By Kinaga Mbugua
Earlier this morning on my way to work, something caught my eye. Right across the street from where I was, stood four happy men. While everyone else around them was caught up in the exigence of rushing to work, these four gentlemen stood unperturbed; unmoved by the impetuses around them. They didn’t seem in a hurry to leave the company of each other. They were savoring every minute of it.
I couldn’t exactly tell who was speaking, because all of them were laughing. However, they seemed to focus on one of them. The guy on the left. Probably he was the owner of the joke, which seemed to have swept them off their feet. I didn’t know then, just like I still don’t know now, what it was that struck their cords. So I decided to move up closer. I wasn’t worried about getting to work late. After all, I was two and a half hours early. I could surely use afew minutes of this time, I thought to myself. And with that, I turned onto Kenyatta avenue and walked up towards these four gentlemen.
Halfway, I stopped.
I stopped to watch them. I felt a wave of peace and joy, a surge of hope and optimism. These guys were, by all means, happy. Happy and content with life probably, or with the company of each other. Whatever it was, they looked happy to me. And that’s all that mattered as I stood across the street gazing at them.
So I decided to take a picture of them. A photo I vowed to share with Kenyans who probably haven’t seen this particular photo of these four happy and content men anywhere around the walls.
We all know these four happy men. We’ve seen them grace our TVs right from primary school, until now. Some of our parents grew up with them. Maybe some of us did too.
I choose to use this photo because I’m sure these faces may not depart from our screens, billboards or our lives yet. We’ll continue to see, hear, cheer, pray or even fight for these four happy and content men. In the past, thousands of us have died, just so afew happy and content men may remain, as usual, content. We always claim to have learnt the lessons. But did we really learn? Do we even remember what happened, who died, how many were raped, maimed, or displaced? Do we even stop to remember why it all happened?
You see, history is both a good and bad teacher. It just depends on what classes you attend, and the ones you miss. And we have our history as a people. Unfortunately, a big part of it remains unspoken, fallow and idle. We either choose to overlook it, or miss the history classes that were meant to teach us the lessons. Our past is littered with instances when we fought, not for, but each other. Instead of fighting poverty and inequality, we fought the poor and unequal. We drove the war away from the perpetrators, and focused MORE on the recipients. Today, life and child mortality rates are widely disproportionate across our boundaries. But we call it demographics. Corruption is rife in government. But we call it political witch hunt by those ‘outside the kitchen’. Schools are increasingly losing their land (read Langata Primary school), but we call it political perfidy within the ruling duet. And when sugar farmers cry over their continued manipulation, we call it western politics.
Two years after 2013, we are back to where it all began. We’ve taken our usual places in our various ethnic courts. We constantly refuse to see reason when its ‘one of our men’ behind the public or court jury. We close our eyes when these four, and many other happy and content men out there, depart from the continuum of justice, peace, and the rule of law. We block our ears when those from beyond our terrestrial boundaries speak against one of ‘our own’. Instead, we choose to either fight for, or die with them. Or atleast, die trying.
But there’s always going to be a difference between ‘us’ and them. They get to make the choices while we act without perspective. In the end, they are the happiest and most content of them all. And we remain where we first were. At that ugly and disgusting drawing table. Planning our next move, or asking them where else they need our help.
Its time we remembered not to forget that while our happiness as a Kenyan people may be defined by the nature of our politics, our choices for this polity will define our next course of history. The history we are slowly carving out today.
Kenyans must choose to be this happy. We must embark on a self-search for happiness, not just with ourselves and who we are, but with those with whom we live.
Let’s all be happy and content with each other. Let’s tolerate, love, respect and look out for each other beyond our second names or our native places of birth. Let’s be genuinely interested in each other.
Just like these four happy and content men.
The writer comments on socio-economial and political issues