FOR THE LOVE OF COUNTRY: THE MEASURE OF BEING KENYAN

23/07/2020
BY :JUMA HEMEDI

In 2004 One of my colleagues, in the program I was working in asked me whether We would like to join them for a movie. I was in Oslo, Norway and the Norwegians have a funny way of inviting you, especially when they really want you to be there. She told us that the new movie would premier in Oslo and that we had to book in advance.

The movie titled Troy, revolved around the story of ancient Greece and the epic battle between ancient kingdoms of Sparta and Troy. While paying a visit to the Spartan King, Menelaus, the Prince from Troy, Prince Paris, falls for Hellen, the wife of King Menelaus and takes her back to Troy.

King Agamenmon, brother to King Menelaus uses this as an excuse to declare war against Troy, the last kingdom preventing his control over Aegean sea.

In the past few years and lately in the last few months, we have heard leaders all across the country, tell us that so and so is not good for the country or for the county, and that they do not have Wanjiku or Kenya at heart. And that so and so comes from a family of colonial collaborators or people who cannot be entrusted.

As many of you students of history will remember, there are many places and moments in Kenya where our destiny has been decided and shaped. Many of these places and moments were sights of war, demonstrations and riots, while others are sights that symbolises the daring characters of Kenyan people. Places like Kamukunji Stadium, Uhuru Park, Karura Forest, and the Mt. Kenya forest.

Other places are symbols of defiance, peace, debates and reasons. Places like Ufungamano house, Bomas of Kenya, Jeevanjee Gardens, the Lancaster House, University of Nairobi, Parliament and Nairobi Serena Hotel.

The land of Kenya in the last 100 years or so has seen a lot of things, the indignity of colonisation and tribal wars, the tyranny of oppressive regimes and the push for the boundaries of freedoms and democracy, The yoke of political intolerance and the death of many Kenyans in the ensuing violence and the determination of Kenyans.

For the love of country and future generations, our forefathers determined to get rid of Colonisation left their families, went into the forest and waged a war against the colonial oppressors.

The Love for Country is not a preserve of a few. No one can claim to be more Kenyan than the other. Neither can anyone claim to love this country more than the other. Loving this country cannot be monopolised.

The destiny and pride of this country has been shaped by ordinary men and women who were not of high status or esteem and not from one tribe or religion. These men and women had faith in God, Love for their Country and Hope for the future Generations. They had no big physique, armies or elected offices, but they led a Nation.

Loving this Country requires the occasional disruption the willingness to speak up and being self critical. It requires shaking the status quo. Loving this country requires the realisation that we do not hold the monopoly of knowing how others should love it. Or to compel others to love it the way we do. Loving this country requires more than just wearing a T-shirt written "I love Kenya".

The Kenyan spirit, dreams and hope that led the MauMau to pick up farm tools and weapons to fight the Colonial regime, is the same spirit that led the likes of James Orengo, Paul Muite, Reverend Timothy Njoya, Jaramogi Odinga, and Kenneth Matiba to pick up the microphone, brave the teargas and batons, and fight the one party rule in Kenya to push the boundaries of freedom.

It's the same spirit that led Wangari Maathai to stand up against the grabbers of Karura forest and Uhuru park. It's the same spirit that led Davinder Lamber, Prof Kibutha Kibwana, Kephta Ombati among others to push for Electoral reforms and the change of constitution.

The Kenyan spirit the MauMau had, Is the same spirit that resides in Catherine Ndereba, Paul Tergat, John Ngugi, Abbas Magongo, Henry Mutego and the Danson brothers. It is the Same spirit that resides in Mama Kayai, and Inspekta Mwala.

This is the same spirit that led Kenyans to migrate across the borders and the seas to 'dare abroad' . From the Arab deserts to the Rocky mountains of Afghanistan. From the fields Laikipia all the way to the Russian snow and the Mogadishu weather.

Kenya is not some fragile glass that would break if all of us were allowed to love it equally. We are the Country of the Mpesa innovation that has defined financial access even to the first world countries such as Sweden. We are the country of Wangari Maathai the Nobel peace prize winner and Eliud Kipchoge who proved No human is limited.

We are the land of Kimani Maruge who despite his age of 80 years answered to the call of education in the introduction of Universal access to primary Education. We are the land of Simon Gicharu who defied the odds to create the biggest private University in Kenya and arguably East Africa.

We are the land of Peter Tabichi, The Global Teacher Prize winner who has been giving away 80 percent of his Salary to educate the poor.

We are the land of Donatus Njoroge, the Global innovation award winner who developed a way to manage post harvest losses in grains. We are Kenyans, that's who we are.

If we are to measure up to the dreams of our fore fathers and the hope for the  future generations, then we are called upon to posses a sense of moral imagination. We are called upon to understand that none of us can claim the right to love this country more than the others and none of us can stop the other from loving this country.

We must stop this behaviour of thinking that some of us are more Kenyan than the others. It will not help address our challenges in education and access to justice. It will not help address the climate change, environmental challenges or food security. It will not help us develop the economy of the Kenyan people.

We must refuse the temptation to use every opportunity to look for an excuse to fight each other.

Juma Hemedi

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