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An open letter to Kenya: My land and nation

By  Wanja Gitari
 

Dear Kenya,

What is your affliction? Are you grieving the cruel loss of your sons and daughters, and the mindless destruction of property? Oh, do you remember just recently being showered with superlatives: a strong African economy; African model of democracy; Peaceful nation ...? Didn't international organizations, corporations and tourists choose you as their enclave and destination?

Oh Kenya, your soil has once again soaked up the blood of your sons and daughters. They all have gone into an early grave. Yet, not too long ago your children carried on with normal life: buying and selling, courting and marrying, learning and graduating, working and earning, nursing and burying. They had, during pre-2007 election days, arrived at a place where they could fully devote time to developing a civil culture, eliminating the scourges of AIDS and abject poverty and reversing environmental degradation. See, they also peacefully campaigned and elected their leaders.

But, the same soil that eagerly nursed the tender roots of democracy would, in shock and disbelief, suddenly soak up the blood of your sons and daughters. Did you know that all along some of your children had been relentlessly seeking an opportunity to destroy your unity, peace, and liberty?

Just the other day you bellowed in glory. Your capital city, Nairobi, was clean and attractive, like a maiden prepared for her suitor. Walking in Nairobi was a pleasure. Such a relaxed atmosphere was unheard of a few years ago. Kenyans from all walks of life were to be heard saying that "there is now an environment of enablement in Kenya." What they meant is that the regular folk could bring their dreams to fruition, such as owning a business. Not too long ago I spoke to several housewives who had looked in vain for a young woman to hire for domestic work. Because of the environment of enablement most young women were pursuing business opportunities or going back to school.

Although this is a time of mourning, it is also a time of prayer, much, much prayer. Allow me to invoke your national anthem: O God of all creation, Bless this our land and nation; Justice be our shield and defender; May we live in unity, peace, and liberty; Plenty be found within our borders.

Prior to 1963 you fought for independence. After much struggle you won your freedom for self governance, although it sometimes seems as if you won your freedom for self-destruction. But of course, like a child learning how to walk you are bound to fall and scrape your knees -- even at 40-something years. However, this December after the national election you did not just bruise yourself, you actually cracked your skull. Looking to the future, you need self-determination, not selfdestruction. You must now purpose to live above mediocrity and violent inclinations.

To achieve self-determination there must be a complete shift in your thinking. Your sons and daughters must stop looking to their own interests, but instead look to the interests of other Kenyans. The powerobsessed must pause and ask themselves, power at what expense? Indeed, it is time for the power obsessed to look inward and to cry out for healing from within their deep-seated emotions. In this regard, Kenya, you will need change that is genuine and lasting.

Change, if it will last, must come from within your soul and soil. You must pursue the type of change that will come from a shift in perspective, the type of change that will result to complete healing. Now, take your stride daughter of Africa, and forgive those who have elected themselves to maim, rape and kill. Forgive them because your healing must come and it cannot come without forgiveness. Forgive those who have spoken words of death to each other. Forgive those who have cheated and rigged the voting process. Please forgive. Forgive the madness, the insolence, the hatred and indignation. Forgive!!

And here is a final thought. May I humbly suggest that now is the time to to instil peace into your sons and daughters? Please find the resources and the presence of mind. Would you consider, for instance, widely teaching peace in your school curriculum?

I see that help is pouring in from your friends, and from your children who are residing in other parts of the global village. Take this help. But always remember, as most of your children continue to live in abject poverty, as the waters of Lake Victoria gradually dissipate and snow pitifully disappears from the top of Mt. Kenya, and as the AIDS disease gruesomely steals your children, pursue peace. You will need peace in order to deal with these other deadly courges. Let peace prevail!! Won't you?

Wanja Gitari is an associate professor with the University of Toronto Transitional Year Program and a native of Kenya whose heart is breaking at the post-election violence tearing her homeland asunder.

Added: November 5th 2008
Reviewer: Professor Wanja Gitari
Score: 10  
Hits: 1337
Language: english

  

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