I don’t know why this story has affected me so much. I suppose it’s because I feel like it happened while I watched. It started this morning with a tweet from an old school pal. I didn’t think that much about it. I was just glad that Twitter was being used for good. Lately, the Kenyan online community has gained mass, and the world is noticing. We’ve had several worldwide trends, and YouTube even gave us our own page! But too often, Kenyan Twitter Trends [or TTs] are used for malice, jokes, and mischief. So it was nice to see us RTing for good.
Throughout the day, there were updates and more RTs, punctuated by a silly Twitter beef. A group was formed on Facebook and the search continued. Life went on pretty much as usual, and I hoped this little boy would be found. Yes, I know he was 28 years old, but he was @njerimaina’s kid brother, and he was somebody’s son.
About an hour ago, the TT changed. It suddenly read #RIPMarkMuturi. I tried to find out what had happened, but nobody seemed to have accurate information, and I was wary about following Twitter rumours. It seems a lot of people were wary, because suddenly the #KOT timeline was full of people trying to find out what happened. I was glad that people were sensitive, and that nobody posted anything unsubstantiated.
A while later, I went to the MKZ page where I had first seen the information, and I found this. It shook me to my very core, and I’m still not really sure why. I suppose because it felt like he was alive when I RT’d this morning and now suddenly, he was gone. It felt like I had watched a man die.
I trawled my Twitter timeline, looking for people who knew him personally, trying to confirm what I had read. I noticed that even as everyone RT’d the RIP, there was a sense of shock. People wanted to know what had happened for the same reason that I did – there’s a paralysing fear in the unknown. It’s like being clear about just what had happened would give us a sense of closure. We didn’t know him personally, but finding out the details, however horrible they were, would somehow make us feel … better.
I noticed something else too. I noticed that life went on. The timelines continued. People were sad, curious, upset, but somehow, life on Twitter went on undisturbed. The jokes went on, the punchlines proceeded, the questions about this morning’s tweef were unabated. A man had died, but the living went on living. For some reason, that made me really sad.
I’ve always been a little paranoid about this thing called life. I live ten minutes from my brothers’ place, but on more than one occasion, they’ve been arrested on their way home from my flat. Apparently, the cops find you suspicious if you have big hair. It’s like you’re hiding weapons in your afro or something.
My brothers never mention the arrests, because they know I’ll panic, so I only find out when they joke about it later, or when it slips out. As expected, I go nuts for a few days and insist they call the second they arrive. Of course, there are days when they forget to call, and I worry for a while before I finally doze off. Sometimes, when I’m really testy, I’ll call and ask them why they didn’t text. So I know this week, I’ll be a nervous wreck, calling those I love, making sure they’re okay, building up my Bonga Point Count.
But then the fever will pass, they’ll tell me not to worry, and I’ll forget the pain and unease until this happens to someone else.
There are no guarantees in life. We’re all going to die someday, and all the prayers and the money in the world can’t stop that. Wangari Maathai won a Nobel prize. Steve Jobs owned a billion dollar brand. The both had more money than they knew what to do with. But all their savings couldn’t buy a cure for cancer.
People die every day. In hospitals, in fires, in shocking ways and stupid ways. You could have a heart attack in climax, or you could get knocked down while crossing the road. In life, the only guarantee is change … and death. All you can do is love the ones you love, let them know you care, and try to leave a mark in the world. When you go, you go, and life goes on. But try to live so people will know that you were there, and people will notice when you’re gone.
Rest in Peace @MarkiyMark,
and may we never forget that you were here.