Jamhuri Incognito

***Allan ShadowRine***

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source: deposit photos

Two days ago, we celebrated Jamhuri day, in commemoration of 56 solid years of independence, but I chose to watch a Dj Afro than follow up the proceedings of this headache-inducing event. It feels nice to have a free flight to Bangkok Thailand and Cambodia with the top-Ranking DJ Afro than sit down and watch live proceedings of a tedious ceremony in the Eden grounds of Nairobi. Not that I don’t like participating in nation building activities, nor am I unaware that the words in this article would make a good recipe for my eulogy, but I could not see the need of spending my time listening to long obviously boring speeches. Furthermore, I am not patriotic enough to endure the disturbing pain of seeing millions of harshly-collected tax money hoist such a heart-breaking celebration. After all, I knew what the absolutely boring talks would all be about.

Or was the speech different from the ones they have always had decades ago? Praising the progress that we have made as a country in the past years in terms of transitioning from third world to fastest growing, competitive, thrilling and conspicuous economy in Africa and the world?

Convincing Kenyans that the government has pulled up its sleeves so high to nearly tearing off the sleeves, in the fight against graft and the demonic corruption; how it has improved our terrible roads, constructed hospitals, enabled a free health insurance scheme and made Kenyan life generally better? Did those pretentious state officials speak of their ever protruding shortcomings: the ongoing floods, the horrific accidents, the predicted food insecurity, prevailing poverty or did they just emphasize on the need to unite Kenya, to mend our archaic and tribal based conflicts, amend the 2010 constitution, pass the controversial BBI and campaign for the 2022 elections?

I know it sounds like I am throwing primary three kid tantrums but, unless a flying KDF bullets finds its way into my movie-filled head, let us reason like sane people who have eaten Ajab made chappatis today and speak the naked truth. Now, there are innumerable number of things Kenyans wake up to. Some work in a milling shop, a market stall, in a bus stage, in the offices at the Times Tower, or in the same roof they’d slept in.

Some are farmers because they have adept skills as far as farming is concerned, some of us are office workers because our proficiency in office work mapped our lives there. Some wake up to drive in the scary bulldozers and demolish houses that are disapproved by NCA, some wake up to plot on where they will conduct a cattle raid, some wake up to fat pocket money sent to them by their parents from the treasury, others like me wake up to a Dj afro or two, some are what they are because of family relations, because of their influence, or because of their ‘something small’. I mean we all in a certain sector differently taking part in building our bloody nation, too ignorant to admit, too slow to making a change, or too afraid of opening a new chapter as the architects of our fate.

All the same, our individual contributions are the reason we are tied to backwardness of progress. Our sedentary advocations for change are the reasons we are drowning into debts and poverty. Our endorsement to few big ‘persons’ is probably the surreptitious explanation of why we don’t want to feel Kenyan, we don’t see growth, we are just fed up of failing the dreams of our fore fathers. Every day as I ride the noisy UD university bus to college, after a thrilling action movie with Tony Jaa, the same old music of an ill fashioned Kenya rings in my mind. I think of China, I think of Eurobond, I think of World Bank, I think of Baba Yao, of the embarrassing and primitive saga witnessed while arresting a governor of the biggest city in East Africa, inexplicable debts, apparently corrupt judicial system, rotten executive arm, and worse: disgusting, selfish, and significantly irresponsible legislature.

Have you ever thought what an insane country we are, sadly, fortunate to be in? I even wonder what God usually thinks to Himself when He peeps and sees what Kenyans are up to. Maybe He just gives horse-laughter at the Nairobi people hanging on the Embakasi train for a free ride. If He turns to the Eastern, he laughs harder at the people faking to be doctors who treat mapenzi, ndoa, kukosa pesa na nguvu za kiume. His already hard laughter gets harder when He looks at the capital and see the governor biting, literally biting a police officer in a fierce battle to resist being arrested. Things gets worse when He looks into the universities and see the country’s best minds taking loans to buy an intestine of mutura, a whisky or two, spending nights making memes, writing down mwakenyas and whole lot of weird stuff students do. Our news is a mixture of completely insane occurrences, unthinkable risks, unproductive adventures, taking debts I won’t pronounce loudly, deaths, theft, grisly road accidents, say it. Fact is, the small success that few see is the tenacious fabric keeping the country sane. And this unseen success is the only weapon that will free us from the bait we are trapped in. Else, all we will do for an indefinite time is flock into Nyayo stadium like a herd of stupid people, cheer the president and his Mercedes Benz escort, sing the national anthem, get entertained by a millitary band and watch the proceedings under the hottest sunshine, till we get our faces as black as our ignorance.

Success belongs to all men and women who tire and labor, day in day out for the survival of this bloody nation. Those who suffer the black invisible hand of the government, those who live with fear of the yellow uniformed municipal council officers who never care whether you make any profit from your small business or not. It belongs to the farmers who ferries six people, two sacks of potatoes, one Ankole cow and three foolish sheeps in an old KBX Toyota probox, from the most rural village, muddy and dusty, to the most urban centers, and still gives a part of their meager earnings to the nation we adore so enormously, to construct ghost modern expensive roads, to build imaginary affordable hospitals, raise utopic skyscrapers, hoist national ceremonies, sink politicians accounts and their descendants and to insure the health of some governor’s kid who is busy asking for pocket money from London.

Typical Probox, Toyota designed it for 6, but who said it can’t carry 12? Ask Kenyans.

Hard work belongs to the men who arise before dew dries up, grab a mug of hot sugarless porridge with a piece of the ugali from last night’s supper and match out into the rough world to seek for casual work and get some meal on the table for the family by nightfall. (FYI, porridge and ugali are one and the same components but expressed in different forms.)

It belongs to the lady who spends her entire day in the cruel streets, under the scorching sun, selling a handful of snacks, Soda maji biscuit in a Bidco carton and somehow manages to get her kids to school, give some offertory on Sunday, buy her mum some rubber shoes on her birthday, and even get plastic gumboots for her kids when the clouds cry mercilessly, with the little she gets from selling biscuits, water and candies.

It belongs to the women who don’t believe in sitting down and explicitly depending on their husbands to feed or clothe them or educate their kids. Strong women who despite facing brutality of marriages, torturous submission, painful battering and undeserved divorce, take to the streets and open grocery stalls, with a handful of bananas, avocados from the neighbor’s tree, as well as vegetables from her small farm, ferries them to the market on her aging back for sale.

Despite hard-earned independence, we still cannot afford better jobs, or ever worse, civilized market stalls.

Success belongs to the novice young men and women, who start up small barber shops and salons, who start cafes and restaurants, who open cyber cafes and car wash stations, and endure the difficulty of obtaining single business permit from the extremely rude staff at the county Huduma center offices. With diluted methylated spirit they treat our beards, with cheap oil they barn our hair, with cheap flour they bake doughnuts and cakes, with home-made generators they wash vehicles, every day, and still manage to make their life worthwhile, while our leaders check in and out of the country, matching in at the airports like the true descendants of Abraham, pulling behind them expensive suitcases into awaiting cars.

A Homeboyz Kinyozi, where you can get all styles, shaving style that is, I mean haircuts.

Success belongs to the brave teens, who possess the audacity to dare the most precarious roles for the sake of their ailing moms, those that quit school due to insufficient funds and work as night guards to get their younger siblings to school, those that silently give their all to help the community with small but generous acts, acts that the ignorant government is so blind to ever see or notice. To the 22 years old lady selling cosmetics, smuggled weaves, stolen crockery and second hand clothes, with her 10-months old baby on her back, who still manages to buy her kid medicine from a pharmacy, since her dispensary at her home is too poor and doesn’t have the medicine it prescribed for her ailing kid despite the fact that in the papers, several billions were allocated to the health sector.

Success belongs to the many souls that sweat profusely with our huge and heavy luggage on their backs, those that sit and wait for us at the matatu stops, so they call pull our lots from the village with their two wheeled manual carts, and yet manage to buy themselves lunch without necessarily indulging in crime, without robbing others, without getting on the wrong side of the terrible laws.

Success belongs to the men and women who ignore their desires to sleep and relax, who chooses to abide by apt zeal, those who wake up to keep their bodies ready for the Olympics, souls that fight with 4 a.m. cold, endure the threat of insecurity, all in the name of proving to the world that Kenya is the home of champions, without complaining of how they get mistreated by their coaches. Those that run for miles on their beaten shoes with torn soles, while the greedy officials fly with their families to Boston and Russia at the expense of the team’s dividends.

The nation is held together by such souls, stretched along the streets shining our shoes, generous hearts that share their surplus with the less fortunate.

And not because of the nominated officials who drink bottled Keringet and Dasani water on their god papas, black shades and Italian silk shirts.

And where was the government all this time. Where was our m.p when we buried our village man who was shot dead by bandits on his way home? Where was our governor when two lives were lost at the level five hospital’s maternity during delivery? Where were the senators we queued on the bloody lines to put in office… where were they when we starved to death and died of diseases resulting from flooded latrines, where were they when we cried out for aide as the heavy rains left us homeless and hopeless, when we got a relief of smuggled poisonous maize, when we got arrested by police officers for  no legal reasons, where were they when we lost hope of living or being called Kenyans?

They were busy driving for meetings convened in the heart of the city. Some were busy smuggling funds into their private accounts to educate their kids overseas. They were busy in parliament debating on change of the constitution, they were busy racketeering fake gold, they were feigning condolences at the burials and campaigning for a future we lost. They were busy foreseeing a 10 billion 41 kilometers road. On the coast they had fun, on the beaches they sun basked with their loved ones, in expensive hotels they spent nights, in the classic restaurants they ate decent foods, in the media they fought to evade red-hand scandals, in the offices they conspired long term profit outlets, all in the abuse of our meek naivety and indirect nationalism.  Because that, that is what it means to be patriotic Kenyan, dying from hunger in the name of building a rogue country, a country of a few men and women in air-conditioned France cars, imported Russian shoes, American electronics at their disposal and Japanese seaweed foods in their deep freezers.

How could they eat chips mwitu in Shirikisho kibanda when Hilton and Continental were meant for them? In fact, they own such hotels. How could they see the problems in our village dispensary when Hopkins in Maryland USA was where they were destined for check-ups? How could they understand why we drive unlicensed overloaded probox cars when they were busy being driven to their gated homes in German Mercedes? How could they know how poor our farms were due to the industrial pollution and unaffordable farm inputs when maidens always ensured fresh Canadian apples were on their tables? How could they see the horrible cost of living when they were busy borrowing funds from the World bank and selling our petroleum to pay for the debts that we owe foreign countries. How could they see our spoilt, broken and dirty bus stops when they flew airports to airports, generously shaking hands with dignitaries?

This is the government we chose; but this is the life we never saw in our thoughts; this is the story we never imagined in our critical imaginations, the story of an ingeniously greedy government. How can it recognize our small efforts while it is busy requesting for loans from the World bank at our expense? How can it care about our suffering while it’s president is busy chasing after his juniors who embezzled a dangerously huge amount of money and getting angry over controversial BBI report? How can it hear our sinking cries when it is loudly campaigning for the next elections which are in three years’ time?

We need change, else, it is a pity for us and for the lives that will come after us. So, get your ass up and start doing something. Building Kenya doesn’t necessarily mean being the president and overseeing multibillion projects. It doesn’t equal to running like Kipchoge in Olympics for Kenya, fighting like Dedan Kimathi and his colleauges. It means waking up to doing the smallest of sensible things. It means we start being serious with lectures, we stop stealing time at our workplace, we stop sitting down and idly waiting for some aliens from the blue to come and better our own country, it means we start putting candy wrappings in our pockets and dispose appropriately later, it means we give Kenya the best biggest brains that we are. How can we stop depending on Chinese companies while the engineers we are making in our universities are drunkards and meme lords, how can we vote for or against BBI report when we are busy spending HELB, BRANCH and TALA money doing nothing really but beating our chests around, claiming that we don’t fear being enlisted in the CRB. Go, wake up, do it, start it yourself. Then bit by bit, our individual small doings will realize a country General Itote would wake up to with a smiling face.

Positive Kenyanism, feel it and get up.


*All images adopted.*

@Shadowrine

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