“Man’s constitution is so peculiar that his health is purely a negative matter. No sooner is the rage of hunger appeased than it becomes difficult to comprehend the meaning of starvation. It is only when you suffer that you really understand.” – Jules Verne
The only fictional work I’ve ever read, cover to cover, were High School set-books.
Only because I had to.
Although it was many years ago, I remember reading Bhabani Battacharya’s “So Many Hungers”. While I’ve forgotten the plot, character development and all that other literature stuff we had to cram for the final exam, I still remember the deeply moving and heart-wrenching images of hunger and poverty in India portrayed by the author: “children crying themselves to death; mothers killing their own children for want of milk and food; hungry infants seen sucking the breasts of their mother who have already died of starvation; mothers selling their daughters and even sending them to brothels for the sake of food; a mass of corpses strewn everywhere and a myriad vultures gazing down upon them. The corpses lying everywhere, picked to the bone; only the hair uneaten; fluffy baby’s hair, man’s hair, the waist-long hair of women..”
Bhabani’s lacerating account of a whole population staring death in the face could easily be used to describe the situation in the forgotten Northern frontier of Kenya and across the border in Somalia. Last night on prime time news, they interviewed a man from Somalia who had buried 7 children on his way to Mogadishu, just one in the many tragic stories coming from the drought-stricken areas of Northern Kenya and Somalia.
Can you imagine the horror and pain that a human being goes through before finally succumbing to death from hunger?
Meanwhile here in Nairobi, my colleagues, friends and readers could be skimming through this on the smartphones as they wait to be served a sumptuous lunch in those lunch spots where the tables literally groan under the weight and variety of food.
Ordinarily this would be the part where I spew bile at the government for their greed and lack of policies for fair and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities throughout our country. But, I won’t. Not today.
Today the guilt-filled weight of knowing I’m not any more Kenyan than those dying of starvation in the North is why I feel that I must start being part of the change I seek.
I, as an individual, must contribute to the change I seek by embracing an “I must do something” attitude over the tired “something must be done”. Rather than simply complaining and blaming government, I can start by adjusting my own approach – is it fair when I wait for ‘Mututho Hour’ (Friday 5:01 PM) and unload my wallet at the pub yet there is a Kenyan family out there trying to share the fruits of a wild cactus?
Luckily, there is already an initiative called #FeedKE that wants to help and all it needs from me is a contribution. The images I have seen over the last week have moved me enough to finally write this and encourage all those reading this to donate generously to this worthy cause.
Lets join hands to “Feed Kenya”
Ways to Donate:
• On M-Pesa Paybill to ‘10,000’ Acc ‘feedke’
• On Airtel nickname ‘REDCROSS’ reference ‘feedke’
• Online: www.kenyaredcross.org