Like tax payers around the world, we normally greet letters from the Kenya Revenue Authority with some wariness. So imagine our surprise last week to receive from them an invitation to lunch – with no less a distinguished guest than Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta himself.
Our excitement took a slight knock when we found we were not alone on the guest list. It turns out every year the top 500 tax payers – in terms of timeliness and compliance – are invited to an award-giving event presided over by His Excellency, the President of Kenya.
Well Told Story is a hybrid company, we aim to create value for our audience, our partners and our business while serving our mission to bring about positive social change for Kenyan youth. It was thus quite a surreal experience to be seated among 500 of Kenya’s distinguished tax payers – most of whom have more single minded commercial goals than ours. Represented were financial service providers, manufacturing concerns, management consulting firms and Kenya’s oldest individual tax payers (113 and 108 years respectively – see their photo, above, with the President). This in the grandeur of Kenyatta Conference Centre, decorated with immaculate linen, flashing TV screens, professional sound and lighting, dance shows, a comedian, the Kenya Defence Forces Band and various musicians, all in preparation for the show of modernity and excellence that was about to be started.
Luckily we were seated at a table with 8 boys from St Ignatius Boys High School in Kakamega, Western Kenya. Their presentation on “why paying tax is important” won this year’s Young Tax Ambassadors award. The guys were avid Shujaaz fans. We discussed the life of DJB, where they collected Shujaaz comic books in Kakamega and how they all liked Malkia the best. Needless to say… we had fun.
Meanwhile the President delivered his speech on the importance of paying taxes, the drive of the Kenyan nation to further its economic independence, he condemned corruption in the revenue department and then gave awards in various categories to proud company representatives. There followed a great show as the President posed with the winners for extensive photoshoots.
The event showcased the contrasts of what Kenya has to offer: our wonderful ability to put together an impressive party, the structural proximity of those abiding the law and those who look for its boundaries, and the vibrant and aspirational dream of the Kenya that can be. And we now know that at least 500 Kenyan companies will be contributing to make that dream a reality – and we are extremely proud to be one of them….