‘Maneno ya inflation wachia watu wa Zimbabwe, we ambia serikali ikupatie kazi’. These words constantly run through my mind as I listen to my economics professor go on and on about the intricacies of inflation and Keynesian economics on Zoom. Maybe it’s because the concept of money losing value due to overabundance rankles me so much. My unique African experience has informed my view of more as better, I mean whose mum didn’t use the slogan ‘For Turkana ‘as an entreaty to finish their supper before the ever omnipresent slippers came into play? It’s either been the fear of less or the desire for more that has driven us, a duality at whose very root lies the fear of scarcity. So I ask myself again ‘Why would more money be bad?’
Our economics professor literally reeks of it himself, his Clark Kent- like Prada glasses, Armani suit and posh British Isles accent all clear indications that he’s suffering from success as my friend Parpiee Cherono would call it while a little high on some quality throat sanitizers 😅. All I can think of is how many days the money he probably spent on his tie would last pale kibandsky( street food vendor shop) on a comrade’s lunch, having converted it from bucks to KES of course.
I know I risk being viewed as having an extremely monetary perspective of things, but well, who doesn’t? You are probably thinking why this guy can’t just consume knowledge for knowledge’s sake, why he can’t just soak away all this information and hope he uses it for his finance career someday, or maybe even use the big words to win arguments, both the real and the imaginary ones we always have in the shower.
Thing is, I’ve almost always been one for instant gratification, been taught by life to seek out the value in something, to measure its worth by how much it can plausibly give me; how concrete that value is. You could say I am the person who would measure fame by how many views my blogspots get, suaveness by how fluently one can speak the Queen’s language, and meme quality by how many reposts and screenshots I get from established meme lords. Measurement to me has always occurred relative to other higher images of perfection. Not the deep insight one might expect from a student who would dare look down upon established facts such as inflation, right?
“Inflation occurs when money loses its purchasing power, leading to an increase in the prize of commodities,’ he says. He then goes on to explain how the overflow of gold into European economies when they conquered the Inca and Aztec empires led to rapid inflation of their hitherto stable economies. I am now beginning to listen more, my subconscious daring him to convince me how gold of all things could lead to an empire’s downfall, how a concrete trademark of quality didn’t live up to its name. The words ‘aje sasa’ (how even) are the only ones my mind can conjure. Then as he goes on, a wave of realization hits me, a chink appears in the armor of my well established beliefs that unless something is seen and felt and experienced in a concrete manner then it’s not worthy. It becomes clear that in pursuing the visual, I have neglected the subliminal, in reaching for the stars light years away, I have ignored the light of the candle in my own house.
Life has a way of rewarding magnitude and flashiness, or at least seeming to do so. We vote for the politicians who cry foul the loudest and value the largest fuel guzzlers (apart from Tesla). We forget, like the Spanish, that more gold doesn’t always mean more luster. That the value of some things cannot be quantified using the solid metrics we are so used to. Some things are just meant to be savored, like when we taste mutura from that well established peddler,( and Shon is a perfectionist at this😅) and the only thing you can think of is the sweet lingering flavor that sends your taste buds on overdrive. We do not think much about how good it would be if we were dismantling some caviar pale Kempinski instead at such times, do we?
Some sunsets are meant to be enjoyed without the need to post about them on our statuses. Having more sexual partners does not qualify satisfying sex life. It’s when we don’t have that compulsive need for more that we can slow down and appreciate the moment, drink it in and live in it, derive joy from a something as abstract as time ticking away.
As SKG winds his class, I don’t throw away my laptop and go down to Call of Duty business at Kiongos Cyber but instead, I just let his words sink in, not wanting to pile up experiences and activities, like gold or currency, to the extent that their distinctive values get lost in the numbers. It’s time to stop being mercurial like Sinatra with a cold and take things slow the country way like Kenny Rodgers. It definitely is time to get off Zoom though.
My take is, let us strive to notice the light from the candles in our rooms before seeking the light from stars far far away in the skies!