Dear East Africans, pride should be cushioned by efficiency

Social media seems to have closed a gap that traditional media was reluctant to seal. A few years back, I used to whine a lot about how events happening in another country within the region deserved to be given serious attention by the traditional media in the individual East African countries.

Social media seems to have closed a gap that traditional media was reluctant to seal. A few years back, I used to whine a lot about how events happening in another country within the region deserved to be given serious attention by the traditional media in the individual East African countries.

My cries were often not heeded by those who ultimately decide what news deserves space and what doesn’t whether in a newspaper, radio or television setting. The consumers of this media in the end would only be fed on a limited scope of news and shielded from things that could affect their own lives although happening outside their borders.

 

These days however even before you can trace the page for regional news in your local daily, a hot story from across the borders will be eating up the space on your phone by appearing in the various WhatsApp groups that you are part of and those you failed to find the courage to leave (you know the ones I am talking about). The same story will trickle into your Twitter and Facebook timeline.

 

By the time the sun goes down, you are no longer interested in the story itself but what it really means to you or those around you. The most recent story that got the social media airwaves active is the one concerning the developments around Crane Bank Ltd in Uganda being taken over by its regulator, Bank of Uganda. 

 

For a long time it has been one of the biggest banks in Uganda and the first to recently expand its operations by opening shop in Rwanda (the one here is running normally since it was registered as a separate business). I say recently because the defunct Greenland Bank (Uganda) had branches in the region even before the revival of the East African Community.

Due to the size of the bank, there have been talks about it being “too big to fail” a common economic cry when a large business is in distress referring to the situation likely to get worse if ‘we’ let the business die. The same has been said about Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways and its troubles. In the same midst, talk of reviving Uganda Airlines will also be heard.

In all these conversations there is an overriding theme of not only potential but also pride. Some have an attachment to a brand they see as their own and hoping beyond hope that it can flourish and adequately represent more about their country. It is an understandable feeling but it is not sufficient in my view. I believe the pride we invest in some of these things may turn out to be such a terrible investment when those running it do not care about efficiency and competence.

If a company that even has pride in its tag line consistently makes the news for the wrong reasons then it could be time to slow down on the pride and demand for efficiency. Because what all this basically means is that those who run such a company are not concerned with doing it well to please the shareholders or service the pride of the citizens.

It is for the same reasons that Kenyans and East Africans in general were disturbed by the stories of mismanagement that characterised the performance of the Kenyan athletes at the last Olympic Games. These athletes are undoubtedly the biggest source of pride for Kenyans and therefore those in charge of their management ought to be more efficient and competent at all times.

What all this means that in every country there are things citizens have an unusual attachment and pride. Symbols they would proudly point out when outside their borders and say that right there is from my country. In fact the most competent people should be the ones managing these things that bring us the most pride.

Imagine the level of pride that Rwandans have now invested in RwandAir, especially now that it is acquiring brand new wide body aircraft. It is such a situation that calls for those running it to be at the top of their game because even those who will never afford to fly with it recognise it as their own. If indeed something is too big to fail then we need to those in charge of it to always keep that in mind and perform to their utmost best. East Africa needs an efficient Kenya Airways more than a mere source of pride.

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