The Impotency of One Thousand Shillings

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A barren economic landscape A barren economic landscape Photo by DJ

You know things are thick and the struggle is real when the highest denomination of our Kenyan currency can only buy one meal and leave you with a few coins for pocket change.

I remember a few years back with a one thousand note you could actually walk into a supermarket and come out with a reasonable number of things. The shopping list could have included maize floor, sugar, some cooking oil and even a nice perfume. Today with that you can just get the nice perfume and even be forced to up some few shillings.  The other day I was walking in the crowded aisles of a local supermarket doing my shopping and I hadn’t carried my debit card for back up.

I picked what I thought my budget allowed just the basic necessities; toilet paper, toothpaste, Nivea deodorant spray and coco butter lotion and confidently walked to the cashier. The queue was quite long and people had all reasons to frown.

The largest frown was from a plump lady behind me who looked like she was having a bad day and was just waiting for an excuse to unleash her fury on anyone who dared cross her path.  The cashier scanned the barcodes for the items so fast to get rid of the long queue and showed me the screen. 1185 shillings! Was I seeing my own things? … Well it was time to pay and I didn’t have all that money.

It was one of those embarrassing moments. I asked the cashier to just remove some items from the receipt because I only had a thousand shilling note and that was inclusive of my fare back home. The looks that I got from the people behind me, especially the plump lady who wore a sneer as if she had smelt something nasty, were just out of this planet.

 Do you miss those days that you would actually stumble upon some money along the dusty paths on your way from school? Well things have really changed, nowadays you can even consider it a miracle when you see a 5 shilling coin lying somewhere. The rate at which prices of commodities such as milk and bread are being hiked is crazy and we actually don’t understand why.

Not so many people have the patience to wait for the business fragment of the news or should I say not so many are conversant with the business jargons. Business news can actually be depressing when all you hear is that the USD, GBP and Euro rate is just going up compared to the KES.

The financial situations are always debatable by different economic theories: I remember studying about the Keynesian and Monetary theories in my Economic class. The Keynesian theory is based on the hypothesis that savings and expenditure are influenced by the real disposable income. On the other hand, Monetary theory dwells on the effects of monetary systems for example, the increase of money supply in the economy directly affects the prices of goods and services. But where are we going wrong as a country, how comes we are not on top of the food chain or swimming with the big fish? The rate of inflation is just so high and sadly enough not all of us can keep up. The gap between the rich and poor is widening day in and day out. If we do our math right the first president’s family might own half of Kenya while some people are living in rented shacks in the slums of Mathare and Kibera. Sometimes I am forced to think that the rich people make their money and burn all sorts of bridges so that by the time we catch up they have escalated to another level.

Honestly speaking I think our “great depression” as Kenyans started after Moi’s regime ended. I don’t recall things getting any better after Nyayo. I was part of the lucky kids who enjoyed free milk in primary school, famously known as “maziwa ya Nyayo”. Those days with just a five shilling coin as a pocket money, you considered yourself rich or rather I used to think I was on top of the game. Right now things are really bad and they are bound to get worse. We might as well not mind some divine intervention or some miracle as Kenyans. The thought of how things will be in the future is both scary and depressing.

This calls for us to act smart. Invest in the money markets, buy some shares in the stock market, invest in real estate or just do something meaningful with the little money that you get if you don’t want your future generation to end up in poverty or struggle financially.  I am especially a strong advocate for money markets because they provide an investor with a competitive rate of return for short-term investments. Don’t have the fear to just keep your funds in low interest accounts why don’t you get educated and invest?

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