By Mukurima X Muriuki
Kenya is a mosaic of 42 tribes. We have hundreds of languages and a multitude of cultures and histories. Some Kenyans are sedentary, others are nomads; many are farmers, quite a number are herdsmen; some are fishers, a few are criminals, many are corrupt; some are highly educated, others are just literate; some are very successful, many others are not so fortunate. Every Kenyan has a unique history, culture and pride.
Though we are as many and diverse when grouped and classified, there is something that inseparably weaves us together-our national anthem. It is a prayer where we bow before our Lord with the following in the 3rd stanza:
Let ALL with one accord
In common bond united
Build this OUR nation TOGETHER
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of OUR labour
Fill EVERY heart with thanksgiving.
This prayer is premised on ALL Kenyans, not some Kenyans. This prayer raises the manhood of ALL Kenyans and not just Kikuyu. This prayer humanizes ALL Kenyans and does not push away the Luo. This prayer binds ALL Kenyans to better days ahead and does not exclude the Mijikenda.
We cannot however, pretend that in this marriage, in this union called Kenya, that we have been as faithful and fervent to this prayer.
I however, refuse to agree with David Ndii that the answer to this predicament is a divorce! Divorce, even in relationships, is for the lazy, those who do not want to explore options to avoid that D word!
It reminds me of a mediation I was part of a while back. A couple wanted to go separate ways, or what we say in my local “Gwitana mirura”. The wife was adamant the husband wasn’t in love with her, or if he was, he wasn’t showing that love! On hearing this, I further queried the wife on what it would take for the husband to show that he loved her.
“He always leaves dirty dishes on the sink. And because my nails are made I can’t do the dishes. So they end up being on the sink for days. But he doesn’t see it that way”she said.
When it came to the turn of the husband, the realization was that washing dishes wasn’t manly. It was the responsibility of the woman to do such chores. He could not imagine himself in the kitchen cleaning dishes. Not when he had paid dowry for a woman to do that!
See, this couple was looking to put to waste 14 years just because they couldn’t explore ways to communicate and avoid the constant fights over small issues such as cleaning dishes. And in doing so, they had not thought of a dishwasher as a solution. We advised them and the issue was resolved
They are still happily married today.
In our Kenyan marriage, what we urgently need is to find ways to grow and mature. The answer on how we can grow and mature-perhaps, is to be found in words of Friedrick Nietzsche:
“It’s not simply a question of having the courage of one’s convictions, but at times having the courage to attack one’s convictions.”
If you are in Jubilee, have you tried to oppose what Jubilee stands for? Call it critique. If you are in NASA, have you tried to pause and question what it is NASA stands for? If you are a Kikuyu have you opposed Uthamakism and if you are Luo have you opposed Odingaism. After all, in words of Nelson Mandela, we create demigods if we don’t criticize people!
Above all as a country, we must start talking with each other. We must have dialogue even with those we hate. That is the only way we shall build an amazing country that those who will come after us will be proud of.