Before I get started: Please remember to register as a voter. Deadlines are approaching, it’s a quick and easy process.
I was fortunate enough not to be around during Post-Election Violence in 2007.
I was somewhere in Obamaland pursuing that elusive piece of paper they call a Degree. Also,
making wasting money.
At the time, it wasn’t Obamaland yet.
It was still Bush America. Worse still, post 9/11 Bush America where Muslims and immigrants were blamed for every problem in the US. You could almost draw a flow chart to all the problems in the country.
Fuel prices shoot up > Fuel comes from the Middle East > “Arabs muslim fundamentalists and Islamic extremists” live there > Blame terrorism.
Budget overshot by trillions > We’re paying for 2 wars > “Arabs muslim fundamentalists and Islamic extremists” started those wars > Blame terrorism.
From a social standpoint it was a nightmare. Imagine if you will being a Kenyan Muslim student studying Chemical Engineering in “Rural America” where most colleges are located.
For the first 6 years after 9/11, you’d be suffering on 4 levels:
1. You’re Muslim. Why do you hate America? Why do you hate Jesus?
2. You’re studying us so you can bomb us?
3. You’re an immigrant. Why are you eating into my tax dollars? Why can’t you just stay in your own damn country?
4. You’re not white, you f**king nigger.
And if you’re lucky, it’ll just be subtle undertones and unspoken tension. If you’re not, it’s a daily struggle, sneaking out of your apartment early so that you don’t meet your pistol packing redneck neighbor who once told you “Muslims are easier to gut than deer” as he goes hunting that morning. Or professors who consistently curve your grades downward because “your kind don’t deserve to be on scholarship”. And they refuse to help you because you might be planning an attack. And then when you get home, you file away hate notes that found their way under your door every day, along with charred pages of the Qur’an in them with lewd messages written on the back, before sitting down and watching the news on why you are the problem.
After 2007 however, there was a 5th problem.
5. You are Kenyan. Your country is at war with itself. Your people are violent.
Every time you looked on CNN all you’d see was the violence, charred bodies still bubbling, children with cracked skulls and police opening fire at people standing in the middle of the street setting tyres on fire. The media made people believe. Now you got stereotyped for being a Kenyan over and above the regular BS.
Yesterday, I had a lengthy conversation about how negativity spreads and the “Children of the 5th Monkey“. I explained that we are not a violent people, but we have been socialized to violently react to certain issues. The bulk of them being political. We don’t follow legal proceedings or champion bills in parliament. We march, protest, burn down a small shack, throw stones, storm streets.
And lately, we exhibit those same reactions to terrorism.
For those old enough to remember Black Friday, do you remember the atmosphere then? We lost close to 300 Kenyan lives to acts of terrorism by Islamic Fundamental groups but did we react violently? If anything, I remember we pulled together.
Now, things have changed. I wrote about the old Somali gent and the child who got thrown off a matatu because they’d been a bombing in town. Sign of the times to come. Because now we’re in the thick of things, the media is printing and televising the total body count as a reminder every few days, the military is under pressure, and there is a true sense of fear and attacks every other week.
I worry when I see that.
Some media houses aren’t rallying for peace or calling for governmental action. They’re inciting people. Point blank period.
Every news story mentions explicitly that “A Somali man was seen entering the bus minutes before it blew up” as though no Somali men ever board buses in Eastliegh.
Or “A young Somali man rumored to be with Al-Shabaab was seen running from the explosion.” Obviously, because nobody else ran from the explosion. Everyone just kinda stood there, except for that suspicious guy with curly hair over there.
That’s where we are now: a few years away from replicating Post-9/11 USA in Kenya.
The immediate problem with this underlying tension is that we have elections next year and there’s already other feuds bubbling related to that.
Sigh. What sane Kenyan wouldn’t be scared? Cop killings, matatu strikes, MRC, tribal violence, political violence, terrorists….This is like watching a tsunami of violence about to drown your country. But, watch our politicians reactions to it, for one second.
The politics of fear is how countries elect warlords for terms on end because the people are scared and the leaders have promised. It is extremely easy to get caught in the whirlwind of bullshit anger and hate, and forget to remain one Kenya. Because who are we really scared of, other Kenyans?
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end. This is either where we begin the end of all the xenophobia and tribalism that will guarantee that 2013 will make 2007 look like a small barfight. Or we sit back and let the boulder keep rolling down the hill until it crushes the entire nation when it drops.
I’m halfway praying for El Niño so that people stay home for the next few months and just chill out.