Henry Munene takes a swipe at young inheritors who sell and blow family fortunes overnight
Nairobi is full of men and women with dramatic ‘swagger’ who drive top-of-the-range SUVs, wear the most expensive colognes and live at addresses that transport the mind to a land overflowing with easy money.
These mostly young and upwardly mobile people are not in most cases as rich as they appear. The designer clothes they wear do a poor job of masking the fact that most of them are forever mired in debt, which they keep rolling over from one creditor to the next to sustain their lavish and rich lifestyles.
This they do until it all goes bust and you don’t see them anymore, except at the auctioneers and shylocks, this time evading the limelight.
Truth is, even as young people complain that the generations of their fathers are too selfish to let them inherit wealth, many of these juveniles cannot do anything useful with family money if alcohol spares them long enough to inherit it.
That is why the so-called celebville in Nairobi is scattered with people who blew their inheritance on alcohol, club life and other showy sideshows. They rarely go home because their siblings are baying for their blood for squandering the family fortunes.
Others, who are born hustlers, keep the celeb gossip tongues wagging about how well off they are, yet they do not have a dime to their names.
They will buy one or two expensive suits, which they wear to all notable events to make sure the façade passes for their true lifestyles.
However, the Nairobi swagger is nothing compared to the weeklong show put up by village ‘millionaires’ when they miraculously come into money by offloading family fortunes.
Unlike in the city where a spoilt brat can use his connections to get tenders to supply air and make quick money, or latch onto election campaign money when the family windfall is gone, in the village, it’s tougher being an overnight millionaire or sustaining the facade.
One has to sell a piece of land the moment he acquires a title deed to his ancestral land and the journey to instant wealth is as quick as the return to permanent poverty.
Still, the sudden infusion of hard cash into village economy is often so sudden that it causes inflation and brings the sleepy hamlet to a standstill.
It is not uncommon to see someone who has sold a piece of land — and received some cash deposit — walking into a bar flanked by all the dreaded village ruffians acting as body guards. These ruffians are no Secret Service men though. They will guard the ‘boss’ for drinks during the day but attack and steal all his money when darkness falls.