I know you clicked on this link thinking this will be a political piece but sorry to disappoint you, I am not very good at politics, I prefer to read other peoples opinions on the same, they always seem more informed than I am. Oops!
The genesis of this piece, in my latest journey of setting my pace, we had an interesting conversation today with my classmate.
To set the foundation for this piece let me start with a few random thoughts:
I was well informed when I came here that for most people I will meet, I might just be the only Kenyan they have met and /or will ever meet in their lifetime. That being said, I need to retain with every meet a love mark. Don’t you just love Wikipedia ?
I am doing a language course for six months , save for the fact that I have already studied the same said language for 11 years and counting but all the same my point is, in-order to effectively learn a language you have to :
- Learn the language in all its form that is both spoken and written word
- You have to bequeath the knowledge gathered
- In-order to fully comprehend the language that is ,you would have to live in the said land that speaks said language for more than a year to actually get it.
- Lastly, learning a language is more so the people, tradition and culture.
Growing up , my sister and I were shipped off every single holiday without fail for about 12 years of our lives upcountry for a full month stay. I hadn’t up until recently realized why my parents did this. During this time , we would play among st my cousins and regardless of whether we came from the city or not , we did chores as everyone else, went downstream to fetch water in 5 liter jerrycans hehe and carried same water uphill severally , picked tea and coffee , assisted in tilling the vast land and herded cattle. The upside was we got to swim in the river , skid and slide on the hills, climb trees and pick fruit and literally eat raw sweet potatoes mainly out of hunger as perhaps someone woke up late and delayed in setting up the `nyungu` for `githeri` and so it was that by lunchtime the food was not ready. Lord knows how many times I complained but in totality that pretty much sums up my school holidays.
Among st the benefits of this, though questionable in some form, I got to learn my mother tongue. I currently speak a foreign language way better than I do my mother tongue but in comparison, I think I fare pretty well. That aside, I think the most important part of this whole chapter was I got to learn who my parents were, better yet I got to learn just how important our culture was and better still I got to know who my grandparents were. A lot of the values they held near and dear I still carry with me to date . I never really get what the Nairobi mad rush for arrow roots and sweet potatoes is , we grew up feeding on this. Trust me I am a city girl and by all means behave as one , though I do have a shady side but find me in shaggz ( upcountry as we call it) we dig right in with the rest be it cooking or whatever else. That was how I was raised.
I am now in pieces because I have failed to this regard, my niece turns 9 this year and we ( my sister and I ) have denied baby girl the chance to learn who her grandparents are , we have denied her the chance to proudly say she is Kenyan-Kikuyu , we have denied her a whole world she may never know exists simply because we shielded her. Sure, during our numerous trips upcountry we picked up a few lice and illnesses but we got the best of what life had to offer and that was a chance. A chance to define who we are not only as people but based on our roots, our heritage and our culture. My heart aches as Shiko might never be able to catch up but Lord for the eyeopener I now have; I must and will try!
I fear for the coming generation as they too may not get this chance. Given we multiply very quickly what will become of the city brats? Will they ever be able to cope with their counterparts from upcountry? Will they ever understand each other?
Every time I visit my dad back home , I always look at that small town and in my point of view, nothing noteworthy has changed because every single person who managed to make a name for themselves or get a certificate, moved away and came to the big city. The same matatus that we preciously call `face me darling` that plied that route in 1986 still exist to date, the same shops that I saw growing up are still there, the village idiot died and was soon replaced with another but the cycle remains the same. Off-course given its our people , we have built huge houses but what´s the use of a house you cant access when it rains?
Flip side of the coin ,out all the evil in this world there must always be good in equal measure. On my last visit , we passed by a place that was formally a coffee plantation but given the wanting returns on coffee nowadays, a young man decided that place needed a face lift and he pulled down the coffee bushes and instead built a recreational facility . The first of its kind ever in the entire homestretch . From what I saw , the guy is doing quite well for himself given the place is one of its own kind and it is always packed to the brim. In as much as I don’t agree with him taking down the coffee bushes, we need to develop that place I so dearly call home and if everyone could push a little harder and try to innovatively think more or less as this guy did , we would have a uni city for ourselves and it is possible.
In as much as a lot of the traditions we had are in essence not applicable in today’s world , there is still a lot more we can learn and borrow from the old and outdated. Its worth it , I know. So to parents and future parents, watch this very special clip below from Kenya commercial bank which was featured for mothers day and truly ask yourself what would your children say about you? Please note the solution is not a days visit …. there is a lot to be debated but I live it there for now.
I fear for our future generations, I fear for our ethnicity and our unique identities. If this piece resonates with you my urgent plea ,DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
My name is Nyambura and I am a Kenyan! Ask me? I can tell you about my people, where I am from and who I am !