BY KEN LIPENGA
The nation’s political, business, and religious elites seem to have decided that possession of a Ph.D, genuine or otherwise, is an almost religious prerequisite for impressing and even intimidating us lesser mortals.
In fact in some cases it is the masses who impose this prefix on their idols and threaten hell and brimstone to those who don’t address their deity as “Dr.”
“Bwana did you notice how our colleague Ujeni referred to you only as “Mr”? That guy is not with us, bwana doctor. But leave it to us, doctor bwana, tithana naye, we’ll fix him.”
It seems now to be a political, business or religious personage and still remain a “Mr” no longer cuts it. Our elite simply cannot do without the “Dr” appendage. Did you notice the number of Ph.Ds in the previous MEC?
Clever people are using dubious shortcuts to acquire this fetish and the suppliers are obliging. Jerusalem. Columbia Commonwealth. All sorts of diploma mills in America and elsewhere are doing brisk business. On a light note, I carefully have not mentioned the mythical Humbu University, who are considering a title for me on account of my carefully calculated friendship with one Sean Mateus.
Not to be outdone, the Chinese have caught on to this goldmine, pursuing it in the form of the honorary degree which in Africa always passes for the real thing.
I suspect the Chinese approach this from the perspective of a pragmatic business strategy. Is President Lakayana of Gumbunya Republic being uncooperative on some mining deal? Offer him a Ph. D. If he is still recalcitrant then dangle a professorship before him. Or better still, offer it to his wife, that should corner him. You see, these guys have studied us and they’re familiar with our laughable follies.
Be warned you lofty intellectual stalwarts at Unima, Mzuni and elsewhere: the doctorate is being democratized at last. Or shall we say it has been hijacked as a symbol for the celebration of ostentatiousness?