I am the richest person I know. I am the wealthiest being I know but despite all, the world, especially my specific locality, has a reason to tear me down. It has a reason to brush me off. It has a way of crashing me into chunks ready to pour me into hot steaming murk of hopelessness and despair. Here is a short narration why.
I wake up as early as usual to slave for something to eat, for a clothe-skin, for a token so that I don’t sleep with the stars and sometimes maybe, to replenish my wine-skin. It is 6.30 am and I board a matatu from Mathare North the ghetto I live. You may wonder why I said I am the richest and wealthiest person I know. This is because I don’t take my riches or wealth material. My riches are deep within me. It is the breath I take every morning and the day however good or bad that I am humbled to live under the ground.
This seems like one of those days where you have been hugged by an angel, the cold freezing bath that you took just because you don’t have that privilege to press the red button and the hot steam caresses your body, gives you warmth in the cold matatu. Unfortunately there is no Classic 105 in this mat, there is not even a sound of any electronic voice around except this shouting conductor. An old woman, probably in her late 50’s comes and sits besides me. Her clothes look worn out and her face wrinkled with black spots and scars maybe probably from a previous marriage feud. As this is Nairobi you have to be heartless and care about no one, I minded my own business not even a formal greeting I gave.
We are just a mile ahead and the conductor comes round collecting his due. He is a young guy with a scar on his left eye, beer-salved and with drug-eyes. I realize that this old woman sitting next to me is busy shuffling her pockets and gasps probably from a realization that she has forgotten her fare. The conductor then comes and asks for her fare and she humbly says that she has forgotten her purse. The conductor with a harsh tone raises his voice towards her and I intervene by paying her fare. To my amazement, the conductor wouldn’t stop yelling accusing her that he was well familiar with people like her. This woman deeply thanks me and I feel a tear drop on my palm as I comforted her it is okay.
I alight in town and this old mama couldn’t stop thanking me. I shuffled my feet to work and a scary sight almost made my eyes well up in tears. I saw this dirty street child under a staircase covered up in a paper bag crying. The kid was so small and he was extremely shivering from cold. As I said before this is Nairobi, we are used to sightings of struggling street families, orphans and the destitute but I guess not many are used to a small kid covered up in a paper bag crying at a very chilly morning. I sadly walk away trying to erase the sighting and probably create a temporary memory in my brain where I can trash whatever is saved.
I get to work and a fruitful day it is. I chat with my workmates as usual and crack jokes and in a random conversation, someone hands me over a contribution list. Am amazed to hear the story of our fellow humble poor staff. She is a woman with a very small kid and she is battling cancer, she needs to raise millions for her medication and the type of work she does… A nightmare. She lives in a slum, she is unfit to work but all in all she has to make ends meet.
It is lunch hour, and the day at work is just awesome. As a big fan of twitter I scroll over the trending topics and am shocked to see the fights, abusive languages and tribalism fueled on social media. I quit the social media and continue thinking positively about my day. It is then that I call my friend who asks me for a loan that the MCSK officials have seized him, his property and have even destroyed his data simply because he was in possession of local music on his machine. With no funds, I struggled my way to secure a loan too and sort him out. My day ends well, having given my all to my work and keeping calm and positive and being a Tuesday I am ready to go for the Kkrew Bible Study.
I get to town and I immediately fall down. My eyes well up in tears and all I see is smoke. Someone pulls me up and grabs me by my collar. “You are one of them,” he mutters. It is then that I see people running helter-skelter with gunias and I soon realize this is the Nairobi’s County Council and Hawkers saga. I see this old woman probably in her 60’s with blood dripping from her face. She then cries out aloud, “We have been here in these streets since 1992, you young boys are here beating us like wild dogs, what have we done to deserve this? Struggling for the grandchildren who have nothing to eat? If it were not for the death of my own kids, would I be here? Do you think I can afford the cess that you impose unto us?” One of the officials asks me what I have inside my bag and I show him my work laptop and just as he was about to let me go, a police o asks me for the receipt of the laptop and he whispers, “Kijana jitetee ama uende central.”(Young boy, give us something or we take you to central police station) Me, being spiritual I whispered a prayer in my heart saying, “God, if I bow for you I can stand against anyone.” I kept quiet and the other official said that they should let me go.
I was saddened as the old woman who was selling green grams was being shoved to the old city council car. Behind the grilled windows she looked at me and hot tears dripped down my face burning and creating tracts on my cheeks. I went to the Bible Study, still positive with life and am so much amazed by these two street boys who gave their lives to Christ. This street boy talks of how he found himself in Nairobi after the post election violence and the other talks of how he found their house burning in Kahawa and most probably his parents died in the ordeal and had no one to take care of him. I remember us raising funds for his food. Am touched by this, I whisper a prayer to God thanking him of the fantastic life and I head to my house.
I switch on my Tv and my attention is caught by the leaders fighting in parliament. I get bored by the proceeding news of MCAs fighting, tearing each others clothes and even crying in public speaking ill words of hate speech and tribalism. I switch off my Tv and just sit down reminiscent of my day. I thank God for all I have, the single room which acts as my bedroom, sitting room, kitchen, closet, gym, studio etc. I thank God for my neighbor who wakes me up every Saturday with his booming music that almost splits my eardrum open. I thank God for the neighbors who hate me and the caretaker who makes my life there a living hell because the small crying street child would wish for all I have.
What has Kenya become to? A nation that oppresses the poor and always investigates on graft? A nation however how you work with your mind, soul and strength it just crashes your high spirits? A nation that makes me not talk with my immediate neighbor for years? A nation that makes me not say hi to the passenger sitted next to me simply because he/she may have other thoughts about me? A nation that makes you want to crash your Tv every time you switch it on? A nation that only those with connections to something win? A nation that praises its celebrities just after they have passed away? A nation where the rich rule and the poor drool? A nation that spanks you hard with taxes no matter how hard you work? A nation with misplaced priorities, misappropriation of funds and state of the art corruption? A nation where mourning the lives of the rich is prime than that of the poor?
I believe, there is good in Kenya, no matter its weight, a milligram or a gram, there is still good in this land. We say we are a Christian nation but are quick to judge by the law, not the Bible says. We fight battles on Twitter and spread ill on Facebook. No matter how Kenya will castrate my balls, the balls of seeing another terror-free land, the balls of hoping to see a day when stupid politics will not take the best of our people and the balls of hard work expecting a better pay or recommendation but favoritism crashing and gnashing with its teeth that tear in a trice, I will still work hard and condemn the bad. I will be the milligram of good in Kenya, not awaiting the praise of man but the kingdom of heaven. I will preach to all that KENYA needs God. Kenya Needs Christians who worship in truth and in spirit. No matter how you Kenya makes me hopeless, I will not die in despair, I will write till my bottles are desiccated and my quill drains all the ink in the world.
Photo Credit: Slum Photography