Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear Siri, this is not a secret, we must rid ourselves of fear

Dear Siri,

You are not happy at all, Siri.  And you know I wish that you were. Not so long ago you told me about your frustrations with the slow pace of developments in Kenya. I remember sighing a lot when you mentioned tribalism. You were skyping with me from a far country where you live and work for now. You told me that we had to do something. I promised to write you a letter. Skype was not enough even though we could talk for long, see each others' expressions and even take tea in between. You liked my black mug. It was written in white. NO to Racism! From such things, I drink Siri.

You know your name fascinates me.Siri. In Kiswahili it means a secret and you seem to have none. In Norwegian it is a girl's name. And it is not in the dictionary Norsk-engelsk dictionary by Aschehough and Gyldendal that I have here. But we have the internet. And I have found it in a site called My birthvillage.com! Its meanings are given there in Kiswahili and Swedish. " The baby girl name Siri comes from the Indian word which means 'Godess Lakshmi, wealth'. 'God's gift of love'. In Sandinavian countries it means "Beautiful & victorious, fair victory!"

I really wish for us in Kenya, Siri that we become like you. Have a fair victory. Can we make it? How shall we make it to live with that wealth that is love? You know Siri, a lot is said about our peoples taking to tribalism because of lack of knowledge. I disagree. You see Siri, very often we take it for granted that things cannot be examined and questioned and that this makes us grow. Look, I know that many people in Kenya quoted to me the Bible, in the book of Isaiah often during elections.

They told me.. "My people perish for lack of knowledge!" Not always so. We know much about one another. Of course we can always learn more but we lie to ourselves if we say that people discriminate for lack of knowledge of the other. No one knows a human being completely. No one can actually master even one culture and why it ticks. Our business is not to master one another. It is to be open to one another. I do not know all your customs in your area but to love and not want to cut you down including with a panga does not come from knowing your customs. I know it just by being human. I do not want anyone to cut up my children or me, and so it simply follows that I do not wish it on any human being.

I saw that a dean at the University of Nairobi was very excited that on one radio there is education about our many ethnic groups. I understand. But let me say that it is actually injustice that makes people angry, not lack of knowledge. It is when people are left out and feel they are hanging precariously on the whims of those in power and not institutions.

Tribalism which is worrying you and is uppermost on our minds for a long, long time and moreso since 2007 has a direct correlation with poor governance. I mean that if Kibaki had led in a different way, it would not be an uppermost concern. It grows proportionately with cronyism, nepotism and corruption. There is some kind of touting of what one has and can do for individuals one chooses that goes with it. It grows more when institutions are not respected.

You have seen the Judiciary in Kenya is trying to make a significant mark. The fact is that Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the president cannot appoint as Kibaki had done 47 county chiefs without regarding of gender and unilaterally was great. In the judicial reforms and appointment we were and are breaking world records with the vetting of judges. Why should anyone then over look an instutition and be so retrogressive, so against the steps we have already taken forward. This kind of action as the county bosses were not reflecting any gender or even regional balance bring tribalism head on to the people. It really does not take too much to see that.

Just rulings, will include the risk of choosing democracy. It is a risk in that it allows power to the people and the people can do a lot with power, but it is a happy risk. Much better than not having it and choosing dictatorships. You will see, Siri that if judgements continute to uphold the rule of law and human rights, there will be less tribalism.

I know there are so many other issues to speak about but I must do that another time. However, I want to let you know how much I enjoyed meeting or seeing Aung San Syu Kyi in Oslo. It was on 16.06.2012. She was so peaceful land so calm inspite of the very many years of oppression. She gave a marvellous speech in which her reference to refugees and those who are not at home was so moving because she knows what it means for one to be shut off from the people one loves. I was very near where she passed and there was something that many people did not see but which I saw. A woman from Burma covered her head with a cloth as she left the hall on the isle. I was watching how she bent her head so humbly and the cloth was put on her. I have a photo which is not so clear but which I will post to you with time. Today am writing very late and I have an early morning flight to catch. And I cannot find the page i wanted to quote in this book but will.

But Siri, the more I read about Burma where my Uncle and so many other Kenyan men were taken to fight by the British, the more I see that we have here a model both for Kenya and for us. What do I mean?  I will eleborate and draw parallels. I will not do it all in this letter as I will write again. For today, let me just say that when I read about dosa bhaya or corruption that is indulged in because of fear. I read about in Freedom from Fear by Aung San Syu Kyi. I had two ideas.

First was of course Bhaya... so close to mbaya which we depending on the class of the noun we are discussing in Kiswahili also turn it to baya means bad. Now this is deep. Aung San Syu Kyi describes four types of corruption. Dosa bhaya is an injustice one does because they are afraid to disappoint. They connive in cheating or giving another public resources because that other is a clansman or woman, of the same tribe or family and there is fear to say no because love might be affected. I have never seen corruption split into these sections and I wish so much to share more with you if you would like it. For you see, where there is fear we cannot look one another in the eye and say, we are going to sort out the problems of our country. We have faith in the people, in one another and this is something we must do.

All people who have a public post, all people who can write and do, must help us cut deep into our consciousness and from there arise with better thoughts and deeds. Arise without fear of saying this is where things have gone wrong and this, is what we can do about them...

I will write more when you reply. Remember to suffer in your heart for Uganda hit by Ebola a second time. We do not need more of these diseases that are so mysterious. Siri, all human being are learning and all of them are behind. Do not think as many do that all is well in advanced nations. I am sure you have heard that in a Baptist church in the USA a pastor refused to preside over the marriage ceremony of a couple simply because they are black. I guess this pastor who apologised later has never understood anything around him, never really seen these people. But he knew for sure that they worshipped in his church. He saw for sure, black people all over that land built upon slavery but he never saw. He learned but had no knowledge because he never wanted, did not have the will to open up to people of a dark skin. I am just concluding by telling you that we do not want the knowledge we have. We have to learn to will to know and to do.
We have to stand up without fear. We have to...

So long Siri,
Ni mimi

1 comment:

  1. Just like you are speaking to me....yes we all hear the voices but will we heed to the call.My rejoinder will be indue course