Monday, January 28

If I Wallow, Let Me Wallow

I had a meltdown of sorts on Sunday. The friend who received my frantic, gibberish, melodramatic text message that sent her into her own spiral of panic will attest to this.

All these days, even as the situation has deteriorated, I confess that I have clung, against all odds, to the notion of a better Kenya, a Kenya where this cannot happen. A Kenya where it is enough that I am a Kenyan: a Kenya where my ethnicity is about where I come from, not who I am; a Kenya which had its fair share of problems, but which, despite these, was making progress.

Now, it is fast becoming clear that that Kenya is a figment of my overly optimistic imagination.

Now, doom and gloom predominate. I’m done betting my bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun. Clearly, I’m the deluded middle class, who used to live in a bubble. Somebody just stuck a pin in that bubble.

I just had a visit from a friend who used to live in Kapsabet, a student at Baraton. Attackers came to her home but her neighbours hid her. She lost everything. Because of the generosity of the neighbours who hid her when the assailants came calling, her life and her children’s lives were spared.

In Naivasha, a mob set alight yet another house with nineteen people, most of them women and children.

A friend tells me that her family in Nakuru has sent the women away to (relative) safety and the men have remained to fight. Because what else are they going to do? They have to protect what is theirs. Her father could be my father. Her brother could be my brother. I try to imagine them wielding pangas, defending their lives and their livelihoods. My heart grows faint, my knees buckle.

Another friend sent me a message the other day. The stories about Kenya in the international press made him very nervous. He said he was very afraid for me. He offered me the price of a ticket, said I should go stay with him and his family until the madness ends.

I said “no thanks.” I said I wanted to stay, to see if there was anything I could do, any part I could play in bringing us back from the brink. Surely there must be something I could do.

I’ve been to the meetings. Good ideas and solid plans. We’ve come up with the documents. We’ve passed them along. But Kenya is still burning.

Now, I don’t feel so courageous and patriotic any more.

Now, I watch myself walking around in a daze. I’m doing the routine things: getting up in the morning, going to work, going home in the evening, lying in my bed at night, getting up in the morning, going to work.

Now, I want to pack all my beloved in a box and ship them out of this country. I know they won’t stand for it, of course.

Yesterday, for the first time, I've thought seriously about running away, getting out of here while my visa is still valid. Just in case my family needs a place to run away to, someday. On the heel of that thought came the tears.

When I travel and meet people who want to know a little about Kenya, I insist that they must come visit, and see it for themselves. The world is littered with people I’ve harassed to visit Kenya. Because everybody knows that you haven’t seen God smile, if you haven’t been to Kenya. I tell these people not to worry, accommodation is on me, I have room enough in my house to fit an entire family. So, please come. Seriously, come.

Now, these very people are offering me refuge from this place I boast about.

Because suddenly, God is not smiling.

Remember Mary Doria Russell’s book The Sparrow which I blogged about sometime ago? Well, in her version of the future, somewhere in the middle of the 21st century, Kenyans are being accommodated at refugee camps in Sudan. I still remember reading that and filing it away in the “Yeah Right” folder. As if such a thing could happen, I chuckled to myself, under my breath.

Today, yet another friend wrote for a faraway place and asked whether I was fine, what with all the horrible news coming out of Kenya. I replied saying,

“I am physically fine, but I’m nursing a wounded spirit.”

Likely tomorrow I’ll be back to my old self again: believing in and rooting for Kenya with all that I am and have.

But today, if I wallow, let me wallow.

13 comments:

webjinx said...

been trying to avoid the news..but the fear of not knowing what's coming keeps me going back.

The news leaves me depressed..

Anonymous said...

In church we are doing a series on the book of Job and your post reads abit like a Job3..life in the middle is hard.In the beginning of things falling apart we can find ourselves responding rightly, but when it just goes on and on and on things change.

I have found that the difficulty with this situation is not just that it is hard to live with, the difficulty includes how God,to whom I am accountable to 1st and foremost, calls me to respond. That when life squeezes me to the max, I give out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness humility and self-control. That i should speak with Grace and act in love even when the situation lacks grace and those nearest and dearest are not being treated in love.

Because of this I have found myself taken beyond the boundaries of my normal stregnth, Beyond the range of my natural and acquired wisdom. Beyond the limits of my ability to love, serve and forgive. beyond me! The borders of my faith have been beaten, I have felt exhausted. I have been left dissapointed and discouraged. When one place seems to cool down, another place flares up. I saw an old lady crying on telly and it felt so wrong.The present situatio requires what I do not seem to have..

But that is exactly how God intended it!

When I give up on myself,on our leaders etc, I can begin to rely on Him.I have began to find my Hope in the right unshakeable places.

I am getting excited about His plan, now that I have abandoned my own little dream. It will take a long time, but it will come

Now that things have blown up in my face again, I am ready to see the wisdom of God's way...
Wangari

Anonymous said...

You know R, you speak for me...I too I'm one of those snotty you've-never- been-anywhere-if-you've-never-been-to-Kenya folks....you know me recycler of my "najivunia kuwa Mkenya" t-shirt just so everyone can know... and me the unofficial KTB consultant...the cashier at my local grocery calls me the Jomo Kenyatta gal (you see she's so well-read!). Lately though I'm burying my face in utter shame and utter fear. All my neighbours now know Kenya,through no effort of mine, they have become Kenyan political specialists too, all in 3 weeks...quite some achievement that!! I'm avoiding that cashier's till now because all she says is "Have you heard the news...?" My t-shirt, I've put it away till Spring, maybe then I can wear it again because I'll have woken up from this terrible nightmare.
BTW R, Dad and Bro (now you know I'm not that anonymous) did not get to use their pangas, not just yet. They are keeping them sharpened though, just in case...just in case?? This is insane!!!

Marsha said...

O how I weep for you and for the people of Kenya. I have visited your country and seen God smile in the sunset over the Mara. I have seen the beauty of the grain growing in the Rift Valley. I have visited friends in one of the slums of Nairobi and seen rebirth and hope. But I have seen other slums of Nairobi, the ones that have been in the news, and seen the lawlessness even in the "good days" of Kenya.

I'm praying for an end to all this senseless burning and killing. It solves nothing.

Anonymous said...

Kenyans as exiles now doesn't seem too farfetched. Safety is not guaranteed anymore.

tom said...

i hate to be the one to tell you this but..it is going to get worse

nairobi is next

i would have told you why but you already know

Mwangi said...

Be strong. We out here in the diaspora are praying for you all.

Prousette said...

Hi R am one of those who has been very very hopeful but real fear has started settling at the pit of my stomach which is a very bad sign as I am one of the most optimistic people I know being Kenyan and all.

Take Care and keep hope alive.

mrembo said...

I do not know what to say...........

Ms K said...

I have been deathly afraid since 30 December. I have been trying to tell people to wake up to the reality, and people have been throwing hard-line careless statements at me, dismissing my fears, trying to shut me up.

Two weeks ago i warned about insurgency in RV, and was shot down again.

I keep telling people, we cannopt move forward, until we face the truth. No more hiding, no more see-no-evil.

Now i walk around with a wounded soul, but i keep wondering when we will face the truth and begin to develop solutions as a people.

I'm numb, but not because I'm tired of watching the news, or because of what's happening. I'm numb because so many of us continue to pretend, to act like its a "little problem", in the words of Kalonzo.

I'm numb because I'm tired of shouting at people to recognise the truth and stand up and be counted.

Anonymous said...

Give me your hand
Help me to stand
Give me reason to get off the ground
I'm tired of feeling down
My people help me to stand!!

This strife is getting me down Even when I sleep am wearing a frown.

taelti said...

i dont mean to appear trivial but i right now have some slight measure of peace within me. i am done with being afraid though i stay close to them yet i am one of the 'enemy'. i have debated with myself what to do; pray for protection from God to stay alive or pray that when they get me, i will get into heaven. i have prayed both.

because, unlike you, i have nowhere to get air tickets from, i dont even have a passport. so i am not going anywhere. i am staying here.

Anonymous said...

my sentiments exactly. Couldn't have said it clearer!