A few years ago, in one of my first blog posts in which I openly discussed having been a cancer patient, I hinted to churches (which I doubt read blogposts) on how they could lead the conversation on universal healthcare in Kenya. So as one can imagine, one of my greatest disappointments in the #LipaKamaTender movement has been how the church failed to take the opportunity to lead the country in saving our healthcare. If the church had picked up the issue up and run with it two years ago, we may not have had the strike in the first place.
When I was asked to discuss sexual harassment, it was around the time that there was a spike in the stories I was hearing of sexual bullying. I’d heard of students being asked to see lecturers in their offices behind closed doors, of students going to administrative offices and a suggestion being made that the service would be rendered after doing a certain favor. Because I was single for quite some time, I also know what it means for married men to suggest that maybe you’re lonely and need some company.
When I was your age, I was an education student at Kenyatta University. One semester, our history of education professor gave us an assignment, which was to write a term paper on the impact of different government commissions on Kenyan education.
I took the assignment seriously. I read a number of books on the topic. I even typed and printed my paper, which was a big deal, because there were very few computers available for students.
However, I was fortunate to have a father with a computer that looked like a huge carton. So to type my assignment, I had to go home. I then printed the work and even paid to have it bound.
One of my classmates looked at all my effort and laughed. She said to me: what’s the point of putting all this effort into the assignment? I’m just going to copy someone else’s work, and I will still get an A.
This week, I have been horrified by what I consider to be hateful, violent speech on social media from people whom members of the famous KOT (Kenyans on Twitter) consider to be President Uhuru’s mouthpieces. The first of this talk that I witnessed came from Pauline Njoroge, a self-proclaimed rags-to-riches communications officer at NEPAD, whose obnoxious facebook post doubting the value of Nairobi National Park went viral, and which I first saw on Diana Okello’s wall.
I’d only heard of Pauline Njoroge in passing just a few days before. But the ignorance in the post shocked me so much, that I decided to check Pauline Njoroge’s wall to check if, maybe, I was getting her wrong.
Over ten years ago, when I was a graduate student, I received a small beautiful card in the post, and in it was a handwritten note from one of the faculty in the department where I was. In the note, he said that he loved me, that he couldn’t stop dreaming about me and he wanted to make love with me. So could we go on a date?
Honestly, I thought it was a bad joke, so I tore up the letter and pretended that nothing had happened.
Yesterday evening, I was in a meeting with students discussing their research topics. Each of them wants to study different conflicts in the Kenyan professional and political landscape. Until yesterday, we had been able to avoid talking about politicians and expressing any kind of anger towards them.
Any Kenyan who works in a multi-ethnic space like Nairobi can figure out why every day, one has to play this dance of pretending not to have a political opinion. Kenyan Mpigs have successfully poisoned the environment, so that it has become difficult to talk about the incompetence of the president without the conversation degenerating into ethnic mudslinging.
for Daystar University Chapel
April 7, 2014
Today, we are a region in mourning.
Just three days ago, we lost one hundred and forty-seven of our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, relatives, friends, acquaintances, fellow citizens, in a horrifying attack in Garissa University College.
And today, our East African Community sister country Rwanda commemorates the 21st anniversary of the beginning of the genocide of 1994, a horror that also washed over their country and claimed over 1 million lives in about 100 days.
Both these great losses occurred during the Easter season, when we remember the greatest sacrifice of all; that of our Lord who was innocent, but tortured, mocked, flogged and crucified by our sin.
Even in our grief, we are triumphant, because we know the Resurrection. We know that even as Jesus was whipped by the soldiers, mocked by the crowds, crucified on the cross and taunted by the thieves on Friday, Sunday was coming when the stone would be rolled away and the Lord would appear in the flesh.
However, it is still too soon, and the pain is still too fresh, for us to celebrate the Resurrection when Kenyan families still haven’t identified, let alone buried the victims of the Garissa tragedy. We do know, though, that our sister country Rwanda has emerged from the ashes of 1994 to build a new nation. But even in Rwanda, everything isn’t perfect. Some pain never heals, and like our Lord’s pierced hands and side, the scars will always remain. However, the power of the Resurrection is what keeps us believing two thousand years later. It is the same power that can propel Rwanda to greater heights, and that can help Kenya win the war over terror.
All the same, it’s important for us to remember that there’s no Resurrection without the story of great love, and later great trauma, of the people who loved the individuals who were so cruelly taken from the world. And today, I’d like us to reflect on one such story.
The story of Mary.
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