so-called “part­ners”. Prac­ti­cally all of Kenya’s do­mes­tic and po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion­mak­ers are male chau­vin­ists.

It is with a wave of the hand that they ha­bit­u­ally dis­miss the thoughts and sug­ges­tions of their moth­ers, their wives and their daugh­ters. For them, then, the fe­male coun­ter­parts are noth­ing but chil­dren. They are but ma­chines by which the males man­u­fac­ture their own male heirs to the prop­erty that they have il­la­massed. No Kenyan or any other hu­man be­ing known to me has ever given any thought to the speed by which the hu­man species would has­ten its own devel­op­ment if, as a species, hu­man be­ings al­lowed their moth­ers, their sis­ters and fre­quently even their daugh­ters to be the cap­tains of all our strug­gles to thrive on this ex­tra­or­di­nary planet.

Never and nowhere known to me has the science of bi­ol­ogy sug­gested that males are bet­ter equipped than fe­males in the pro­duc­tion and re­pro­duc­tion of hu­man­ity’s sur­vival re­quire­ments. Yet in most of our world’s mar­i­tal sys­tems, the minds and hands of the fe­males do not count as be­long­ing to full hu­man be­ings and are ly­ing fal­low. Where is your vaunted spe­cific in­tel­li­gence when, even in the 21st cen­tury, you still rel­e­gate the thoughts and skills of more than half of you as count­ing for noth­ing? Where ex­actly is your vaunted spe­cific in­tel­li­gence when, in prac­ti­cally all of hu­man­ity’s so­ci­eties, a clob­ber­ing is what a fe­male is likely to get when­ever — like Europe’s Madame Curie — she pro­duces a thought or a tech­nique that re­duces all males to shame? Among a species de­fin­able by its hands and its brain, that is surely a plan­e­tary catas­tro­phe. For, if we used our brains and our hands to their fullest ca­pac­i­ties, we would be in a po­si­tion even to pro­tect all of the earth’s other species, es­pe­cially those that are vi­tal to our own spe­cific sur­vival needs, as di­rected by the hu­man brain and im­ple­mented by the hu­man hand.

That is why I use the ad­verb “specif­i­cally” here. For no other earthly species known to me pos­sesses even one of those two ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties — namely, to get hold of things through the hand, to be able to ex­am­ine them closely through the brain. Only hu­mankind has ever ac­quired such abil­i­ties on our planet.

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