The adage seems true in the lives of residents in Kabare ward, Kirinyaga County who are currently living in abject poverty despite swimming in billions poured by the government.
The state in 2015 released Ksh2 billion compensation to landowners who had been displaced by the construction of the Ksh12 billion Thiba dam.
Unfortunately, the government did not make any plans for financial management lessons for the beneficiaries who were not only poor but the majority of them were financially illiterate.
Astounded by receiving millions of shillings overnight, the residents proceeded to live exorbitant lives and splashed the money by buying exquisite cars, lavish houses and partying.
Michael Muteru, a Kabare resident, noted that at the time, he had bought a Ksh2 million Toyota double cabin and had employed a chauffeur.
Further, he had Ksh7 million in the bank – money he was sure would last him in the succeeding ten years. However, currently, he could not account for all the millions he used.
“We were told that one would spend the amount in ten years. So I kept spending it in small amounts day-by-day. But now, I think I used up all the amount in two years,” an aggrieved Muteru stated.
The resident reminisced his grand lifestyle and paid for air tickets to his girlfriends to travel by plane.
He noted that due to the poverty he currently experiences, he had thought of taking his life on many occasions.
Muteru is an example of the many residents who were unable to control the millions given to them.
“I know of one man who received Ksh70 million. He would buy drinks for people not just to drink but also to wash their hands after leaving the bar urinal. Today, he is a manual labourer who lives hand to mouth tiling people’s shambas,” another resident narrated.
Rose Ngungi, another Kabare resident, noted how her neighbours had a minimum of four cars in each parking area and dressed in the finest designs.
Her family, fortunately, was more financially prudent as they had been career teachers and instead opted to invest in land and farming, noting that one day it would pay off.
“They would laugh at me by my friends as I would walk while they would drive,” she stated.
A case of riches to rags for the residents as the majority believed that the lifestyle would not cease to end.
The area chief called on the government to intervene and offer counselling – noting that the village has lost a number of residents to depression.