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Ndovu Mkuu

Beyond the Numbers

Your Dreams Are Not Valid Here

The 1980s and 1990s were tough times in Kenya, and in many other countries in the Global South. A deep economic decline, on the back of the implementation of the infamous Bretton Woods structural adjustment programs (SAPs), led to a slash in government expenditure, especially on public servants’ salaries, administration, economic and social services.

Today, due to state theft, poor fiscal management and an exorbitant debt appetite, the IMF is back on the scene, to impose fiscal discipline and other austerity measures to keep government in check. Structural Adjustment 2.0 is underway!

This Reflections series goes ‘Beyond the Numbers’ of macro-economic policy to excavate the memories of those tough times, and connect that with what’s going on today. How did families cope? How did it affect social arrangements, like people having to live with relatives, or the stress that it put on marriages? How are millennials being affected by its iteration today – frustrating unemployment, and the unspoken angst of not being able to achieve dreams? How do we connect the brunt of the hustle to the dysfunction in national economics? How does society react to this culturally – channelling frustration through music, sports, the arts and so on? And what are the untold stories of those traumas that were never discussed?

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