I bet somewhere they have coined a riddle to this effect by now. If they haven't then here it is, 'What is lazy, illiterate and ignorant?!' Heheheh!
First, i am tribal! Yes, I am indeed tribal. And i feel that as a Kenyan, i need not explain myself, because you get me, right? Yes, i know you do.
Secondly, i never like being on the losing side. No, i like winning. It is like an addiction that drives me so insane that one way or another i have to go back and take that one last sniff. Only that i definitely know that it will not be the last, just like any addiction.
So you can imagine my deeply entrenched agony then to belong to the nine tribes of the Kenyan Coast!
One way or another, in the course of my almost adult and adult life, i have always found myself defending the reputation, actions and mindset of my people. I have found myself coming up with explanations, rationalities and even excuses for what we do, what we say and how we behave.
In most gatherings, it is always a surprise to people that a Mijikenda is part of them. It is even more insulting if i have to explain who the Mijikendas are and where they come from. I have had to deal with stereotypes left, right and center not only because i am a woman but worse because i am a child of the Kaya!
For a while i thought the problem was with the other people, i mean, we are a richly cultured community that is fairly blessed with resources at our disposal. We are a people who are balanced, grounded and at peace with ourselves, our gods and our environments. We make do with what we have, laugh easily, forgive fast and share with open hearts.We live for today, embrace family and know how to kick a party and dance to the music of life. We are a beautiful people. Which are all good things, right? I mean, how could people not see and appreciate this?
So i perfected the excuses and built theories to explain my community to these people. These people whom i thought were just oh so ignorant that it pained me.
Only that as i worked with the Mijikenda community these past three years, i realized that i was repeating these same theories more and more, and i was telling them to the Mijikendas themselves!
Why, you ask?! Well, i guess i was just convincing myself that it is ok to be who i am. That it is ok to be at peace and content with myself, (like i was brought up to know,) even if that person is said to be a lazy and illiterate loud mouth!
But i am not ok. I am tired of putting up this face and pretending like everything is fine because it is not. I know so many Mijikendas who are learned and intelligent, but have nothing to show for it. I know so many proffessionals and retired experts who are back in the villages burning charcoal and drinking mnazi, while they could be sharing their expertise with the community. I know so many young people like me who just blend in the crowd and fit in while they could do something better and bigger. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with you, Mijikendas?
I am yet to tell you why we behave the way we do, i am still trying to understand it myself.
But for now, i think all i want to tell you my fellow Mijikendas is that it is not enough to be content, to be grounded and to be nice. It is high time we did more than ruffle the waters and make a lot of noise. We need to act! we need to stand up and be counted, not with the rest of the Country or the world, but among ourselves. We need to push each other, pull one another and demand only the best from ourselves. We need to change.
And to do this we need to be discontented, to be irked by what we know and reach for what we deserve. We need to demand this of ourselves before we demand it from others.We need to rebuild our identity before we ask to be recognized.
Then and only then, will i stand proud as a child of the Kaya!
Oh, and the answer is Mijikenda!