In the article Keep The Peace, I stated that,
“…To the young people, the dreams we have; that huge career you want to nurture, that girl you want to be the mama to your babies, that guy you want to be your mzee, that kaploti you want to buy, those houses you want to own, those biasharas, those events and night-outs you want to continue going to, that empire you want to build, the legacy you want to leave, is only possible in a peaceful Kenya…”
After casting my vote on August 8th, I went back to work. I remember in the bus sitting next to these young men, carrying huge luggage, quite anxious; constantly looking outside the window, and seeming very restless. I presumed they had cast their votes, and were now heading to town to catch the next bus home.
But it could be understood. Days to the vote, there had been areas that had been flagged as potential hotspots of violence. There had also been reports of ethnic threats silently flying in some of these areas. So some people opted to first exercise their right to vote, then travel upcountry and leave Ninevah behind.
Felt that spending the night at the office fearing the unknown was unbecoming. At around 1am, impatient to wait for the transport provision, I requested an Uber to go back home and spend the night with family.
As usual, takes a while to convince Uber drivers that the Dandora I stay ‘is not that baaad.’, and that I’m a good citizen who pays tax and respects the rule of law.
On our way, the driver would occasionally provide me with tales of jamaas who fell prey to gangsters pretending to be clients in the app, perhaps sending indirect messages to me to ‘just be a good customer’.
But on passing by several police cars, he kinda felt satisfied that all was well .He would then move to asking about the elections, and if the leader of opposition was being defeated ‘roho safi’.
Everytime illustrating the ‘roho safi’ with his hand as if slicing the air, reminding me of that sword in the Fruit Ninja game.
All along, what really hit me, were the stereotypes he had validating the police presence in the area.
The longer I got irritated by what I viewed as polite discrimination, the more I questioned what had happened to my dream of owning a car few months after graduation…
…a dream which after negotiations and dialogue with my inner person, had gone slightly down to owning one of those TVS Apache bikes, only to be reminded that ‘salvation shall come from the hills’, and started having dreams of the VW Golf or one of those terrorizing Subarus.
I remember on arrival, the driver having a challenge steering his way back to the road without hitting a neighbour’s kiosk. Noticing that he was no expert, I took charge!!…...outside the car like,
“Haaya kuja mbele, mbele, mbele, stop! Chunga taa ya left! Haaya rudi nyuma, nyuma, nyuma.. kuja left, left…chunga ukuta!”
Spent like twenty minutes out there. Kinda understood why Noah wasn’t really in charge during the great flood. How do you control all that length!!
On success, he was grateful, stating that in other areas, he could have been left to sort himself out. I hoped that his stereotypes that nothing good could come out of Nazareth were crashed, and that before I assisted him, I didn’t ask if he had voted for person ABC ‘roho safi’.
But this image of patriotism was crashed, nights after the declaration of the Presidential elections. We would be hearing gunshots all night long.
I remember, with precision one of the matatus I was in on my way back home stalling next to Kiamaiko along Outering Road due to a technical hitch. We could hear sounds of blazing guns from afar, but since we naturally perceived that whoever was shooting was the good guy, and whoever being shot at was the bad guy(s), we were hesitant to fret.
But when they intensified, we immediately alerted each other to rush out, with the conductor pointing us towards the direction of another matatu that had just stopped, so we could aboard and just leave.
Could have thought it was one of those movie scenes the main actor is busy evacuating guys into a chopper or sumn’.
We never got to thank the conductor, well since everyone was narrating what had been heard, but the guy is a hero. I don’t recall him saying that he’s only willing to assist those who voted for who, but he just helped everyone. He had the option of just running for his own safety anyway, but he waited for us.
In those nights, everytime we’d hear these gunshots, it’d get me confused. Everytime I’d go on Twitter to know what’s happening in other parts of the country, it’d get me mad.
Confused since I never knew who was being shot at 3, 4 or 5am. In those nights, although supposed to be reading for exams, I’d spent minutes and minutes on the sofa, listening to the cracking sounds and wondering,
“Now, since it was a secret ballot, does the eye of a bullet know who voted for Uhuru and who voted for Raila? Is the eye of a bullet sharp enough to decipher in the dark a criminal, a protester, and a young person who was maybe walking back home from the bus stage, or from kesha, or even from a celebration?”
Mad because once again, Kenyans online were spewing tribal hate, some even using disappointing arguments to validate the brutal police operations that were happening.
Weeks later, The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights released a report titled Mirage at Dusk, followed by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International’s Kill Those Criminals; reports with information that would make you cringe about some of the victims of all manner of brutality, from being clobbered, to being shot, to being raped.
Without time to heal, the Supreme slip on September 2, threw our country into uncharted waters, and once again here we are praying for the soul of our country to be spared.
Such crisis always puts at risk the dreams of the younger nation; the youth.
Remember when we believed that the time for us youths had come, and so in August 8th we voted in young people into power hoping that they would fight for our future, only for some of them to end up fighting one another in the Parliament canteen?
Remember when we voted them in, believing that the same way they spoke up against the ‘poor’ track-records of their opponents is the same way they would speak up for justice and equality, only for some of them to end up dancing to the same tune of the old, and using insults as a tool of political crowd seduction?
I’m saying some of them because all is not lost. I’m saying some of them because I’m disappointed that the rays of light, the Mwirigis, have gone silent, and so the only young leaders we now hear and know of are those hurling insults, speaking of Uprisings as if they are a Disney Production and brewing divisive politics even with good English as if this country doesn’t belong to them.
As we watch this political brinkmanship at its best, pundits have always tried to convince us to live peacefully because Uhuru and Raila “are actually good friends who talk to each other.”
When the peace of a nation is built and determined solely by a group of friends, it’s prone to a sense of instability. And that is why if the two took a picture today smiling at each other, all would go back to normal.
The problem with such an approach is that this friendship vibe does not trickle down to the common man, leaving the citizenry as an unsullied following, with unquestioning obedience, just waiting for orders from above.
No matter what happens post-26th, whether we/you vote or not, it’s important to note that Kenya is changing, and champions will be needed to rise up to shape this big change in ways that build our country, rather than destroy it. I know most of us would never be interested in politics, but we can still be champions.
You become a champion first when you acknowledge the hurt among us, and second, when you align your personal dreams with those of a nation.
Losing a loved one leaves a wound that never heals. The parents whose sons and daughters were shot dead will never heal. The family that lost a father or a mother will never heal. The women who were victims of rape, the lady who lost her 39-week old pregnancy due to inhaling teargas , and many others cases, will never heal.
Being champions implies accepting that when one goes down, we all go down. That, any injustice to a fellow Kenyan, from whichever part of the country, is a stain to our national fabric, which we cannot ignore.
Everytime you wake up, on your way to do what you do everyday, remember that someone needs a champion. The task you do everyday, however small, could not be done by someone else at that point, and you are an ambassador of the Kenya we want.
Never despise the day of small beginnings. When you recognize the role you have to play, that is the day you will see things from a bigger picture, and become confident that you weren’t born simply to improve the profits of companies, but to improve the lives of your fellow countrymen.
Don’t give up on us.
Since change is social, if you’re not tribal about your friends; if you have a significant other, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a potential, or even an ex from another tribe, and even if they are from your tribe that’s not the only reason you are/were with them;
if you never choose the girl you wanna chat up at the social setting based on their tribe; to the girl, if you never rule out the small-talk of a guy based on his tribe but what he has to offer in his conversation;
if you’re a man and yet a feminist; if you’re a Christian and yet with Muslim friends; if you don’t find tribal stereotypes funny; if you don’t contribute to sin tax with only your tribesmen and women;
if hateful leaders don’t impress you; if you don’t ask first for their surnames before giving some assistance; if you’ve never given up on this country even when it gave up on you,
…..then don’t tell me Hope is just a word!!
Because you are Hope! As the Moses-Generation slowly exits the stage, you represent the Joshua-Generation that will change this country.
Our time is Coming.
Let us continue to pledge allegiance to the four colors of our flag and the three stanzas of our national anthem. That Justice will be our Shield and Defender, and plenty will be found within our borders.
Keep and Pray for Peace.
Kenya will Live.
We Are All We Need.