Are you a privileged Kenyan? Please take a few minutes and find out because this letter is addressed to you.
You are a privileged Kenyan if; You have stocked your fridge with food to last you a month during this coronavirus period, you have stocked your pantry with dry foods to last you a week or a month, you are working from home with a laptop, you own a car (s), use a taxi or are picked from home and dropped by the office car, you live in a gated community or have 24-hour security at your home, your biggest worry right now is inconsistent internet or the disrupted power meaning you won’t watch your favorite series on Netflix, Showmax or DSTV.
Or that the zoom meetings are too many and taking too long, that you will miss your planned Easter holiday at the Coast, NaxVegas or Dubai or that you miss hanging out or with the boys or girls as you choma kanyama with drinks. You worry that you have chipped nail polish and that you can’t fix your hair now that hair salons are closed as they are not essential services according to the Kenya government. You spend at least 3 hours a day on social media tweeting, tiktoking or taking filtered pictures for the gram.
There’s nothing wrong with this because it is important to do what makes you happy. However, you need to be aware that you are amongst the privileged, fortunate or lucky people in society. You MUST not use your privilege to demean those who can’t access what you have despite working so hard.
The Kenyans you see being brutally beaten by the police on the streets are not lazy, ignorant or difficult. They just want to earn a decent living providing for their families. They are not out there wanting to catch the coronavirus or wanting to provoke the police. They are going to labor for hours to get that Sh100 bob to buy flour and vegetables for the children to eat and survive just for that day. Some have had to walk kilometers to their workplaces as they cannot afford taking public transport. Others have no option but use the public transport despite knowing very well the danger that lays in holding that matatu rail, seating shoulder to shoulder with strangers or even touching money that could be contaminated, but they have no other option.
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They die if they do and die if they don’t. It’s either they go work for that dollar and unfortunately catch the coronavirus or if lucky, get whipped and kicked by police or stay home and die of starvation. No parent will watch their child die of starvation. They would rather go out and die trying than sit at home and do nothing. Unlike you, coronavirus is just one of their problems but it’s the least of their problems. I know this might be too complex for you to comprehend.
So what am I saying? You must first know that you are privileged then use that position to speak for the less privileged in society or just keep your mouth shut. You must learn to be empathetic. Stop pushing for a lockdown when you don’t know how other Kenyans will feed. Stop supporting police brutality for whatever reason and don’t call Kenyans ignorant or ‘hard-headed’ for not meeting the curfew. You don’t know why they are late or whether they even have a home to stay at. These Kenyans will come for your food if they can’t go to work. They will risk it all to feed their families even if it means coming for you, and just incase you are not aware, they are the majority.
Please learn to look beyond your noses and check your privilege!