Kenyans, Let Us Remember

What do we imagine a functioning Kenya looks like?

If you were to ask many Kenyans what they would want Kenya to be like, it would likely be things you would assume the government would have done by now – affordable and available food, health, education, transport.

However, politicians would like us to believe that the issue here is one tribe vs another. That division that was instituted by colonialists and politicians continue to use to their advantage.

In the US, Trump incited his followers to storm the capital and then after the fact, those are the people who are being sentenced. None of the politicians.

In 2007 and in the aftermath of the post election violence, the people who suffered were those who lost their people, their children. People died. Sometimes it seems like we forget that. And the people who killed, who live with the truth that they carried out these atrocities, fueled by politicians whose lives were not changed by the way.

And so when I watched the video of that politician talking about madoadoa, I was flabbergasted, not only by the audacity of his words but also by the cheers after these words were said.

Kenyans, Did we learn nothing? Do we not remember?

And as long as government continues to make the poor poorer and them reliant on handouts, there will always be someone cheering on tribalistic spews by politicians with ill intent. It serves the interests of the politicians for us to be divided. It serves the interest of politicians for Kenyans to believe that somehow their tribe is left out. Despite the fact that the only interest politicians serve is their own.

The truth is that, it is a cycle at this point – for four years, Kenyans suffer under these politicians and then one year, when the elections come around, the politicians lie and incite. We continue to suffer and to lie to ourselves that these recycled politicians will do better is to be foolish. And do you know who will help you when things become difficult? Not the politicians but rather that neighbour you were led to believe is your enemy.

In our day to day lives our differing tribes does not come into play. Yes, the government underdevelops certain regions in this country but I wish we all knew that this is by design. It is all part of the theater known as politics.

Please know that it means nothing to a politicians to play games with people’s lives. They do it all the time. They don’t care if we die as long as they attain/retain power and the money that comes with it.

A regular reminder that the division that exists in this country is the rich, politicos and their kin vs everyone else.

Keep that in mind when you are incited by politicians to harm your neighbour.

And you know what, all these tactics that rely on tribal hatred has been peddled since independence. And it hasn’t worked to make Kenya better. Maybe it’s time to try something new, like unity among the people to let these people (politicians) know that we refuse to be divided by them.

Mtaachana Tu and Kenya’s Culture on Love

Wale Lawal on his insta stories when asked a question to do with love said “Love as a concept is cultural: it may have universal aspects but ultimately love inherits the nuances of its social context” and while ruminating about this, I thought about the context of Kenya and in turn, the prevalence of the “mtaachana tu” mentality.

While most of our understanding on love is from media we consume, our upbringing etc, we develop ideas of love from our culture and in this case, I specifically mean Kenyan culture. To generalise, I started asking myself questions: How did our parents show love to us and each other? And how does this replicate in our own lives and relationships, whether romantic, filial or platonic? And in the greater sense, as country, what do we portray, present and embody when it comes to love? What does it mean for us to love?

And the pertinent question, where does the “Mtaachana tu” mentality or dare I say “culture” come in?

bell hooks in All About Love: New Visions stated “It is far easier to talk about loss than it is to talk about love. It is easier to articulate the pain of love’s absence than to describe its presence and meaning in our lives.”

And I am not saying that Kenya is unique in talking about the lack/loss of love, the ending of relationships, heartbreak etc but there is a specific insidious snarkiness which I see and a delight in misfortune/breakups/heartache that is unique to us.

Even if we were to think of love songs, of which I have a playlist, many of them are about the ending of relationships. I am not sure how other forms of media deal with it but specifically music, we talk more about negative aspects, being unloved, ending of relationships etc.

And it begs the question: Do we even know how to love, to give love and to receive love? I think that is the root of it all – Our lack of understanding of what love should be and as a result, a delight in its ending. Because at the core of it, we have to understand that the end of a relationship is not an end to love. And if I am even being more real, I think we overestimate our capacity and capabilities of loving.

It is easier to be snarky about people breaking up because we don’t even have an understanding of what love is, we see it as a loss of power perhaps.

And what amuses me more is that even as there is an adoption of the mtaachana tu mentality, there is also an accompanying desire, a longing to be partnered and to have a romantic connection with someone. Most often than not, this desire includes the assumption that one, one won’t publicise the relationship so as to avoid any scrutiny and two, that they will somehow escape the realities/trappings of relationships or the delusion that somehow they are above it all.

Culturally and as a society, I find that our definitions of love are rooted in power and ownership of people – a mix of tradition, religion and the all consuming patriarchy.

PS: if you saw this post yesterday, my apologies, it was incomplete at the time of posting

Wedding, Pregnancy and Relationship Industrial Complex

Back in 2010/2011 when I was planning a wedding, the wedding industrial complex was increasing in influence. You could tell that people were being sold ideas on what to do for their weddings and if there is one thing that internet has made very clear, it is very easy to be made to adopt other people’s opinions. Therefore incorporating things in your wedding because of seeing them online whether or not they represented you is something that continues to happen (Did I have a damask themed wedding because I wanted it or was it the hype of the season?).

If you don’t think the wedding industrial complex is a thing, you are willfully ignorant. I think being able to see how capitalism infiltrates almost every facet of our lives and in certain instances, seems to dictate what decisions we should make about how we live.

Over the years, it has become fascinating to watch weddings, relationships, pregnancy and the whole nuclear family dynamic be sold to us especially as social media becomes a part of how we connect, socialise and at the same time how advertising is done. I’m not saying that attempting to sell these things to us is new, but we have to agree that social media adds another other level to it. I mean, we keep seeing people announcing relationships as a means to increase followers and become influencers. Couples are the product. Children are the product.

Remember the couple who had a Kshs 100 wedding? Then brands jumped onto that story and it became this big hullabaloo and an apparent Kshs 3.8 million. What was the point? I mean, we do realise it was promotion of consumerism and a marketing drive and had absolutely nothing to do with the couple, right?

At this point, there are people who are actually getting pregnant with the idea that the children will become the content and as a result a way to make money. I have many thoughts on kids being content but high up on opinions is the lack of protection for the money the children generate. How is that money used by their guardians? (please do not say food and education because as a parent, you should be providing those by virtue of having decided to have children).

Is this a product of that late stage capitalism we keep hearing about?

My point is, and I am still thinking my way through this, events/celebrations and relationships have become spectacles, are over-marketed and over-romanticized and then when people are actually experiencing them, they become jaded and disappointed because it is never how they depict it to be and furthermore life doesn’t work like that. Sadly, even as all these things fill our spaces, our relationships are not better, making better decisions or even doing right by the next generation either by how we are parenting or even how the world is becoming. It is all about money and selling ideals.

A damn shame.

There has never been a time when we need to know ourselves like now. So much of what we think we want to do or be is manipulated into our psyche, yes some of it is peer/familial pressure but social media, marketing etc plays a huge role.

Kenya: Six Things I’ve Been Thinking

We use humour, religion and alcohol to cope with the madness that is living in this country

Most people in this country stay in relationships that don’t serve them because they fear having to start over.

If we really looked at the statistics on domestic abuse including verbal abuse in this country they would be astronomical.

If we did one small thing, let us stop assigning worth and value to people who have wealth. They aren’t automatically right, their lives don’t matter more just because they are rich. Let’s stop valorising them.

The effects of colonialism continue to affect us in ways that a large percentage of the population does not understand.

We only believe we are good people because we are affiliated with a church. We mostly don’t look at people’s actions or character.

Questions I’d Like to Know Answers to

Why are people who have never taken a moment to think about why they make decisions they make so……. ugh?

Do we have organisers or just talking heads?

Are y’all aware when you make chronically online takes?

When do we stop talking and hit the streets?

Why do men think that women aren’t beautiful until a man tells them so?

Given everything that is said about Kenyan women by Kenyan men, why do they still seek out women? Like for real if we are that bad, might as well leave us alone, or?

And also, why do so many conversations center men, relationships with men and men? (I know the answer to this but my god find other things to talk about online outside of men please)

Guilty Pleasures aren’t Guilty

I play Two Dots on my phone a lot. Like when I have a random moment I’ll open the app and play until I’m out of lives. It’s the kind of thing that would be considered a guilty pleasure.

Lucky for me, I don’t feel guilt for participating in things that I enjoy but society thinks I shouldn’t be doing. It is what it is and I’m not living this life for people, you know?

Can you imagine feeling guilty for doing things that actually bring you joy because some random person will frown on it?

Honestly sometimes we give people too much power in our lives.

Go out and enjoy all those random things you do.

Grace, Greed and Corruption

The other day I saw this poster

Source: Twitter

And I am glad we agree that thieving and corruption is embedded in the Kenyan DNA and that whoever becomes a politician (I refuse to call them leaders because WHO ARE THEY LEADING?) will steal, are corrupt and in the end only care about their own interest. And the same time, will go to church and even consider themselves followers of the words in the Bible.

Now, the other thing we must agree on is that we are not a Christian country. It is one of the biggest lies we perpetuate and no amount of church going and prayer breakfasts will hide the evil that happens daily in this country. And it needs to be said that some of the evil is perpetuated and condoned by church and Christians.

Greed, that is what is in this country’s DNA.

It amuses and infuriates me when people say that these leaders are anointed. Or when Christians say that only God can judge the corrupt and in the same vein will judge those who choose not to be christians.

And don’t get me started on people in private companies and government institutions who continue the cycle of corruption, whether in procurement or finance etc. And then they will declare how God has been good to them. Hypocrites.

You think that Kshs 2 billion that the president said is stolen daily isn’t also stolen by Christians?

That’s the thing though, Hypocrisy.

  • The same people who say that god will provide a plate for children will judge the poor who ask for assistance saying “why have children you can’t take care of.” How do you reconcile these two statements?
  • They have little regard for the environment. They will build houses on riparian land, they will litter, they will not plant trees, they don’t even concern themselves with environmental issues
  • (I watched the video of that apartment block in Kinoo collapsing and I pondered whether the person building it goes to church – because the likelihood is OBVIOUSLY HIGH.)
  • There is an unkindness Christians have that is caused by feeling that they are superior than anyone else, and it is mostly because they go to church and read the Bible and not because they actually do anything better. The judgement, the lack of concern for people, the world etc
  • They do not hold leaders to task, they take the coward’s way out of “praying about it” – what absolute cowardice. And that is the thing about prayer – if change happens due to something else, christians are quick to say that their prayers were answered. But what happens when nothing changes, if things become worse, like they are in Kenya – then what???
  • Also, let us not forget how materialist and consumed by possessing “worldy things” the church and its people have become.
  • I’m just going to say it, Christianity as practiced in Kenya is hypocritical and performative primarily because it’s mostly about 1. The idea that they deserve to be blessed with material things and 2. The promise of going to heaven because they label themselves christian and go to church as opposed to the idea that they should be doing good deeds on earth.

PS: I know there are about 4,000 religions in the world but I want to make it abundantly clear that this post is about Kenyan Christians and their hypocrisy. Again as per my usual disclaimer this is my ruminations about what I see happening.

Utumishi kwa Wote

If you want to read political writing on the Kenya Police please click on this link here.

This is a post on me ruminating about police.

Due to the construction on Waiyaki Way, I have been using Jogoo Road quite often. And I have been curious how much the police make on bribes because FOR SURE, Lusaka Road and Jogoo Road are over policed and they stop matatus all the time – and we know what that means. BRIBES.

It made me continue to see the intersection between how they speak about over policing in poor areas in the US and how that is the case here.

The truth is that

  • We have been scared to the point that we believe that the police are necessary. The truth is that most of the crime that happens is due to poverty.
  • On top of that, the existence of the police does nothing to deter crime.
  • And let us not forget that the police exist to protect the interest of the rich. That is why even when there are protests over issues that would benefit the lives of police, they still brutalise the protestors. The reality is that it is Utumishi Kwa wenye wako na pesa.
  • There is a reason why the police in Kenya are chosen how they are chosen.
  • There is a reason why police are gleeful when they are tormenting people. It is because of the power they believe they have at that moment. They might have terrible living situation, low salary etc but at that point when they are harassing someone, they feel semblance of control.
  • If there were no traffic police, would Kenyans be reasonable on the road? One might be asking, especially since Matatus becomes a menace when there are no police. This has nothing to do with police and more to do with our culture. As I have said a couple of times, Kenyans are unkind and you can see it on the roads. Capitalism also comes into play here but also we are unkind and unreasonable drivers.

More Opinions No One Asked For

It really bothers me when people question others who have dated (and are not married) for a long time. When people are married for a long time it is seen as a good thing but somehow if people aren’t (officially) married but still together for a long time, it is seen as strange. That just seems weird to me.

The underlying notion being that the goal of all romantic relationships remains marriage. Not a healthy relationship, but this government sanctioned union. People need to unlearn that and imagine other ways relationships can exist.

I know it’s a human thing but maybe because I’m here I feel like Kenyans have delusions of grandeur, much like Americans who think their country is the greatest despite evidence to the contrary. Most times, even when people are saying things about Kenya, imagine it is ok to say “enyewe there is a point.”

As social media continues to be integral to our existence we must learn not to internalise everything we come across. Because imagine, it isn’t about you. Don’t try and make what you read, see, hear fit into who you are, what you think and feel (including mental health diagnoses), opinions etc just because you saw it without further thought.

The few readers of this blog, I’ve been sick hence the silence but like the ashes, we rise (FYR it isn’t covid, and that test isn’t pleasant yikes).

Kenyan TikTok

People often tell me I’m hard on Kenyan TikTok but I do not think I am.

I’m just going to say it, I believe it is a lack of personality across the spectrum is so loud on TikTok. Like if you don’t have a personality you come off as boring and that’s most of Kenyan TikTok. Especially when all you can do is copy what other more interesting people do.

Even the refusal to accept this criticism is emblematic of many things wrong with Kenyans on many social media platforms. By design I can just scroll past your boring nonsense and that is my criticism of the otherwise pretty good TikTok algorithm. I shouldn’t be forced to watch Kenyan TikTok just because we are in the same location.

And honestly that snarkiness that is rampant on Twitter doesn’t translate well on TikTok. Those TikToks that are dope and engaging and entertaining require that one have a personality. I wish, most – just like me – would opt to only be viewers. Not all the time posting.

Anyway, some few things I’ve observed thus far:

We’ve been told that we can monetize travel and eating out and that’s why many posts are about that. Oh I went here even if all I did was walk through the place.

I did not get TikTok to see you try and sell me something. And then starting the TikTok with “Don’t scroll” means I will scroll immediately. The posts are dry!!!

Twitter lied to you that you are a thought leader, that shit is boring on TikTok.

How many HR tips can one give? This also goes for every other career talking head person on there…. it is just I don’t know….. dry.

Kenyans married to white people are just…..ugh. This isn’t a personality my people please.

White people with passport privilege moving to Kenya and Kenyans fangirling in the comments will forever be disgusting. Instead of welcoming them, more Kenyans should be commenting “smells like white privilege” in the comments.

Stop taking memes from Twitter and then putting a laughing track on them and thinking that is content.

Christians and other Bible thumpers. *facepalm*

Misogynists. Oh lawd the boring misogynists. The unoriginality of it all.