Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It’s All Over Now: Kubali Matokeo? No. Time to START Living, if #WeAreOne.

A lot has changed since the late hours of Saturday morning. Life has needlessly gone to waste. Our inept governance and disaster response reactions have once again come to the fore. Even worse, our inhuman opportunism in moments of human pain further sullied a bloody backdrop.

15 years ago today, we were heading towards 50 days from our first involuntary encounter with Al Qaeda. 212 were dead, and countless lives scarred by a disaster I was too young to fully comprehend. 

The only thought on my mind, on August 7th 1998, was my 11th birthday the following day. Would they cook chapatti at my grandma’s – where I was heading, seated in the passenger seat of a matatu, as news of the bomb blast broke on the dashboard dead ahead of me – or ugali?

4 months ago, Storymoja Africa asked me to imagine the world with them. Gladly, I did. Imagination is the stuff of dreams, you see, and boy do I love to dream. What I care for more than dreams, however, is to see these dreams come true. I wait patiently to make them be. 

What happened on Saturday, while I had imagined it before, is no dream. It is a nightmare, the easiest kind of reality that comes from imagination. It was, however, no surprise to me. 

Last month, days before the August 7 memorial, I happened to be at Memorial Park. The park sits at what would be our Ground Zero – the site of the ‘98 terror attack. Let us now recap what we learnt then, and how we have applied it since. I’ll save you the trouble with one statement:

A lot has not changed since the late hours of Saturday morning.

As I learnt while talking to someone at our Ground Zero cenotaph, only the direct victims of what is now a fatefully insignificant tragic statistic in Kenya’s history actually remember it. The park may be called a ‘memorial,’ but beyond it simply being a commemorative plaque of one dreadful event in Nairobi hiss stories, the monument is now a simple revenue collection bin. 

That some choose to piggy-back on the park to fill their piggy-banks is hardly new. It is also, sadly, no news. Your government is still inept. Your morality is still for sale to the highest bidder. Your public utilities are still inutile. Your health system still sucks. 

You still don’t know who you are; still can’t tell what you need from what you want. 

You will still sit on your arse and wait for the next tragedy – small or monumental, natural or otherwise. You will wait only for you to react; to say, to never think or act independently.

Stupid is as stupid does. Are you happy with your life today? Time is a blessing, that ticking clock has been sent to remind you that your life is valuable.
It is also futile; it has a beginning and it has an end.”
And so tomorrow you will wake up. It may take longer than 24 hours, but tomorrow you will wake up. You will shed your patriotism. You will lose your nationalism. You will lose your leased ideals and leeched morality. Latch on to your good old need to feed off your brother’s flesh.

Indeed you will accept, you will move on, your choices will have no consequences.

Already you wonder what these tens of lives lost, these disquieting tens of hours under siege have done to your money. What they have done to Kenya’s economy, and if we can recover. 

Already you replace past silent tragedies with this latest loud one. 

Already you are marveling at the picturesque pictorials of gore, talking about the effectiveness of their insensitivity. Already you are rising up to defend your respective tribal leader’s squirms or otherwise squeamish action during the skirmish. 

Already you are baying for blood. 

Accusing your Eastleigh brother, that Somali Arab-looking brother you don’t know, for the acts of terror inspired not by race or place, but by creed. Already you are talking of reactions to these terrifying actions of terror. You have killed – if understandably so – every last gunman in that mall. Make no mistake, dear KDF , for I applaud your patiently conclusive reaction. 

It was, after all, in self-defense. You were, after all, doing a job that should only be yours as a last resort.

A job you did in defense of inhabitants – temporary or permanent – of Westgate, who on the day became hostages and victims. It is by no fault of your own that every possible trail – it would seem – as to whom and the wherefores of the attack, runs cold. 

We are left in an all too familiar position now, however: that of shooting in the dark.

People died in 80 odd hours from Saturday morning. They died at a rate, perhaps, of 1 life per hour; a rate, more so, of countless hungry, overall. Countless wept, overall, but few of these weepers were conscious, sadly. 

Nigh fell. Many prayed. They did the natural thing when confronted by the unknown. They went for the unseen.

That is no critique, this atheist might add, for the unseen comforted me too. I went for my music. And while unlike any god this music could be heard, I had but my own interpretations of this music to go by. 

In this way I was similar to some religious folk; but not to those who rely on what is interpreted to them of what they believe to be their own script.

That kind is no different from the ilk that shot to death unconfirmed denizens in the dozens of dozens.

But already, dear hustler, you have returned to Kenya to help ‘calm the situation’ down… to "participate in security briefings." 

To consult. 

Because these attackers chose a time when you were not here to strike. Of course they did it in spite of you, not to spite you, dear hustler. Don’t come chasing waterfalls, while your colleagues sit chasing after doves in and outta parliament.

"We hope that some people will begin to contextualize what is going on and begin to appreciate the challenges that Kenya is going through, the region is going through, and the complications that are brought by what is going on here."
H.E. the VP of Kenya, W.S. Ruto, in "The Hustlers also Cry".

What does it matter? After all, opportunity – bloody or otherwise – is for the strongest to reap from. 

"In light of the circumstances and the views heard during the hearing, the Chamber excuses Mr Ruto from the proceedings.
For the moment the excusal is permitted for one week only, subject to any further requests that Defence counsel may make if need be to extend it,"  
Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji swallowed. Hook and line sunk.
This too shall pass. Not because we are a strong nation. Not because we are unscarred; because we are oblivious to our own bloodshed. At the least, this time around, we have a common enemy. Who that enemy will be, however, remains to be seen as the year closes down. 

I am worried. Not slighted, for that would imply – if only by similarity of sound – that it was slight. Worried, you see, sounds to me like war. It sounds like all out warfare unto the few in my town who think they know, while knowing not. To those who forget to feel, because – and get this – they have bills to pay. 

We all have bills to pay. We all need passion. Yet passion pays no bills. So ask yourself this:

If you don’t like what you are doing right now, if your [life and work don’t] wow you…then why are you still doing [that]?”
  • Seven Sentences
To paraphrase one of my favorite quotidian reads, quoted and attributed extensively through this post, is it simply because family responsibilities? Or is it because financial security? Perhaps it’s because some other lying, cheating, stealing reason?

A good dream won’t make you poor, if you think it through, if you plan it well…”
  • Seven Sentences
So if you’re doing what you don’t mean to be, then every time you are asked why you’re still at it, forget every other excuse, and give this reason:

I cannot think my dream through. I cannot plan it well enough to follow it through…
Only say you care about the world if you care enough to suffer through doing something to impact it. Regardless of what happens to you through it all.

The Riskiest Thing You Can Do Right Now Is To Simply Keep Doing The Same Old Thing.

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