Let us create a country all of us can be proud of
By Julie Masiga | June 2nd 2020
Fatigue. Bone crushing fatigue. That’s where I’m at. When I’m minding my own business, home-schooling my child and losing my mind, and the president comes on television to tell me how he chastised his son for breaking curfew, I just get so tired. Tayad. So many things don’t add up about that narration. You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to see the holes in the story. But it’s out there – another effort in public relations that we are supposed to treat as empirical evidence.
Meanwhile, a young man, and many other youths, are being brutalised by police for being caught out after curfew hours. Brutalised. Beaten, maimed, and killed. Not ‘dressed down’ for wanting to be with their girlfriends while putting their grandmothers at risk.
I think it’s safe to assume that if a president’s son breaks curfew, he does so with the full knowledge of his State-sponsored security detail. Meaning that his law-breaking decisions are cushioned by privilege. Were he not the president’s son, he may as well have been found injured, or dead.
That aside, I have also become well acquainted with the hazards of child-rearing. The past three weeks of home school have uncovered all my inadequacies as a parent. Most of the time I suck. I’m impatient. Short-tempered. Mean. Exacting. And slave-driving. All the love I have for my daughter is replaced by the ‘burden of other people’s expectations’ as soon as the clock strikes 9 am.
Learning to read
At nine, we enter into a Kenyan education world where passing tests is more important than learning, and I morph from Mum into Miss. A woman who demands success no matter what the consequence. Note, my child is just six. She’s not studying for a doctorate, she’s still learning how to read.
So, I understand the president’s consternation – whether real or projected – when he spoke about his son’s disobedience. Your children can test you well beyond your limits, the operative word being ‘your child’.
Kenyans – in the general sense of the word – are active citizens with agency. We are not children of the State. We cannot be pacified by bedtime stories about the lives of fairies, goblins, kings and queens. We are living in a stark reality that has altered the very essence of our being – a reality that cannot be eased by tales of princes and queen mothers. What don’t need spin, we need solutions.
See, a number of days ago, a black man named George Floyd was murdered by non-black policemen in the state of Minnesota, in the United States of America. His death is the latest in a long line of modern-day lynchings perpetuated by law enforcement against black folk in the US. Understandably, black people and their allies, took to the streets across America to protest police brutality.
They used protest – in some instances violent protest – to give voice to the injustices they have faced since the first black person was frogmarched off a slave ship onto ‘American’ soil. Truth be told, black people in America have been protesting against injustice for centuries.
Ironically, here in Africa, no one has to call the cops for a cop to kill you. Cops can do bad all on their own. A policeman will break your nose for being out after curfew while politicians congregate to eat, drink, and strategise without consequence.
African states oppress their own people without any provocation. African leaders put capitalism, greed, and self-aggrandisement before the basic wellbeing of the majority, often at the behest of a global elite. The African people, like the black Americans, live in a world where their value is a commodity to be traded in a marketplace where black lives are the cheapest.
It is a tragic state of affairs. An unfortunate set of circumstances. A tiresome and vexing reality. If I am honest, this is not the world I want to live in. This is not the world I want to raise my daughter in. This is not a world I want to procreate in. I. Am. Tired. Like we all are. But ‘there is no otherwise’. We either fix this world, or die in it.
We can make a change, so let’s think about what change looks like. Let’s imagine a space where social justice means more than power and politics. Let’s take the first step towards rebirth and transformation. Let’s create a country that we can all be proud to call our land, home, heritage, and legacy for our children, privileged or not.
Ms Masiga is Peace and Security editor, The Conversation
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