The Revolution Kenya Will Never Know

I’m going to do three things today.

First I’m going to tell you why I do not care -and frankly, have never cared – about our new constitution. Then I’m going to tell you why I’m not a patriot. But let me start by telling you why you’re all cowards.

It’s 2010: 80 years after Harry Thuku formed the EAA, 60 years after Kenyatta was imprisoned as the leader of the Mau Mau; half a century since over 150,000 innocent Kenyans were dehumanized during the Mau Mau Uprising, with over 1 million others being displaced and held in concentration camps. It’s also been 40 some years since we brought down the Union Jack and raised our own flag and yet here we stand acting like a bunch of senseless slaves.

Here we sit, comfortable in our couches and our lives, content with talking about how f*cked up everything is; and even more content to not do anything about it.

Proud to be Kenyan at a time when being Kenyan means being a part of corruption & police brutality, being parcel to pathetic road systems & overcrowded prisons, illiteracy, backward cultures, racism and tribalism… More dramatically, proud to be Kenyan not despite those things but because of them.

Here we stand, a nation of the poor, disenfranchised and discriminated against, holding our heads high as though the fight has long been over. They say if you can’t beat them, join them. Kenyans stopped trying to beat them with the previous generation. Our generation; the first truly free generation; consists of sheeple who follow Western trends blindly and have mastered the art of finding the easy way out. Be it in crying foul and sitting on benches outside the Hilton Hotel waiting for jobs to descend from the sky, or in becoming professional beggars with hair braid schemes that never come to fruition; we are afraid of the struggle, the sweat and the blood we’d have to shed. We are the generation of complacent professional beggars. We’re afraid to push boundaries and as such allow our leaders to control which walls to push in and when.

Now, just to be clear, when I say “we” or “Kenyans”, I don’t mean all of us. I just mean the critical mass. Because at the end of the day, the critical mass is all that matters. Because even if 100 people decide to move left, there’s 40 million more who can move right. And this doesn’t mean all 40 million need to be behind a cause: in fact, you don’t even need 20 million. All you need is a dedicated million or two to put their feet down, raise their fists up and say “Change something or we will.” That’s all you need for a revolution: a dedicated number of people to get angry at everything that’s wrong. And not get angry and start fighting each other, but get angry and do something about it.

Instead we sit at home throwing verbal darts at the 9pm news and then go out to party any night of the week. Celebrating. As if we won something.

The constitution – bless the souls that worked for it – might as well be bad toilet paper if this is the population we’re going to rely on to enforce it. A people that expects the government to ensure we got our due. This government? I’m sorry, am I meant to believe that the last constitution had enough provisions for them to thrive and get rich, but not us? And if so, how exactly is this one going to be different? Kibaki, Raila or otherwise, THEY DON’T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT YOU, ME OR ANYTHING WE REPRESENT. Nobody will spoon feed you anything. You have to fight for your own rights. Stand up and demand them. We keep this nation moving, together, we can make it stop and listen. Constitution or not, we should all be resolved to make a change.

But alas, that won’t happen.

Many times, I bite my tongue for fear of sounding like a complete hater, but let’s be real, as a unit of people, we DO NOT have our act together. We don’t speak with one voice because we’re constantly bickering and arguing with each other. And we do this for so long, that the most corrupt among us slither their way up the ladder. Once they do, you know what we do? We still our hands out and start begging.

A wise friend told me that people get the leaders they deserve. Next time you look at our leaders and shake your head, don’t feel disappointed in them, feel responsible and ashamed in yourself and your people. For all the complaining we constantly do, isn’t it amusing that the government for the past few decades consists of essentially the same people playing musical chairs every election.

If the leadership is the problem, why don’t we just get rid of them? All of them? Why aren’t there more politically active youths really kicking up dust and preaching revolution? Instead, we bank our hopes on this guy and hope that this time, maybe this time, after 3 decades of being at the helm of this sinking ship, this time he’ll actually do something. I mean, doesn’t it kinda piss you off that ‘Hope’, according to the youth, looks like this?
Mike Sonko

Clowns, jesters, goons, and pariahs disguised as businessmen or lawyers. And that’s just the best of them. The rest of them – the majority at that – are oversized parasitical leeches and sloths in business suits sucking the sap out of this country and its people. When times get hard, they tighten your belt and go on vacation. When times are good, they tighten your belt even more and take their friends on vacation too.

Greed rules this country in ways some people will never understand. And not because they’re stupid either. It’s simply beyond their realm of comprehension. You can’t possibly explain to a hard working cleaner in a building who rakes in 5,000/= a month that Sonko didn’t flinch when he lost 100million, can you?

The gap between the rich and the poor is not thousands vs. hundreds of thousands or hundreds vs millions. In Kenya, it’s a battle of pennies vs. billions and if you don’t have enough to play the game, you shut up and stay on the sidelines.

And those sidelines are crowded with professional beggars, proud of their condition, scared of what they deserve, hoping for change to come.

I refuse to be one of them. I refuse to be comfortable. I refuse to be content and – because a change is needed – I refuse to be proud of this country. Because this is not the Kenya We Deserve. It’s not the Kenya We Want. It’s not even the Kenya we work for. This is the Kenya that’s been shoved into our lap like prison gruel by the fat fingers of greedy wardens, as they say “Eat it or starve.”

I’d rather starve than partake in this. I’d rather they say I’m not a patriot because I plan to change my country; forcefully if need be. Why?

Because I’m more Malcolm X than Martin Luther, more Huey P. than Mother Theresa. I don’t believe we can take this lying down and they’ll eventually realize the wrong in their ways. Kenyans that they are, they KNOW what they’re doing is wrong, and are proud of it. So although I may not do it on this blog all the time because…well, it’s tiring and depressing and ultimately pointless, I do so in my personal life. As we all should. It’s not about getting in the comments and being up and rowdy saying “We aren’t content, we aren’t complacent”. OK, fine, then what are YOU doing about it? At the end of the day, it’s about getting out there and not masking your anger. It’s about sparking the revolution we’ll never see if you content yourself with…this.

Like Malcolm and Huey, I look at the people I belong to and hang my head before I raise my voice.

It’s sad to see people resigned to being disadvantaged.

Apologies for the occasionally colorful language. This was written in one sitting. One very angry sitting.

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28 thoughts on “The Revolution Kenya Will Never Know

  1. Tell you what, I’ve always wondered what them Thai redshirts-and yellow ones I think-have that makes them so passionate about their country that we dont have. These guys, a million of them, take to the streets for a month till shit gets done. We are just too keen on self preservation as a people and as individuals to do shit. But this is our land, we’ll or rather I, will sink with this ship. Why I don’t know. Call it blind patriotism.

  2. WOW. Thats a lot of angry. But I get it and on a day when I look at it I’ve shared the sentiments with my friends and family. I think since we fall into a helpless state so easily, the important thing is to find what you as an individual can do and proceed to do it.

  3. “I mean, doesn’t it kinda piss you off that ‘Hope’, according to the youth, looks like this?” That is all… A certain old man where I come from always laughs off what we can Youth Inspiration… and if Sonko and the likes are the Hope… Then let me remain Hopeless. Insightful Post!

  4. as much as i feel your pain and anger at the way things are (esp the face of the ‘future’ eek!), i’ve been priveledged to see that under that cloud of greedy shortsighted loudmouths we so galantly call our leaders are a movement of workers transforming small parts of our country bit by bit, or in a very practical sense tree by tree. i have seen areas that were previously considered arid and unproductive, turned into little havens of running water, treed paths and so much fruit! and there are many of those.. i cant wait to see what d nxt 5 years will bring as the policies put in place by these goons in their few moments of sobriety, take effect. i am a proud kenyan, simply for the hope of better things and the sweat of the few who actually work for the better of the country.

  5. Blind optimism is what we’re plagued with. A new constitutional dispensation was never meant to solve our problems but it does have the potential of laying the foundation for a better Kenya. Now is the time to push for the reforms that we would allow us to realise our Vision 2030.

    All is not lost.

  6. Nice post.

    I think what’s fundamentally wrong with Kenyans is that we’ve suffered the worst form of betrayal: betrayal by our so-called liberators. In succession since we were “liberated” from colonialism, each liberation has been a lesson in disillusionment. Uhuru brought us the plunder of Nyayo era, the second liberation from Nyayo brought us post-election violence, Anglo-leasing and more disillusionment. We’ve now been liberated by a new constitution and, as aptly illustrated in this post, hope that the youth will liberate us from the old corrupt past. But the same youths were the foot soldiers in the PEV….Until we liberate ourselves and stop putting so much stock on external interveners, be they Messianic figures who promise to turn Mombasa into a Dubai in 5 years, or a piece of document promulgated on a day when balloons refuse to fly, we shall never be free.

  7. Powerful and unfortunately 100% correct.

    There are enough disillusioned folks that are too scared or discouraged to do something. I need to get MY but in gear, and do something.

  8. I read this post as soon as you wrote it, but I wasn’t sure how to respond. I think I suffer from what AnonyMiss called blind optimism. I cross the road whenever I see a cop and curse them daily for randomly arresting my siblings, but I still feel proud and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Ever.

    Early this morning, I tried to figure out why that is exactly. I read a quote on FB that said ‘Patriotism is believing your country is better than any other, simply because you were born there.’The only other country I’ve lived in is Tanzania, and every day, I ached to come back home. Every holiday, I’d feel transformed the second I saw the traffic lights on Mombasa Road.

    There’s a lot that I’d like to change, but somehow, it doesn’t make me angry or even vaguely revolutionary. I like the new constitution because it theoretically changed two things that were important to me – abortion, and dual citizenship. Of course, with 47 counties, it also made GHC [what is it called now, Social Studies?] immensely harder for my baby, but we can’t win them all.

    My revolution is the silent kind. I choose to stay positive, smile at the world, thrive, survive, and make my change in my own small way. For me, that’s more than enough.

  9. I had a 2 part reaction to this piece.

    The first part was knee-jerk defense position (If things are so bad…what have YOU done about it?) which lasted all of 30 seconds.

    And then I got it.

    We have a tenant mentality.

    If you own your crib, you’ll do all in your power, regardless how humble the abode is to keep it looking its best. You’ll do the housekeeping and flay the hide of anyone who has the temerity to dump garbage in your backyard. Tenants on the other hand have some authority who’s expected to come in and rectify/solve/save/ the day on every issue from leaky faucets to neighborhood insecurity. After all…you don’t own the house do you?

    The revolution sought is not the big bang method. Change happens in small bits..almost imperceptibly. Much like the tide coming in. And all boats get lifted by the tide…be they huge cargo container ships, or dhows. So we start small. Get people to care for their hoods. Then they care for their towns. Then for their country.

    We stop being tenants…and become owners.

  10. This is some fantastic writing Icon.

    Sounds like a post I would have done in 2002, the naive 19 year old who spent 2 unpaid nights at the local ECK Office, participating in the vote counting and tallying, because in my heart I believed this was a new beginning and wasn’t going to give Moi a chance to mess it up.

    Well,8 years later, I wouldn’t say I’ve given up on this country (I no longer vote), but I’m very realistic on my expectations as a Kenyan. We are a certain kind of people, love comfort zones and as such, no day will we sacrifice to see this country be at a better place politically, unless it’s involuntary (in the case of a coup or civil war).
    What does that mean for me as an individual?
    I’m no longer invested in our politics. They make good comedy.
    I’m more concerned in what Kellie is doing to make the world (not just Kenya) a better place, whether it’s by choosing not to litter, or helping one more child get education, I sleep easy at night, and ignore everyone who accuses me of being the reason we have bad leadership.

  11. If not a revolution, Kenya definitely wil need a biblical plague! We need a new beginning. New faces. New leaders. New followers. The moral decay, economic greed and political instability that our country is engulfed in has reached irreversible proportions. We’re way beyond needing a revolution!

  12. Angry indeed!! And let us all say Amen….ok now go out and do something about it. What you ask? Well that depends on your talents, passion, skills, and ability. Volunteer. Have u ever considered teaching someone how to read, write? Ever said wsup to a parki and gotten to know them assuming they are not holding a knife to your throat. Have you ever considered teaching someone how to put together a resume, be an excellent interviewee? How about how to use a computer, ms office? Ever wondered what all these ngo’s do in AFRICA. Ever thought about giving a few hours of your week or month or year to making a difference in someone’s life. Am tired of watching foreigners come here, get inspired/moved by all our hopelessness and change lives with simple ideas, why can we see what they see and do something about it for @#$ sake, its our damn country. Truth is, the most sustainable change will come from us. To EACH ONE TEACH ONE!! So get a bunch of friends you drink with, hang out with and brainstorm things to do, for your people. SPARE A BEER a day and save a child!!!!!! 180 can buy food even for a parki. You can adopt one by feeding them, mentor them, treat them like they are human. Cos beneath it all, we are all human and dont mind people who care about us. Go to a school as ask what you can do to help. If your into medicine teach someone how to deliver a baby in your shags. Do you know more than 6,000 women die giving birth in kenya. Ya its 2010 alright. Find those women groups and teach them some business skills etc etc. ABOVE ALL, tell people around you to quit whining and DO SOMETHING!!!!!!
    PS: Apologies for long post!! ahem

  13. I feel you Ali. I just have one issue-we’re too dependent on emotion. Think about it- how many of us have been to the same children’s home more than once? The spinal injury hospital? KNH children’s cancer ward?

    Anyone heard of Afya Kenya Foundation? It’s an organisation that provides health care for those who can’t afford it. They raise the funds as well as doing the actual work: Check ups, treatment, dispensing drugs, blood drives, community clean ups… the full deal. Who runs it? A couple of guys barely out of campus (Actually I think some of them are still there…). Look them up. They do it and do it… and do it again.

    My point: If you’re going to do something, do it… And keep doing it. If all we’re going to do is wait til we’re emotionally charged/touched then hey… All we’ll ever remain with is a whole bunch of blog posts and good intentions.

    • i recommend you find another lonesome who thinks just like you and see what you can do about whatever you like.
      @miss simple: emotions are good when they drive us to action..and that is the missing link. I gave up on waiting on govt or anyone. I will beg for money on the street in the bar if its going back to the community and making services available for the same people that give of their time and money. I just feel like a lot of peeps are waiting on some external salvation and dont realize that it lies within themselves to change things.

      • Emotion is a good as a starter but for most people it cannot be the fuel that drives us. I’m talking about emotion and not passion. Emotion is that ‘wow, I feel good today lemme give a coin to the lady at the corner’ feeling. It never lasts beyond the day.

        What I need is passion. That’s what keeps me going even when I don’t feel like being a good citizen. Even when it seems I’m the only one left who cares… or even when despite all my efforts my work still seems to amount to nothing.

        Passion is what drives you. Get disillusioned for a day… but don’t give up!

        Let’s keep at it people! It aint over yet.

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  16. Anger is good motivator.
    Agree with much of what you had to say here.
    Except what exactly did you mean by backward cultures? Find most Kenyan cultures to be extremely progressive.

  17. Mh. The everyday Kenyan doing what he/she does best— counting the ills and totally ignoring the many strides made this far. But the most depressing remark in this whole post must be: “The constitution – bless the souls that worked for it – might as well be bad toilet paper”.

    Any Kenyan who didn’t appreciate that the fact that for once, we were discussing issues and not personalities during the constitution-making process is one Kenyan who needs more than a pair of glasses to see that Kenya is coming of age, though at a slower pace.

    And yes, this remark continues to sound more pathetic by the day and as the “bad toilet paper” continues to steered us to demand better from our leaders & judge our leaders not by where they come from or how they look (read: stud wearing Willy Mutunga) but by the content of their character. Change may not be happening pap, but buddy, it is happening.

  18. Mh. The everyday Kenyan doing what he/she does best— counting the ills and totally ignoring the many strides made this far. But the most depressing remark in this whole post must be: “The constitution – bless the souls that worked for it – might as well be bad toilet paper”.

    Any Kenyan who didn’t appreciate that the fact that for once, we were discussing issues and not personalities during the constitution-making process is one Kenyan who needs more than a pair of glasses to see that Kenya is coming of age, though at a slower pace.

    And yes, this remark continues to sound more pathetic by the day coz your so-called “bad toilet paper” is continuing to steer us to demand better from our leaders & judge our leaders not by where they come from or how they look (read: stud wearing Willy Mutunga) but by the content of their character. Change may not be happening pap, but buddy, it is happening.

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