Jamhuri Day: What’s The Point?

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Let’s take a trip back 67 years ago in Kenya. Here’s what a typical day, judging from my history classes, looked like. My family and I wake up at 6 to go work on a Mzungu’s shamba. Before we go on, it is important to note that this shamba really belongs to my family. In the farm, there will be several foremen whose work is to walk around whipping us. We will probably work long and hard into the evening. After numerous days of hard work, the harvest from our shamba will be sold by the Mzungu. My family and I will not benefit from it at all.

In the evening, we will be seated around the fire, sharing whatever measly food we are able to get our hands on, since we are now squatters on what was previously our land – alongside dozens of other families. The Jonnies kick down our door at around nine – they don’t even bother to knock. They are hunting down the Mau Mau. We don’t help them much – either because we don’t know a thing or because we are Mau Mau sympathizers. So they disrespect my father, probably calling him all sorts of names and giving him a slap or two. They probably throw my mother to the ground just for the sake of it and treat my sister to a heavy kick in the stomach.

Right at that moment, my elder and unlucky brother comes back home, probably from a night time get away with some girl. They arrest him and since he was out at odd hours in the night, associate him with the Mau Mau. The next day, after a totally unfair trial, he will be convicted and hanged.

It’s unfortunate – to me at least – that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the misery that my great grandfather and other Kenyans went through just half a century ago. I have to struggle to imagine what it was like. Of course if we were in some other countries like the US, thorough research would have been done and our history would have been properly documented. There would be dozens of high quality movies that graphically illustrate the suffering of our ancestors under the hands of our colonizers such that I would not have to imagine a thing – it would all be there for me to clearly see. It would be difficult to forget where we come from.

But you see… We are Kenyans and Africans – which seems to be a curse in itself. We can’t even tell our stories. We let our stories be told by the west. They don’t have lions yet they own Lion King – just one of countless examples. And if we can’t tell our stories, then we forget who we are. If we can’t tell our stories, we fail to appreciate where we have come from. Consequently, we can’t even appreciate Jamhuri day – because we have no idea what independence is. How can we yet we don’t know what we were freed from? For millennials, Jamhuri day is just a day not to sit for exams and to stay home and… It’s meaningless.

And you wonder: Why can’t we tell our stories? Is it that we don’t have brains? Is it that our fingers can’t handle pens? Is it that our hands can’t hold cameras and make films? Is it that our black faces will not appear in videos when we are the ones doing the shooting?

Or is it that we just don’t see the sense in it?

The reason I’m bitching on and on about this whole Jamhuri day thing is because we have become a country made up of individuals who only have rights and not responsibilities. The word RESPONSIBILITY does not exist in a Kenyan’s dictionary. That is one of the findings of the BBI report. But of course most of us don’t know that because, we are Kenyan youth, it’s not our responsibility to read the BBI. It’s the responsibility of some aliens somewhere…God have mercy.

And yet, 57 years ago, people shed blood for a country called Kenya to be independent. They died. They did not die so that they would enjoy independence. They died with the sole comfort that we – their children – would enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice. I have one question ringing in my mind: If we were to be colonized today, would this breed of Kenyan youth produce fighters to win back our independence? Sorry, it’s not a matter of if – our minds are still colonized.

We are all about taking from the nation and giving nothing back. How the fuck is that even supposed to work? A nation exists on one simple concept: I AM BECAUSE YOU ARE: I can walk peacefully in the evening and enjoy a tasty mutura simply because a Kenyan soldier risks death protecting our borders from Al-Shabaab attacks. I can live healthily because there is a Kenyan doctor to treat me when I fall sick. I can enjoy the serenity and beauty of Uhuru Park because a Kenyan heroine by the name of Wangari Maathai fought for it against death threats, arrests, humiliation and all sorts of intimidation. I can walk freely, without being treated like a slave because a Kenyan hero called Dedan Kimathi gave up his life for my freedom.

Uhuru Park, which we only enjoy because of Wangari Maathai’s struggle

We are very quick to get HELB loans because it is our right but we don’t care about paying them – not really. We are very quick to demand our right for competent government yet we don’t take part in our responsibility of carefully choosing the government. If we can’t even read the BBI, how are we to vote for or against it if there is to be a referendum? And yet we’ll run to twitter to yap about our corrupt and inefficient government. Well, that government is there by our power. So if it is corrupt and inefficient, that’s your face you’re looking at in the mirror – you’re corrupt and inefficient. We love clean and fresh air, our wildlife and the green environment we see around us yet we don’t do anything at all to preserve it. In fact, if anything, we seem to be doing our best to ensure that there’ll be no wildlife or forests or rain come 2030. Oh and talking about 2030, or even the Big Four, isn’t it funny how it’s not our job to care about the Big Four but that of some aliens who don’t live in Kenya? The Big Four will be achieved by some other people… and then we’ll enjoy its fruits  – if I rolled my eyes at this, they would fall.

Look at me, throwing a tantrum and hoping I’ll make a difference. Ha ha ha. Who am I kidding? Maybe they never should have granted us independence. We could have been corrupt, incompetent, self-destructively tribal, stupid and selfish without the likes of Dedan Kimathi having to die first, don’t you think?

Happy Jamhuri! Enjoy not having to go to work and not having exams.

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Silicon

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