Omari’s Story: “A Lesson for Kenyans Online”

A few days ago, a young man named Omari stood face to face with thugs. They had come to raid the Faraja orphanage in Ngong where he and 35 other children resided. This was not the first time.

The first time he had fought them off, thrown a hammer and hit one of them. They left. This time they were back for vengeance.

This is how I found out about the story.

Few more details of the story were known to me earlier this week when I donated a measly $5(that’s all I had in my Paypal) to the foundation that was trying to raise money to fence and wall up his orphanage.

Apparently I was not alone. While trying to raise $2,000 in a week, the post managed to pull $65,000 in a little over 24 hours. The kids at the orphanage and Omari were pleased beyond belief.

I was just flat out shocked. There was a moment of sincere joy because those kids deserve it, but a sour aftertaste followed when logging on to Twitter and following the pointless ongoing rambles.

Kenyans will never stop complaining about how much change is needed and how little of an impact we have as mere citizens – less so, citizens online. Someone on Twitter once shamelessly told me: “That’s because there are only like 10 million Kenyans with internet access.”

Only 10 million?

If there ever was a more ironic plaint of powerlessness it is that there are only 10 million Kenyans online. I know the actual CCK figure is a little bit higher, and the realistic number probably less, but amuse me for a second if you will.

Reddit has about 1 million unique views per day. That’s it. And of that 1 million, less than an eighth saw the post. In fact, boiling it down, of the half a million or so views, less than 3000 people had commented by the end of the first day. And very, very, very, very few of those were Kenyan. In fact, I venture to say few, if any, of the donations were Kenyan seeing as Paypal has some sort of vendetta with Kenyan banks.

Yet several thousand unconcerned parties, predominantly American, saved an orphanage in Ngong and then some. Meanwhile, Kenyans online were still focused on making ICC & Baraza jokes.

All 10 million of us.

Well not all of us. Some people are trying to do good.

In Catherine’s case, she ranked first in her region but doesn’t have enough to go the school fitting of her gifted mind – Alliance Girls. All she needs is 60,000/- before monday.

If even 10,000 of us donated 10 shillings each, she would be set for a while. If all of us lend our voices, she may get a scholarship and never pay another shilling towards fees. A life would be changed, a trend would be set; and all it would cost is 10 shillings and a Facebook comment or Tweet.

This is not to say we need to be do-gooders online all the time; having fun online is not illegal (yet). This is also not to say we need to give more money more often; let #KenyansForKenya stand as testament to how the pursuit of more money brings in corporations that will take a pure cause and turn it into controversy and a tax break.

This is just to say we need to focus on what matters. Us. The people. The wananchi. If only for a few seconds of our day. Because none of the folk on Ocampo’s list would be tweeting endlessly if you had to go to court trying to bail you out. None of the politicians running for president would try to raise money for you if you were in real trouble. No one in Parliament would form a search committee online for you if you went missing.

But someone like Catherine would. Someone like Omari would. Someone at Vision Africa will selflessly try to spread the word and someone at Diasporadical may even try help you.

Just like someone on Reddit did for Omari. And someone on Twitter is doing for Catherine.

At the end of the day, it really is just us here. And we kinda need to look out for each other.

That’s all.

Have a good weekend.

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