Wavering patriotism will be Kenya’s bane

When I was in high school, we generally hated school. We complained about the food, the teachers, the labs and everything in between.

If you heard us speak, you would likely have imagined that the school would soon suffer damage because of our hatred. Indeed, there were many strikes and many attempted arsons.

Relationships between students were also not so cordial. Bullying was the order of the day and one had to constantly watch their backs for bullies and petty thieves.

Our property was never safe and you were never sure if you would find things missing from your box or the whole box would be missing.

Despite all this, we seemed to have some common sense and unity that seems lacking in Kenya today. First, we loved our school anthem. I remember we would chant with such gleeful voices, “Njoro, Njoro, the school of men!”

At that point it did not matter what was wrong, we were one. One for all and all for one. On the sports arena, we cheered our teams on. Even if all the bullies were in that team, we would not care - they had our undying support, win or lose. We did not waver, we knew who the enemy on the pitch was and we knew whose side we were on.

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A particular incident springs to mind when I think of the level of unity that we had. In the early 2000s Mungiki was a huge and scary menace.

As fate would have it, they attacked one of us while he was coming back to school. The moment the incident was reported to us in school at about 6pm in the evening, we swung into action.

All the Form Four students rushed to the gate, ready to walk out and teach the mungiki rascals a lesson or two on combat. No one bullied one of us.

We bullied each other, but no one bullied one of us. We were stopped by the principal and the police who having gotten wind of our plot and aware of our reputation, quickly assured us that they would handle the matter.

Many years later, I am astonished when I consider our national behaviour when it comes to patriotism. The truth is that just like my high school, Kenya has a lot to work through and sort out.

We have issues with corruption, Healthcare and finance to mention but a few. Yes, we are right to constantly highlight these issues but it is not right to let the rot make us feel less Kenyan.

It is not right that we do not sing our anthem with pride, let alone remember its lines. It is sad that we support our athletes only when they win but when they lose we become their harshest critics. 

I worry that the logic of teenage boys in high school is of a better quality than we as a nation.

More worrisome to me is how we cover the news of Kenya’s battles with foreign nations. One key example is our current maritime dispute with Somalia.

Last week when Somalia refused to bring the dispute to the EU, our headlines read “Kenya suffers a blow...” I wondered whether the headline had been written by a Somali government official.

Patriotism would have dictated that the headline read, “Somalia snubs peaceful resolution to maritime row”. You see, dear reader, there is a reason the American media say: 20 people died among them 3 Americans. It is because to them there is the US of A and then there is the rest of humanity.

There is a reason an American who kills 20 people is a lonely disturbed individual and a foreigner who kills the same number of people is a terrorist.

This practice is called wrapping the news in the flag. As far as foreign dealings are concerned our media must always be on the side of our nation. We must win the fight at least in our own press. It should not be left to the world to tell our story-we must tell them our version of truth.

Make no mistake, it benefits us little to hang our dirty laundry for the world to see. We need to learn to keep our internal squabbles away when we are facing external threats.

It must be obvious to every Kenyan, journalist and politician that in any dispute we are always Team Kenya. Whether on the sports field or in territorial disputes we are all Kenyan first, standing as one man.

There should be no doubt in the minds of our athletes, ambassadors, foreign affairs staff as to where we, the people, and the media stand. They should all know and always know that we have their backs.

We need to employ the mentality my university classmate’s friends. My classmate loved  fights. Whenever he threw a punch, his whole crew would punch whoever he was punching too. Only after things have settled down would they ask what the fight was all about.

I am not supporting violence. What I am saying is when Kenya says ‘jump’, we should jump, and while we are miles up in the air, ask her how high she wanted us to jump.

On this issue Kenya should have one voice: Kenya should keep the disputed territory as she has since independence, anything other than that is unacceptable and we should support our Nation’s sovereign rights to the hilt and to a man!

Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]

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