Jack Ma’s recent talk at the University of Nairobi was teeming with quotable quotes, but this one stood out for me: “…Look at Kenya, when I arrived yesterday, the speed (of internet), oh my God, I have never seen such a luxurious speed, much better than America. But I bet a lot of people still complain about the speed…”
Why did the remark stand out?
Because it’s so symptomatic of us Kenyans as a people to not appreciate what we have. We often plead with the government to deliver in diverse situations yet when it acts, we complain even more.
We dismiss projects as not good enough, that money was eaten, etc. We are never satisfied with the bird in hand, we always demand for the two in the bush, leaving outsiders puzzled.
For instance, the same day Jack Ma was giving his speech, I picked up a Kenyan who has lived in America for several years from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
We took the Southern Bypass to Kikuyu, and she could not stop whistling in wonder; “what, this feels just like America, feel how smooth the road is, see the lights…”
But the Kenyan, who is in the process of filing for American citizenship, said that even though she follows our news, she rarely hears of any development stories, only complaints and political bickering.
“I stream Kenyan news live online. What I hear makes me fear for the country, it makes me think that eventually we have realised the state we always heard while growing up, that of a banana republic,” she said.
But she pointed to other landmarks that made me realize that indeed we do not appreciate our country, its people and its development as we should. She had checked out through the Terminal 1 at JKIA, which has recently been refurbished.
“I mean, the terminal is more polished, more modern than many airports I have been to in the developed countries. I mean, even the walls are adorned with paintings from what I gather are the best artists in Kenya.”
Watching Jack Ma later on YouTube, without buffering, I agreed with him when he said that for people who love to complain, they will complain all their lives no matter what you do for them.
So now, driving around Nairobi, I am more aware of the bypasses, and how convenient they have made transport to be. The other day I used the newly opened Outer Ring Road from Thika Super Highway to Buru Buru in an instant, a journey that would have hitherto taken ages through the jam-packed Jogoo or Mombasa roads.
Now, I cannot wait to take the Madaraka Express, and cruise on the new SGR line, to truly free myself from negative vibes that might not be so good for personal development.
As Jack Ma, Asia’s richest man, told us in Nairobi; “I see so many successful people, business people, politicians, scientists, artists, I find one characteristic shared by all. They never complain, they are always optimistic and they partner with good people.”