“I’m thinking I should be a politician.”, said my boy out of the blue yesterday. We were just about to descend from the matatu into town.
“Why?” I asked.
“I think I’d do quite well in politics. Essentially, all I’d be doing is socializing and pointing fingers, right? It’s like a career game of chess.”
We was right but I couldn’t outwardly agree with him so I asked him what he’d do for the mwananchi once in power.
He stopped walking and laughed. “Kenyans are a funny bunch. They have a very limited attention span. They will watch you intently and then watch someone else intently and forget all about you altogether.” He coughed and got serious. “Put it this way, whether I did good or bad, there’d be resistance. So since Kenyans seem to know what they want, I’ll just go with the flow and collect my day’s pay. They won’t remember me anyway.”
“Yeah they will. They…”
He cut me off and pointed to the people walking around the corner: “They don’t even remember the people that died there and they’re going to remember me?” as he pointed at the August 8 memorial, where people unceremoniously walked past without a second thought.
How many of us forgot yesterday was the 13th year since the August 7th bombings? I know my mother did. She actually asked me to Google it after seeing it on the late night news. Reluctantly, I did and as I was walking away to let her use the computer, I felt a sudden residual sadness. I remember speaking with a friend in 2004 who was among the 4,000 ‘injured’ – he had his kneecap knocked off by flying debris – and he said ‘If they say only 200 people died, they’ve lied.’ He related to me stories of being in hospital and watching person after person get sent downstairs to the morgue. He teared up telling me about his little sister who fought for her life for a week before giving up and dying. And how they didn’t even know where she was until long after she had been ‘disposed of’. He and many others who were there and who survived REFUSE the death toll stopped at 200 Kenyans. I’m more inclined to believe them than some random statistic given by the two governments I trust the least.
It’s kinda like a week ago, mid famine, when Alfred said ‘So far, the government does not have any official reports that a Kenyan has died as a result of the hunger.'(actual quote here) Except this time was different. People went up in arms about that. We reacted, energetically and united. It was actually quite beautiful. And it helped fuel the #FeedKE and #KenyansForKenya initiatives. We, as Kenyans, raised a giant middle finger to the government and grabbed the bull of famine by the horns – to the best of our abilities. Speaking of ‘bull’, it would’ve been nice if the corporates had joined the people and reinforced Ahmed’s original initiative rather than overshadowing it with their own, but regardless of where their hearts were, ours were with our people. And close to a billion shillings later, it’s clear that when we want to, we can make a change and shift the status quo. If there is a problem, we don’t need to wait for Kibaki & Co. to decide we’re a priority; we just make ourselves the priority and go about making the change we need in our lives.
At night, I pray this isn’t a one-off occurrence. I pray that this spirit of solidarity is not lost on us when the second shoe drops and we have to heave harder. I pray we remember to work together next year as we elect the people that have to lead this new Kenya and the years after that as we build our country. I’m of the opinion that choosing a President here is like choosing a mobile phone network, they’re all useless, they just have different funds available to them. Also, different people pledge allegiance to different ones. And that is important, having a choice. But what is even more crucial is that we all elect to demand and effect the changes we want to see happen. We need to all remember where we’ve come from, look at where we are, and march in unison to where we need to be.
My friend was right when he said that we very easily forget where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and that politicians take full advantage of these facts. We forget to learn from past experiences and set ourselves up for future mistakes. Let’s not forget next year; not about the strife and struggles that have led to this point, be they as unfortunate as Black Friday or the 2007 Post-Election violence, or as beautiful as the efforts behind famine relief or the Promulgation of the
Let us learn that the power to change this country is indeed in our hands and our voices and that we need to be prepared to use them wisely come next year and the year after that if we ever want to reclaim our homeland.
Have a blessed week.