LETTER TO CBK GOVERNOR,

Dear Mr. Njoroge,

We haven’t yet met, but I attended the Imperial Bank depositor’s meeting that you called for in December. I remember looking at the lined faces that filled the room and thinking that if anxiety had a physical form, you would have had to wade through a swamp of nerves to reach that podium. And yet at the same time if hope had the ability to lift, KICC would be soaring towards the searing sun.

There were two things you said in that meeting that have stayed with me ever since, and even then I was struck by how unusual it was to hear them coming from a Kenyan leader’s mouth.

The first was an apology to the depositors for not engaging with us earlier. In that moment something shifted for me. You didn’t believe an apology was beneath you. But even more important than that is you didn’t think of us as just bank account numbers, but real people whose life’s work was suspended by a straining string. That you acknowledged our humanity may appear irrelevant, but in a country where the humanity of its citizens is regularly actively invisibled, it is an act of dissent, a fierce commitment to respect life.

The second started with an admission that CBK itself, either by virtue of negligence or active participation, had to have played a role in this scandal, which by your admission is even bigger than Goldenberg or Ango Leasing. Then, you said (and I will have to paraphrase here) that even though it didn’t happen under your watch, it is now your responsibility. And that for me was the turning point. In Kenya, responsibility is a word that seems only ever to be used when spectacularly ducking it, or throwing it at someone else to apply blame. Yet you claimed it. And my hope turned into belief.

I want to clarify here that I am not talking about the remainder of the money, though I do want to thank you for facilitating the release of a portion. Since you had requested for a grace period of March to communicate the next steps, I shall respect that. And even as you work on a recovery plan, everything you have said so far leads me to believe that you have every intention of going after all those that were involved in robbing 53,000 people of their hard-earned money. That’s what this letter is about.

This is not a letter from me as an Imperial Bank depositor. This is a letter from one Kenyan to another. It is not easy being a Kenyan these days. The newspapers are filled with the evidence. We are being killed. We are being robbed en masse. We are being de-humanised, disrespected, silenced. And whilst this is more acute amongst those who do not enjoy a level of privilege, nobody is immune, except for the political elite who enjoy a distance from the experience of being Kenyan.

But I’ve said it before and I will say it again. This is not the Kenya I want my children to inherit. So I am compelled to do whatever I can to agitate for better. Change starts with us. As Kenyans we have to acknowledge that we simply cannot go on like this anymore. It is destroying us in ways that we can’t even see or feel yet. We have to decide that as a country that there can be no room for this thieving at the expense of everyone else mentality. These are defining times.

A great person who I am privileged to call my friend reminds me that the most effective way of taking back your power is by influencing change in the spaces you occupy, in the communities you are part of and in the spheres of your influence.

Mr. Governor, you sit at the centre of a very large space.

We currently live in a country of no consequence. Every day people are exposed for fraud so mindboggling massive our brains can’t wrap itself around the enormity. Every day people are literally stealing the future from our children. And absolutely nothing happens to them. We shake our heads, crack a joke, start a twitter trend and move on. Yet inside we are screaming as we break apart. The effect that this sense of helplessness has on our psyche as a people is enormous. It steals from us more than our money. It robs us of any agency over our lives. It literally destroys our spirit. And it is happening countrywide.

Even without realizing it, it changes our values, and we don’t recognize the impact that this has on us. Let’s be honest, most people are proven correct in their belief that it pays to be able pay someone off. Yet this whole big mess we are in shows that in the end it costs dearly. None of this is news to you obviously.

But it is profound. It tells us that our hard work will not be protected. And that is very dangerous. Once honest people feel that there is no point in doing the very necessary work that builds, sustains and lifts, we will become a nation full of Emperors walking down the streets buck-naked.

It has emerged that there were several parties involved in the Imperial Bank fraud. Even more worrying is that If CBK are complicit in this one case, where else have they been on the take, and what are the implications of this on our entire banking sector?

So just know, whatever you decide to do, whether you like it or not, will send out a very loud signal that will be heard. The message will either be that it is no longer acceptable to steal and get away with it, or that impunity will continue being the order of the day. I do not envy you. In Kenya, even more than other places in the world, it has become difficult to do the right thing. Not only is it more lucrative not to, sometimes it can be downright dangerous.

But as the wonderful Audre Lorde said, ‘we can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired’. And we are tired. And we are afraid. And you may get tired. And you may get afraid, but know that the people of this country are behind you.

You are at the cusp of making history.

This is the reason I have written this letter to you today. To tell you that in the great Kenyan spirit of Harambee, if you call for justice, your voice will be strengthened by the voices of at least 53,000 people. When I wrote this piece, within 24 hours it was read by over 35,000 people, which is highly unusual for a little personal blog. Kenyans are listening. We are with you.

Godspeed dear Governor.

Yours,
Aleya Kassam

P.S. to my readers, I am loathe to turn Chanyado into an Imperial mouthpiece, so regular programming will resume next week. I promise.

 

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33 thoughts on “LETTER TO CBK GOVERNOR,

  1. Wow… Very well said. Mr. Cbk governor please put yourself into the affected families shoes and because you are god in this, hasten delivery of your judgement

  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head! This CBK governor is not a pushover. He is as straight as they come. It won’t be easy you said, but someone’s got to do what is right! Loving yr posts. Keep them coming.

  3. Hello Chanyado. Just now discovering your blog…my apologies. Do not go back to regular programming, although I have to admit I have Gary a clue what that looked like. I’ll check after this post. Stay true to playing your bit..because if we continue doing nothing, we will implode. That’s for sure…

  4. Maybe one of the many approaches you’ve used in your article will serve better to wake all Kenyans in the realisation that we are on free fall to eminent catastrophe. Talking about our kids.

  5. Reading this restores great hope and YES ….”if you call for justice your voice will be Strengthened by the voices of Millions …”
    A very inspiring read !

  6. You definitely speak for many Kenyans. I need us to go back and think about values and the whole chapter 6 in the constitution. Let’s make history by operationalizing it.

  7. Wonderfullying eloquently spoken Aleya! You put my thoughts & emotions into words! Kenya is a beautiful country… it would be sad to lose it due to the selfishness of a rotten, corrupt few!

  8. I am not an Imperial Bank customer, but my heart goes out to all of them and other Kenyans who suffer the dehumanising consequences of systemic avarice that characterises our politics and economy. I thank you for this wonderful piece and for encouraging the CBK Governor to stick to the correct but slippery path he has taken on the matter. Right shall prevail on the basis of such individuals and steps. God bless Kenya.

  9. Reblogged this on Infinite Abundance and commented:
    Hmm I am glad to see a Kenyan write something heart felt rather than the usual “muchene”. Kenyans love gossip and that’s why jokes all over the internet and bedroom stories do the rounds. I hope we learn that those morals we were brought up with are the very fibre that holds society. If we tear them down we will be wiped out in our entirety. God bless Kenya!

  10. We must all speak greatness to those with the responsibility and ability to act. This blog does this so powerfully. Governor Njoroge, be great, act and restore our faith in the banking sector.

  11. orphaned in our native home were help could have come from.humanity stolen and killed,who will revive it if it’s being buried by our “fathers”(our own elected leaders).When that time come when every child effort is recognized and appreciated by the “father” humanity will be restored,

  12. We get to a point when are almost giving up. And all you can turn to is your mother because no one else understands when you are groaning in pain. Pain, apparently can cause revolution. Like the gentleman who set himself on fire in Tunisia to cause the Arab Spring

  13. The naked truth..the burden is overwhelming..for how we can sustain the pressure..God knows..God save Kenya for now and the future.

  14. Dear friend ,
    Thank you starting this voice and I wish to also say what’s on my mind. The people who have stolen the money of the more then 53000 people from imperial bank were involved with some senior officials of CBK. This kind of money could not have just left the bank without CBK knowing. Also the focus and blame is being put on someone who is already six feet under the ground Jan Mohammed . Whereas all the board of directors benefitted in one way or another then why are they not being investigated and jailed. Mr. CBK Governor should realise that they have brought people’s lives to a halt and some people were left with few shillings in their possession as the doors of the bank was closed. As one of the senior holder idiotically shades crocodile tears on tv to get sympathy from the depositors he laughs behind people’s backs as he walks freely and his family enjoying our money stolen by them. Mr. Popat should know that his days are numbered. Do they think that they are going to live forever ? Are they never going to join their compatriot Jan Mohamed ?
    I just wish to point out that the whole board of directors knew what was going on and now they have a good chance to point fingers at a dead man who can not speak ! Funny isn’t it ? Not for the depositors.
    There’s a simple mathematics
    Imperial bank had 54 billion in deposits
    They had given out 47 billion in loans
    7 billion excess cash was earning interest
    Would not the board question where the interest was in their weekly or monthly meetings ? At least this was officially shown in the books by the thieves !!!
    This is going to be the same case as the charter house bank . Today they are walking freely after stealing billions of shillings of the depositors and nothing has been done about it for years and years !!

  15. First time am reading from your blog from a link forwaded to me on whatsapp by a friend and my oh my, simply very well put.

  16. on one side it is a really worrying piece and on another quite inspiring and encouraging, I focus on the latter Keep up the good work!

  17. Very well put…. If we lack the zeal to create wealth, how will the nation prosper?
    Thank you for voicing what a lot of us have been feeling for the last couple of years.

  18. Well put….. A couple of years back there was a high school play that addressed issues of corruption and ethnicity in our country. Just like they have sequels in Hollywood, someone should reproduce that play in a more vivid, direct and objective manner and ultimately show how these evils affect us all in the long run especially with the coming elections so that people become more socially aware and politically conscious as they prepare to vote.

  19. The common man does not even know how he is robbed every minute of the day by the very people he elects to represent him.

    Who has the ability and the time to teach Our fellow citizens that by buying something as small as kiberiti, kerosene, a piece of bar soap, salt etc he is paying heftily to the government?

    On one of my trips home, I was shocked to find that petrol hadn’t gone down by an even margin it had been reduced by the Producers. Yet in a country like the one I live, the happen are just as good as automated.

    I love my country, but it scares me the direction our leaders are taking it, streepping and creating beggars of our once proud citizen.

    Kenyans, we cannot afford to take the road most countries citizens took and continue to take, but please teach our fellow brothers and sisters the power of the ballot, we are stronger than most we think.

    The steps we take, if they are bold enough, we will give change the history of our country for ever.

    In the spirit of Harambe, let’s fast educate our parents, brothers and sisters on how the government is run and wenz and how it acquires the funding.

    Let’s fight and bring change together as a nation, one nation, we are not a number, we are not a tribe, ” we are Kenya!

    Cheers.

    1. I second you on this.A good start is by sensitizing citizens and eradicating illiteracy because this plays a big role since the electorate do not vote objectively making this a big loophole for politicians to exploit.Its a long term solution but worth a short.

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