Lest We Forget: “The Bomb Blast, The Famine and The Upcoming Elections”

“I’m thinking I should be a politician.”, said my boy out of the blue yesterday. We were just about to descend from the matatu into town.

“Why?” I asked.

“I think I’d do quite well in politics. Essentially, all I’d be doing is socializing and pointing fingers, right? It’s like a career game of chess.”

We was right but I couldn’t outwardly agree with him so I asked him what he’d do for the mwananchi once in power.

He stopped walking and laughed. “Kenyans are a funny bunch. They have a very limited attention span. They will watch you intently and then watch someone else intently and forget all about you altogether.” He coughed and got serious. “Put it this way, whether I did good or bad, there’d be resistance. So since Kenyans seem to know what they want, I’ll just go with the flow and collect my day’s pay. They won’t remember me anyway.”

“Yeah they will. They…”

He cut me off and pointed to the people walking around the corner: “They don’t even remember the people that died there and they’re going to remember me?” as he pointed at the August 8 memorial, where people unceremoniously walked past without a second thought.

How many of us forgot yesterday was the 13th year since the August 7th bombings? I know my mother did. She actually asked me to Google it after seeing it on the late night news. Reluctantly, I did and as I was walking away to let her use the computer, I felt a sudden residual sadness. I remember speaking with a friend in 2004 who was among the 4,000 ‘injured’ – he had his kneecap knocked off by flying debris – and he said ‘If they say only 200 people died, they’ve lied.’ He related to me stories of being in hospital and watching person after person get sent downstairs to the morgue. He teared up telling me about his little sister who fought for her life for a week before giving up and dying. And how they didn’t even know where she was until long after she had been ‘disposed of’. He and many others who were there and who survived REFUSE the death toll stopped at 200 Kenyans. I’m more inclined to believe them than some random statistic given by the two governments I trust the least.

It’s kinda like a week ago, mid famine, when Alfred said ‘So far, the government does not have any official reports that a Kenyan has died as a result of the hunger.'(actual quote here) Except this time was different. People went up in arms about that. We reacted, energetically and united. It was actually quite beautiful. And it helped fuel the #FeedKE and #KenyansForKenya initiatives. We, as Kenyans, raised a giant middle finger to the government and grabbed the bull of famine by the horns – to the best of our abilities. Speaking of ‘bull’, it would’ve been nice if the corporates had joined the people and reinforced Ahmed’s original initiative rather than overshadowing it with their own, but regardless of where their hearts were, ours were with our people. And close to a billion shillings later, it’s clear that when we want to, we can make a change and shift the status quo. If there is a problem, we don’t need to wait for Kibaki & Co. to decide we’re a priority; we just make ourselves the priority and go about making the change we need in our lives.

At night, I pray this isn’t a one-off occurrence. I pray that this spirit of solidarity is not lost on us when the second shoe drops and we have to heave harder. I pray we remember to work together next year as we elect the people that have to lead this new Kenya and the years after that as we build our country. I’m of the opinion that choosing a President here is like choosing a mobile phone network, they’re all useless, they just have different funds available to them. Also, different people pledge allegiance to different ones. And that is important, having a choice. But what is even more crucial is that we all elect to demand and effect the changes we want to see happen. We need to all remember where we’ve come from, look at where we are, and march in unison to where we need to be.

My friend was right when he said that we very easily forget where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and that politicians take full advantage of these facts. We forget to learn from past experiences and set ourselves up for future mistakes. Let’s not forget next year; not about the strife and struggles that have led to this point, be they as unfortunate as Black Friday or the 2007 Post-Election violence, or as beautiful as the efforts behind famine relief or the Promulgation of the New Constitution.

Let us learn that the power to change this country is indeed in our hands and our voices and that we need to be prepared to use them wisely come next year and the year after that if we ever want to reclaim our homeland.

Have a blessed week.

5 thoughts on “Lest We Forget: “The Bomb Blast, The Famine and The Upcoming Elections”

  1. I saw a tweet about August 7th before going to sleep yesterday

    ” @E_Donatelli: most people did. “@mojo706: Im ashamed I forgot about 7/8/1998”

    That is how I remembered. Shame on me!
    I agree. We do forget very fast. Unless it is in the news, we never think about it. Our thinking and acting is very much controlled by the media. Which is a pity because the media we are laying our future on is a mediocre one that sleeps with our biggest enemy. I digress though! We see, we make noise, we forget! Is it because there are too many evils that we can’t keep track of the evils of yesterday with the wake of another day? Or is it that we give up so quickly? I believe that we aren’t alone. No one talks about Japan anymore. To the world, Haiti is a distant memory……

    And you know why we reelect the Mpigs? The same reason. We forget too fast.

    Like you, I hope we shall not forget the ills of this regime come 2012, I hope we shall be Kenyans for Kenya for a long time…. in times of famine and rain…and remember Sonko and his compartments of madness, we have too much to remember, lest we forget!

    Amazing piece!

  2. I was having a chat with a few friends on Saturday and I realised that the public is tired.
    Tired of the lies, of the inflation, of the bloodshed…especially of the bloodshed.
    I’m excited yet scared at the same time. The feeling of exhaustion is fine, it will push the change we need.
    How do we stop it from turning bloody?????
    That’s the question.

  3. We may have forgotten to remember the past…as such, we are bound to repeat it. Look at the porous borders…look at the Immigration. ID Dept fiasco…..then you hear that AlShabab has cell’s in the country…. we have indeed remembered to forget that when something as big as Aug-7th happens, it started with an oversight here, a bribe there….and the storm gathered. Talk of a butterfly fluttering wings in India causing a typhoon in Brazil off-shore…

    Same with famine. I read somewhere that drought is nature-caused, but famine is the works of Governments. It’s sad that while some people are dying in Turkana, kilometres away in the same region, there is a bumper harvest of sorghum and millet thanks to irrigation. In Wajir…..the water table is very high that even building latrines is prohibited…what are the people there doing about that? It’s funny how people operate….you insist on eating ugali with unga going for a 120+ yet potatoes are 20/- per jkg! Am I missing something here……

    As for the elections….. I am willing to bet that the political-class hasn’t learnt a lesson from the violence of 2008….when lights went off in Kenya, as Salim said. But I hope we the voters don’t forget. If I were an editor, I’d publish the shocking images that were edited on Black-Friday in 2008, just to remind Kenyans what the political class is capable of………lest they forget!

  4. Pingback: Who Am I Voting For in 2012? | Diasporadical

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