An open letter to Edith Fortunate of the Daily Nation

Dear Edith,

I read your article which appeared in the DN2 of Wednesday, April 4th 2012 on the advent into the health market of a birth control pill for men with fascination. Fascination, not because of the novelty of what you were talking about, but rather because of the radical (and, in most cases, erroneous) ideas on population control you were propagating within the body of your write-up.

I will attempt to highlight a few of them to you.

You start by claiming that Kenya’s population is growing ‘by about a million people annually’ and that this growth ‘is not supported by corresponding economic growth.’ I will not dispute the population figures – these are plain enough. What I don’t understand is how you cannot see the relationship between population growth and economic growth. The two always go hand-in-hand and there is a direct positive correlation between them. It is a well known and documented historical fact that the socio-economic growth experienced in Europe during the Industrial Revolution was caused (and sustained) by a corresponding growth in population. How are these ‘poor’ nations to achieve social and economic growth if serious attempts are being made to eliminate the most important factor of production?

I find it strange that it is always people from the developed countries who propose the use of contraceptives to the developing nations. I’ve often wondered if this is not part of propaganda funded by foreign powers in their attempt, if not to control us, to at least reduce us to their levels of desperation.

You state that ‘something must be done [about the population] if we are to achieve our development goals.’ What you don’t tell your readers is that the problems facing developing countries are not as a result of overpopulation per se, but of laziness and mismanagement of resources by a minority of citizens. These in turn result in malnutrition and wars which inflict the poverty-stricken nations. You don’t tell them that the overpopulated areas in most countries are the cities while the rural areas continue to be sparsely populated as people migrate to the urban centres. And you also don’t tell them that, all things held constant, overall incomes of industries in a country would drop if half a country’s population were to die today, for then there would not be enough workers, marketers and consumers of products in the economy. This holds true even if those that die are the poor, the aged, the handicapped and children.

I’m sure that having lived in Kenya for a while, you have experienced that despite the apparent material poverty of the Kenyan people, we are a happy lot. You will see a different picture if you look at the developed countries which have embraced the culture of contraceptives. These countries are at the moment grappling with population crises – crises of aging and dying populations. This has been as a result of implementing the very same methods of birth control and abortion we are currently being encouraged to adopt.

You claim that scientists want to introduce a birth control pill for men so that women can finally hand over the ‘reins – and burdens – of family planning to [men].’ I hope you notice the irony of this statement in light of your article. You quote a certain ‘Jane Wairimu’ who admits to having suffered major side effects as a result of using contraceptives. I can assure you that what you highlighted in your article is just the tip of the iceberg of what women who use contraceptives go through. The effects can be worse, as I am sure you know.

From this one case that you give, you show that not all the ‘46% of women who are on a family planning regimen’ are on it out of sheer pleasure. Most of them have been pushed to that limit by the pressure placed on the modern working-class woman by society. She has been made to believe that her career is more important than her family, in effect casting a shadow on the beauty of motherhood.

I am not saying this just because I am a man. I also have a mother, sisters, aunts and nieces and I would not mind seeing them successful; but I also know I would not be here writing this letter to you if my parents had decided to use contraceptives on the day I was conceived. What I want to emphasize is that contraceptives should not be encouraged. I do not believe there’s anything such as the ‘unplanned pregnancies’ you speak of. Everyone who engages in sex (whether within or without marriage) should be ready to bear the consequences.

I don’t want to bring in religious arguments into the discussion and I’ve already exceeded the length I’d intended for this letter. I, however, sincerely hope that one day you will come to see things in a different light.

Yours sincerely,

Sylvester Oluoch.

3 Comments
  1. It always amuses me the conclusions people make just by looking at the names of individuals they have never met. Edith Fortunate is Kenyan, born and bred…. and black too.

    • My mistake, Sarah. I guess the name blinded me… but I don’t take back a single word from what I have written. I would voice the same issues regardless of the race or gender of the person who writes an article such as the one Edith wrote!

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