Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We are a product of our history. As Kenyans though, we are plagued by bouts of selective amnesia that make it impossible to trace historical roots. The vast majority of Kenyans are afflicted by the ability to settle for mediocrity. The middle class is content to sit back and try not to rock the boat while the rich make the rules and the poor suffer under their brutality. We live average lives, in average neighbourhoods and drive average cars so we can sit at the end of the day and comment about what is happening around us without thought of doing something about it.

Think about it. On one end of all those demonstrations are chauffeur driven gits in sound proof cars. On the other are guys who will have to trek to either Kibera or Mathare. In the middle? Tear gas, police batons and rubber bullets. This sense of amnesia is what gives us the same class of ‘representatives’ after every election cycle. We are a reactive rather than proactive country hence we lack a national ideology.

Such is the case that after people our age started fighting for democracy in North Africa, whispers about the same thing started in Kenya. One such initiative was KenyaFeb 28th. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the plan was that on Monday the 28th of February, from all corners of the country, Kenya was going to explode into patriotic song at 1pm with a rendition of the national anthem. While I applaud the organizers for this noble and novel idea, I have some issues with the purpose and effectiveness. Why? I’ll explain. But first, some facts.

The Facebook generation generally falls within the late teen to early thirties age group. This means even our parents scarcely remember the independence struggle. After a whole generation of Moi running the affairs of the country, we have settled into a rut with the mindset that things could be worse. As long as blood is not being shed on the streets (till the next elections at least), then we are content with the status quo.

History for this generation is a confusing set of ideas imparted during coma-inducing lessons in school. It is reduced to nothing more than vague words on yellowing pages forced on us by teachers. To this day, I must admit my ignorance at not knowing anything else about Pio Gama Pinto other than he was assassinated and shares a name with my dad. Pity is I can recite obscure facts about American presidents that add no value to my Kenyan heritage. This generation is left to sift fact from fiction from historians. As presented by outsiders, the African is a fallible individual full of shortcomings while their indigenous counterparts paint fanatical images with memory gaps of our ‘freedom fighters’.

Cynicism is already a mainstay of this group of people. We were around to see the liberation brought on by KANU’s downfall in 2002 and last year’s passage of the new constitution. But just as quickly we saw this optimism shattered by partisan issues. Every national thought has since then become a matter of what language your parents speak. But we are better. Aren’t we? Only on the surface. The fact that we speak in clipped accents with the benefit of education to back our arguments doesn’t mean we don’t harbor those ethnic thoughts. I see it in my writing every once in a while. A slip here. An expression there.

If I seem to digress then let me get back to KenyaFeb 28th. Being Kenyan, I guess my first instinct is to criticize but I will resist that urge and critique. This is the moment in the movie when the underdog takes out the bad guy with inspirational music playing in the background. Think Sly Stallone’s Rocky with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ being belted out. But who is the bad guy in this tale? Unless we figure out that it is us then initiatives like February 28th might as well be about us entertaining birds. A common location would have been the first step. Picture thousands of Kenyan youth standing together at Uhuru Park singing despite their differences. All in all, I stand in unity with you brothers and sisters. Hopefully you won’t look outside, find me singing and walk on into your average lives. Only then can we figure out what step is next.

This re-edited post was made as a reaction to Kingwa Kamencu's presidential bid but is not a reaction to her. I would love to go into a diatribe about how as an individual, she has very little merit as a presidential aspirants but I'd rather focus on the vitriolic attacks against her. She is a politician and is thus in the company of very dim-witted individuals. The youth have been quick to trash her without providing a reasonable alternative and my issue starts and ends there.

1 comment:

  1. i must admit i like ths article..lets follow each other.. must admit i like ths article..lets follow each other..