Something struck me yesterday. Was on my way to town, crossing one of the footbridges in a bid to catch a matatu. At this footbridge, there is this one blind beggar you are sure to find. He sits at a particular position, out-stretching his dish and clanking the few coins therein from time to time in a sympathetic effort to attract the attention of pedestrians using the bridge. He sits there from dawn till dusk, oblivious of the frenzy traffic just below him. I occasionally drop a penny (and sometimes like Peter and John in the Bible – silver or gold I do not have, is all I utter – as I rush to my daily activities). Like most of the past days I didn’t have anything to offer on this day – anyway, who hasn’t felt the economic crunch following the political stalemate and crisis that has enthroned our country.
I however sometimes just stare at the blind man, in pity, as if it would in some miraculous whim pronounce healing to him and restore his sight. To my dismay, this blind beggar is today hanging his voter’s card round his neck for all who care to see. I know a few individuals will retort: “What a baseless and trivial issue he is raising!” A tiny footnote indeed, considering a whole wordy page on the discourse on national cohesion, nonetheless of great import and worth our consideration.
That it has reached a point that even that blind beggar in the streets is aware of his sub-nationality. It is a good thing to identify with where we come from but when our origin becomes the most formidable ground we can put on the table to win us a place or grant us some form of assistance from those around us then it becomes worrying. So the blind beggar, aware of the monumentality of this day, suddenly wants to identify as a jubilee party supporter and an active voter. Trying to understand his train of thinking, one concludes that he is doing this for either honestly fearing that some supporters of the opposition perhaps disappointed by the court ruling would probably come and take away the few coins if they are merciful enough not to hurt him. Or perhaps like most of us, he is using his ‘party allegiance’ to convince passers-by that he is indeed one of them.
The blind beggar, though a tiny fraction of this whole setup, largely represents a general truth that this country currently is. A gritty portrayal of this whole scenario may not be any different from what the blind beggar, in his insignificance, portrays. Nationhood and brotherhood have been relegated. We no longer have faith even in our own neighbours – as long as they support ‘the other people’. We only trust our brothers from the same tribe or at least faction. Soon, we may just wake up to find a charity organization that only offers help to a certain area. Ethnic profiling has become the norm of the day. Messages of warnings have become commonplace in the social media. Peace makers of the day have quite good messages which have become so humdrum that they no longer excite our inner ears – even their heralds lack the earnestness one would expect.
Our greatest assurance of safety is in hanging those ethnic identities, as it were, around our necks, if we belong to the politically correct group. For those who were born on the other side, their safety lies in hiding and disguising their identity as much as possible.
That is why I think that this could be that time in history, again, when we must apply selective amnesia as a nation. It is that time when we have to choose the most expedient of actions, and not what we deem as right or important. We have to literally move on for the chasm of disunity is broadening by the day and we may soon dip into the abyss of civil unrest. It is a time we need to revisit the values on our national anthem as a country & live to mean the very truth of the words;
Oh God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.
Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendour
Firm may we stand to defend
Let all and one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.