Tuesday, February 21, 2012

KenyaFeb28: THE BEGINNING? by Brian O. Koyoo and Yule

From Brian O. Koyoo, aka  purveyor of the other crazy blog

We are a product of our history. As Kenyans though, we are plagued by bouts of selective amnesia that make it impossible to trace historical roots. The vast majority of Kenyans are afflicted by the ability to settle for mediocrity. The middle class is content to sit back and try not to rock the boat while the rich make the rules and the poor suffer under their brutality. We live average lives, in average neighbourhoods and drive average cars so we can sit at the end of the day and comment about what is happening around us without thought of doing something about it.

State of the Kenyan Political status quo (1963 - Now)

Think about it. On one end of all those demonstrations are chauffeur driven gits in sound proof cars. On the other are guys who will have to trek to either Kibera or Mathare. In the middle? Tear gas, police batons and rubber bullets. This sense of amnesia is what gives us the same class of ‘representatives’ after every election cycle. We are a reactive rather than proactive country, hence we lack a national ideology.

Such is the case that after people our age started fighting for democracy in North Africa, whispers about the same thing started in Kenya. One such initiative is KenyaFeb28. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the plan is that on Monday the 28th of February, from all corners of the country, Kenya is going to explode into patriotic TPF at 1pm with a rendition of the national anthem. While I applaud the organizers for this noble and novel idea, I have some issues with the purpose and effectiveness. Why? I’ll explain. But first, some facts.

The Facebook generation generally falls within the late teen to early thirties age group. This means that even our parents barely remember the independence struggle. After a whole generation of Moi running the affairs of the country, we have settled into a rut with the mindset that things could be worse. As long as blood is not being shed on the streets (till the next elections at least) then we are content with the status quo.

Wanjiku is shackled by her own mindset's poverty

History for this generation is a confusing set of ideas imparted during coma-inducing lessons in school. It is reduced to nothing more than vague words on yellowing pages forced on us by teachers. To this day, I must admit my ignorance at not knowing anything else about Pio Gama Pinto other than he was assassinated and shares a name with my dad. Pity is I can recite obscure facts about American presidents that add no value to my Kenyan heritage. This generation is left to sift through the husks of fact and fiction from historians. As presented by outsiders, the African is a fallible individual full of shortcomings while their indigenous counterparts paint fanatical images with memory gaps of our ‘freedom fighters’.

Cynicism is already a mainstay of this group of people. We were around to see the liberation brought on by KANU’s downfall in 2002 and last year’s passage of the new constitution. But just as quickly we saw this optimism shattered by partisan issues. Every national thought has since then become a matter of what language your parents speak. But we are better. Aren’t we? Only on the surface. The fact that we speak in clipped accents with the benefit of education to back our arguments doesn’t mean we don’t harbor those ethnic thoughts. I see it in my writing every once in a while. A slip here. An expression there.

If I seem to digress then let me get back to KenyaFeb 28th. Being Kenyan, I guess my first instinct is to criticize but I will resist that urge and critique. This is the moment in the movie when the underdog takes out the bad guy with inspirational music playing in the background. Think Sly Stallone’s Rocky with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ being belted out. But who is the bad guy in this tale? Unless we figure out that it is us then the February 28th might as well be about us entertaining birds. A common location is the first step. Picture thousands of Kenyan youth standing together at Uhuru Park singing despite their differences. All in all, I stand in unity with you brothers and sisters. Hopefully you won’t look outside, see me singing and walk on into your average lives. Only then can we figure out what step is next.


The Way Forward by Yule Mbois Mndialala

People have sat, scratched, and asked 'what next?'. Apparently this is some sorta deriding criticism to KenyaFeb28. The answer 'It's up to you' does not seem to hold water in many a view. The fact that this initiative has been a massive effort, and dare I say time-consuming to its organizers - people with day jobs and lives transcendental to KenyaFeb28, I would presume - has been lost in our ever so beguiling knack to want all the answers given to us on a silver platter; one hefty detriment of the reading-to-pass curriculum we grind through 16 years of; or at least some %age of it anyway, ranging anywhere from 0 to 100. Anything beyond 8-4-4, and you can arguably exclude yourself from the bracket of Kenyans who want all the answers provided, to that of Kenyans who think they have all the answers. 

Seeing as I consider myself in the limbo zone between the two, I kinda understand the clamour for a 'Vision and Mission statement', complete with interchangeable definitions for goals and objectives copy-pasted from Built to Last by Collins & Porras, supplemented with strategy and value plagiarized Campo style off Strategy Maps by Kaplan & Norton, and finally fortified with the immortal words of Donald J. Trump & Robert Kiyosaki in Why We Want You To Be Rich. What I do not understand, however, is whether the organizers tell Kenyans that it's up to them because they frankly believe that telling Kenyans where to go will not help (how many of you have read the Kenya Vision 2030? Who's to say you'd read the KenyaVisionFeb28 either?) or they simply haven't had the time to come up with a vision (they have bills to pay, lives to live and places to be).

I am always of the opinion that communication works best if it is exchanged. And since there will be forums organized to coincide with the timeframe for KenyaFeb28, (such as the Kenyan Actors for Change forum at the Kenya National Theatre, 12.30pm to around 1.30pm) I choose to attend these and be a part of 'what next?' I choose not to expect others to take initiative for me, chart out a course and send me the map on social media and the blogosphere, let alone hear it on the News. I choose not to cloud my judgment, but to instead open up to the possibility that perhaps a revolution by intellectual Kenyans can be ignited by calm waters and not a sparky flame. 

I choose to believe that if Zuckerberg's sneeze was enough to start a revolution, the Kenyan Youth can indeed start a blazing fire of thought and initiative, with collectedly calm endeavours to lead their future of Kenya by leading their present. So to all the sceptics, I pass the baton over to you. Will you cower in the retrogressive back seats and question a progressive if beleaguered idea, one with such potential for more, or as tweeted last night by yours truly, will you heed the call?

But just to satisfy some, how about you go with a 48-yr old's words? After all, the older are said to be wiser, and this 48-yr old is actually older than that, having inherited at birth true wisdom, not only genetically coded but fully developed. Springing from Pokomo Country, weighing a bilingual three verses and trained by Messieurs Graham Hyslop, W. Senoga-Zake,  Thomas Kalume, Peter Kibukosya and Washington Omondi...I give you:

Your very own National Anthem  

Notable Quotes from within it:
(Natukae na undugu)
May we dwell in unity
(Amani na uhuru)
Peace and liberty
(Raha tupate na ustawi)
Plenty be found within our borders

Clearly Unity is implied for there to be plenty within Kenya.  Plenty of food. Plenty schooling. Plenty of housing. Plenty economy. Plenty of jobs. Plenty common sense. And we can start the process today. 

Other notable quotes:

“I don’t come to bow, I come to conquer.” 
-Bob Marley

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” 
-Bob Marley

“Welcome aboard flight KF28. Fasten your seat-belts as we fly you to Unity City✈✈✈This is a 1 way ticket, no fl8back. #KenyaFeb28” If only it were this easy...
-by @French_Freddy on Twitter last night

Click here for the previous #KenyaFeb28 post


  1. Caught a sneak of the article while in class, haven't read it to it's enterity but I will tell you this - I don't think as Kenyans we are mature enough for a revolution of Tunisia's or Egypt's scale - peaceful, united and actually successful. (For one, as much as I am touched by the patriotic gesture of everyone in the country - who has access to at least Facebook and cares enough - singing the national anthem in solidarity with, hopefully, thousands of his/her compatriots, I keep asking myself what means this serves and what exactly we expect to achieve with this.)

    Should GSU appear and should tensions flare as a result, what would happen in Nakuru? Kisumu? Parts of Rift Valley? And eventually Central Kenya? Would we see a recap of Dec 27 2007? Would our politicians find a way to twist this, and effectively at that, into a civil war? The kind that they would like to insure their asses from retribution by the ICC and its Rome Statute?

    I don't know- the idea of a revolution in Kenya scares me, we are too young (politically speaking). Revolutions require maturity to see past some lines which we have drawn.

    I stop here, since I haven't finished reading the piece, I could be repeating things you already said.

  2. Valid arguments you put forth here Ketchup. I'll allow you to read further before I engage your argument, but just for the record - as you will see on the link provided to my previous post - my argument is that we should all do our bit, add it up to another's bit, and not think of this as a revolution, so to speak, that will replace our regime in a fortnight or two.


Your comments are highly appreciated.