Heritage of splendour
By NJONJO MUE
Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendor
Firm may we stand to defend
2nd Stanza of the National Anthem.
We are living through dark and difficult days in Kenya at the start of the ninth year of the first decade of the twenty first century. Society has simply stopped making sense. We are unable to feed ourselves, to keep watch over the public purse, to pay our teachers, to protect our children, to resettle the displaced, and to apprehend and punish criminals, including those who bear the title “honourable.” The tragic fire that recently engulfed a leading supermarket in downtown Nairobi is a sad reminder of the flames that are engulfing us on every side, flames we are apparently unable summon up the courage or the will to put out.
We are frustrated and we are angry. Angry at those who have made it their stock in trade to gamble with our very lives; angry at institutions which only seem to work for the rich and trample upon the poor; angry at our own apparent helplessness to take charge of our destiny. We are also guilty. Guilty because the selfsame individuals and cartels are where they are because we helped put them there. Guilty because we voted for them, we sang for them, we praised them and carried them on our shoulders; we even fought and killed each other for them.
Yet one year down the road, many of the once excited masses are on the verge of utter despair. The daily newspaper headlines tell a sad tale of a country adrift coasting along on auto-pilot with no one particularly in charge. The walls surrounding our nationhood seem to have collapsed. Now it is a free for all as people who call themselves leaders help themselves to our scarce resources as they build up their bribing arsenal for the next round of this debilitating duel scheduled for 2012.
Many citizens have already resigned themselves to the fact that blood will again be shed as the titans battle it out again in four year’s time. Others are simply too exhausted to engage. They simply throw their hands in the air in surrender to the politicians whom we have allowed to move to the centre-stage of national affairs with their dizzying intrigues. Many still are in awe of the waheshimiwa’s and treat them with pretended reverence hoping to have a morsel of the stolen bread tossed their way. Most are just too busy trying to put food on the table to get distracted by the daily shenanigans of politics.
One suspects that the various crises unfolding in this country almost on a daily basis are orchestrated from certain quarters. This with a view to overwhelming the people with the sheer magnitude of the challenges that face us. We are too busy putting out the fires to stop and think and plan ahead. The idea seems to keep the citizenry too preoccupied to notice that 2012 is fast approaching, and then do what politicians do best – mobilize along ethnic lines and whip “their communities” into meaningless coalitions for the sole purpose of making a grab at power.
Writer Milan Kundera poignantly reminds us that the struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. And so for the sake of our national survival we must remember. We must remember all the injustices visited upon us by the oligarchy that has arrogated upon itself the divine power to misrule. We must remember the oppression and repression, the pillage and the plunder, the murder and the torture of the governed by the governors. We must also remember that those who conspired to steal the garment that covered our country’s nakedness are the same ones who will come in four year’s time calling us out to line up behind them and give them the mandate to once more loot, kill and maim by their acts of commission and omission.
But we dare not stop at remembering. We must act and act decisively. We must draw a line in the sand and tell the oligarchy “thus far and no further!” We must recall once again the ringing challenge of our national anthem which bids us to stand firm and defend “our homeland of Kenya, heritage of splendor.” Time has come to defend this homeland and this heritage from all enemies – foreign and domestic – including the domestic ones who drive around in big cars, some even having the temerity to fly our national flag while all they do is plan the next heist on our national resources.
If our so called government can sit tight and watch what has happened in this country over the last few months take place and not act decisively and convincingly to rid itself of those in its midst who are responsible for the starvation, the murder and the mayhem, it is not only our right, but our bounden sovereign duty to overthrow it and replace it with one that shall be accountable to the people – not to tribal blocks or to this or that or the other party or coalition.
Now is the time that the Kenyan people have to call upon the courage of a different age and the spirit of a previous generation which dared to take up homemade guns in a blatantly unequal contest to take their country back. Only this time, where others chose violence, we shall engage with our intellect; where others killed to make their point, we shall heal to make ours. But we should not kid ourselves. No matter how peaceful the means we choose, there shall be a cost, for power concedes nothing.
If we keep silent at such a time as this, God will raise another generation that is able and willing to take on our demons and lead our country to the Promised Land while we ourselves perish in the wilderness of our despair. But if we recognize that our very freedom is at stake and proclaim from the rooftops that no one shall take us hostage ever again, God shall raise a standard and He shall lead us on to victory. On which side will you stand?
3rd February 2009