Letter to a friend

This is my first post this year. What happened after the General Election left me thoroughly disillusioned. How could we descend to such barbarity. Is politics really that important that I have to kill my neighbour? Are our political leader’s worth dying for? Do we have to hate so much? I tried asking myself these and more questions, and everytime I drew a blank.
Today, my e-mail inbox popped and a childhood friend (who by accident of birth is a Luo) wrote telling me how this fighting is ovyo (full of rubbish). He reminded me that in Nakuru (Rongai), where we were born, we co-existed with so many tribes that some of us are multi-lingual. My friend is called Chege, but his real name is Ouma. He got his name after that famous footballer Ouma Chege. The subject of his message was Amani (Peace).
As I write this my family back at home lives in constant fear of being attacked.
I thought I might share my reply to him, with you. In a way, it captures what has been going through my mind:
“We need peace my brother. This tribal hate thing does not help one single minute. You and I were brought in a society where you only spoke your mother tongue in the house. Out there Kiswahili was the lingua franca. Even today I consider Kiswahili to be my first language, because I think in Kiswahili. I never knew tribe, I only saw friends. Many were the days I came to your place, and even though I did not understand much of Luo, I felt quite comfortable and safe. I really looked forward to having a meal at your place. You on the other hand knew so much Kikuyu, that you could tell when one was being rude to an elder. All that didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were friends.
“Remember the days we used to sit outside Kaguchia’s bathroom, watching the sun set on Kandutura Hills (sadly that is where they started burning houses in Rongai), telling stories and laughing at our silly mchongoano (kutoana magear). Remember how I would go to our house and find you gone, and had to find you at your place.
When we were growing up, it did not matter what tribe one came from, what mattered was who would beat the other in our games, or who would play football better. With our dogs, we went hunting together, swam together, stole fruits at Nyamu’s together, and chased girls together. We engaged in mischief together, and our parents, it did not matter whose child it was, punished us together.
Why can’t Kenya go back to those old days? It is said that people wise up as they grow older, does it mean that as Kenyans we’ve grown foolish as as the years go?”
Peace my dear readers

2 replies on “Letter to a friend”

My Friend (Chege’s as well)

Having lived 30 years in Kericho and being one of the currently ‘unsuitable’ communities and targetted for in-human treatment at the moment is a sum total of the kind of situation we are witnessing.

I think I can equate this to an infestation with ‘demons’ so bad that people dont stop to hear their hearts beat. We have lived beyond this before, but (Sadly so) we are going through a baptism by fire – politicaly instigated- (like in purification of Gold). The final product we hope will be even longer lived brotherhood and peace premised on a sovereign state.

Regards and peacefull resolution of the underlying issues.

Hallo Moodiye,
Good to read your piece. Must confess too that growing
up was fun and very insightful. We grew up playing bano,
rounders, seven stones, tapoo and safo. Childhood
games that really new no tribe, politics or ethnic
The playground was one happy place that accommodated
all the children form the neighborhood. I sincerely miss
those childhood days. But, again, we did have parents
who instilled in us tribal phobias of neighborhood
children who didn’t belong to our tribe. Alas! That’s what’s
happening today!
Parents, consumed in their tribal persuasions have turned
to be the worse of societal enemies that their children will
ever know. What today’s Kenyan children are hearing (and being told) right in their homes from their parents, regarding ethnical animosity, is to say the least, distasteful!
Let parents preach peace and harmony right in their homes
and half of the tribal hatred will be sorted out.
Otherwise, it should not surprise us seeing our communities turning against each other with machetes,
pangas, bows and arrows in the name of ethnic cleansing.
May God bless us and bless Kenya.
Eric Gichira

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