Updated: Sep 12, 2020
May Justice be our Shield, and Defender.
In African society, man was born politically **FREE and EQUAL,** regardless of wealth, status, or belonging.
In the social contract between the state and the individual, the former maintains a monopoly of violence. The constitution gives the state power to deploy weapons of violence, including guns, cuffs, and tear gas, hence the monopoly. However, state power is not unlimited.
Rather, it is pre-conditioned on the equivalent responsibility of the state to guarantee individual and collective freedoms as no one else can. This is definitely not the case in Kenya today and in much of Africa.
PORK said it well in his speech on Madarak Day, June 1, 2020; that we Kenyans have a rare opportunity to rethink the social contract that brings us together as a people, and as a Republic. This coming from a sitting President is both courageous and commendable. It’s a challenge I, and #WeTheYouth are ready to take up.
A conversation like this requires that we go back to the beginning, and interrogate similar transitions in our country’s history. It calls for consistent engagement, an obsession, with a particular question: Who are "we," and what brings us together? In the speech on Madarak Day, PORK alluded to Session Paper #10 as our equivalent of the Federalist Papers. So let’s start there.
Session Paper #10 articulates a solid basis for political participation in newly independent Kenya. We certainly have strayed far from the premise of SP10, but the good thing is that we now know what we need to do to re-engage ourselves in shaping the political destiny of our country, through political participation.
If political participation is indeed a key pillar of African Socialism, then nothing more than fear keeps us, as individuals, from exercising our political rights.
Guoya úturagia njamba githaka! - Fear keeps the warrior hiding in the bush.
So what am I afraid of and, how can I overcome this fear.
On the morning of Sunday, June 14th, 2020, I woke up as usual and walked to the local kibanda to buy milk for my coffee. Mine is a house of coffee. I truly believe that if Coffee was a person, she would no doubt be Kenya’s ambassador to the universe. My day doesn’t start until I’ve had my coffee black, no sugar, and Brookside milk on the side. And yes, only Brookside works. Funny, I know right!
Anyway on my way back, just a few steps to my gate, I see a white unmarked Toyota corona cross the street aiming directly at me. Then two gentlemen opened the passenger door and I could see clearly the brownish wooden handle of an AK47!
What to do? What to do? Is there a revolution finally about to start right outside my doorstep? Nah! Of course not! No way that could be, and so I ran as fast as my dear legs could carry me!
Before I could make it to the gate, I heard a police officer shouting behind me “Wewe! Simama hapo! Simama kijana! Wewe!” The moment I realize its a police officer, I stop and walk back. He charges at me accusing me of running away from a state officer.
I tell him no, I didn’t know you’re a police officer! You are riding in an unmarked private car, two guys brandishing guns in the middle of the day. How am I to tell that you are not thugs? I’ve been stopped before on this same street, while taking a walk with my dear wife, only to be accused of being Nigerian, and all for wearing shorts.
Kinyatha gigituma ndugamio ni borithi.
This time round, I had forgotten my mask at home in hurry to get a box of Brookside maziwa. So I willingly submited to the police officers and joined two other citizens in the back seat - an old Mzee with his mask on, and a Mrembo without. This is how I found myself abducted in broad daylight by armed and uniformed state officers: state-issued uniform, state-issued rifles, and a pair of state-issued handcuffs!
What really pained me was that even after I had submitted to an unlawful arrest, the driver of the unmarked car, who was wearing civilian clothes, ordered a uniformed officer to handcuff me as i sat in the back seat!
And in that moment realized that if only George Floyd had had his hands free of them handcuffs, he would probably have fought back to save his life! It is absolutely abhorrent that while the whole world protests police brutality against black and brown bodies, we here in the Motherland are busy brutalizing our own like a people who have sold their souls to the devil. Them handcuffs are them tools of modern slavery! Used by the state to enslave its own people!
The state should guarantee individual and collective freedoms, not trade them for a Dollar here a Yuan there!
Corruption makes cheap politics.
The second thing I realized with being handcuffed is that when the distance between freedom and slavery becomes too thin, so does the distance between love and hate. When freedom becomes so cheap that it can be bought or so for Ksh 1,000, we must ask ourselves why the hell did our ancestors shed their blood anyway?
If I can’t walk down the street to buy me a box of Brookside maziwa, without ending up in handcuffs, I might have ask to myself, “kai ndatuikire Ngombo na ndimenye?” - Did I become a slave, unknowingly?”
Handcuffs are a painful reminder of the deepest trauma and agony of the black man - Slavery. Every black man who has seen the image of our ancestors in chains knows the pain and trauma of our people whose freedom was taken away using the power of the cuffs. To be in chains, or cuffs is to a slave...not even a criminal.
The story of the black man is founded on the experience of slavery and anti-black racism. When the white man showed up on the shores of Africa he brought money and gifts and was generously offered slaves in return.
We sold our own to slavery. Our mothers did not sell their children to the enslaved. Our forefathers sold their best to be oppressed in foreign lands. Our forefathers bequeathed our founding fathers with the same trauma that still haunts us to date; The betrayal of a father. They fought for freedom and land; they got the land and lost the freedom.
Magite inya makinyirite inyanya.
To be a father is to protect your own and guarantee their freedoms at all cost. Not to disown and never to betray, even for a million bucks! Freedom should be the pre-amble of a new social contract between us as a people.
Political participation goes beyond voting in elections. Casting our vote is the first Act of Freedom. Freedom to choose NOT JUST who but also HOW we are governed.
#WeTheYouth have a natural-born right to participate in the political process. #WeTheYouth cannot blame the colonial masters, post-colonial dynasties, or foreign ideologies (communism or capitalism) for our apathy to politics.
#WeTheYouth must be the change we seek in the world!