Most of us get excited when we hear the profound speech of Martin Luther King Jr. Is it just because it sounds like music to the ears or just because it is poetic? We sing the national anthem as a routine during the school assembly and national holidays, but we do not process the meaning of the words. We go to church and talk about love and unity yet when we go back to our homes we start to gossip about those we think are not like us.There is this song we used to sing when I was growing up. Part of the song said,”red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world! ” It’s amazing that no matter who you are, we are equal before God. Kenya is a country full of religious, socio-economic and cultural diversity. It is sad that this has not been fully embraced. We have stereotypes about other communities and this costs us our harmony as a country.
I acknowledge the fact that sometimes it is because of the environment we are brought up in. Maybe you were born in an area dominated by a particular religion and culture and you always hear these strange things about people who do not belong to your circle. You grow up with a lot of negativity and in turn pass it on to your children. However, this should not be an excuse! I have never really understood why there is so much ethnic division in Kenya.Perhaps it is because I have never grown up with people from my community. In fact for most of my life I have grown up with Kalenjins and Kikuyus and believe me I have met lots of wonderful people. Just because you are Kikuyu does not mean you are automatically greedy or just because you are Bukusu does not qualify you as a man-eater haha! The fact that you are human no matter where you are from means that you have a characteristic of fallibility. Nobody is perfect so anybody can be greedy as well not just for money but for power too. The schools I went to were full of diversity. I learnt a lot. I remember a Somali classmate giving a personal account of the horror she underwent because of Female Genital Mutilation. It made me understand that just because you come from communities that practice FGM does not mean that you support it. That is why we should raise our glasses to champions like Linah Jebii Kilimo who are willing to fight this inhuman practice.
When I tell people where I live, most give me the reaction of ” why do you live with Kikuyus and you are not?” When I was younger I was afraid to tell people where I lived because I feared too many questions or being judged. I feared that I would not fit in the tag of living in Nairobi where apparently the rich and mighty dwell. Let’s be honest and realistic. Not everybody who lives in Nairobi is rich and mighty. These are the kind of questions that fueled the 2007 Post Election Violence. Our country’s fabric of peace, love and unity was torn apart. Innocent lives were lost, people lost their homes and even though the physical scars were healed, the emotional ones still remain.
Let us not allow our beloved country to go back to what we witnessed! I remember being in a boarding school in Gilgil based near a GSU camp. I saw the officers ride their horses just in front of our school gate heading towards Naivasha which was on fire. We were children, we were scared. Imagine being in a protected school and still fearing for your life?What about that child who was out alone in the cold without anyone to protect him because his mother or father had been killed?
I also wonder why we always have to justify where we come from especially in terms of leadership. For example if I want to vie for an electoral seat in Nyanza, must I justify that my great grandfather or grandmother hails from the region? Why not choose me based on my ability to lead? This leads me to appointments in the government. Why should we solely concentrate on ethnic balance instead of quality leadership? However, I cannot deny the fact that there have been cases of nepotism and tribalism in this sector.Nevertheless, I believe that it should not be what we fully focus on. Let us focus on accountability, leadership, good policies , innovation and most of all, unity.
I remember Fr. Dominic Wamugunda mentioning in church that the strength of our nation lies in our diversity. These were powerful words on a serious note. On that particular day, the choir sang songs from diverse communities in Kenya and I thought it was beautiful! What if we applied the same concept in our daily life? Our country will be as Julie Gichuru says, Eden. Each of us should take full responsibility to ensure that we embrace our diversity. It will not be easy but as Martin Luther King Jr would say ”I have a dream. ” Let us be judged by the content of our character and not our communities, our region or the colour of our skin. Diversity is beautiful too.
Blessings to you and blessings to Kenya!!