Let’s Stand For Kenya- February 28th


Last Friday, I was in a matatu which blatantly flouted some traffic rule , right in front of a traffic cop.  It made him so pissed to the point of insults. How dare he not acknowledge his presence! The cop told us to get off, so that he can get his bribe take the matatu to the station. I and a few others were of the opinion that he should obligate the conductor to get us another matatu since we were at some random place and we’d have to walk some distance to get another. The traffic cop didn’t think it was his problem and told people to get off. Some of us protested but after he raised his voice, most people started getting off and silently got back part of their fare and started trekking. They were late for work, and didn’t have time for “meaningless arguments” as one put it. I was left behind with one other passenger still b*tching. But it didn’t matter cos our 2 voices weren’t enough. I took my cash and started walking feeling totally defeated and  like an idiot.

Ever since the Feb28 initiative was launched, I’ve been trying to find my own interpretation of it. I know Kenya needs a something, but I wasn’t sure what kind. I know we don’t need the kind of revolution that is happening in the former Northern Africa region now known as the Middle East. 2008 remains fresh in my mind. Plus, that kind of uprising would have worked in 2002 if Mo1 had refused to relinquish power. Despite what people say we do have the tools to make this country work. I also didn’t know how or where to start. The idea was great but was still vague to me. That morning, it started to become a little bit clearer.

As Kenyans we have become conditioned to accept mistreatment especially coming from those of authority and power. Either due to ignorance of our rights or because of being shown over and over again that our rights mean nothing. Add to that the kind of politics that is keen on making sure that our differences are the first thing we focus on whenever anything of national importance is discussed. Majority of us just want to go to work, put food on the table and maybe have a few drinks over the weekend. So what if matatu drivers and traffic cops are abusing their power. So what if the City Council is increasing rates while doing absolutely nothing to improve the conditions of the City Centre? It doesn’t affect us directly and even if we talked about it it’s not gonna change anything. Even when the government spends 35 million gallivanting around the continent on shuttle diplomacy, it didn’t affect us directly. My paycheck remains the same.

There’s been a lot of questions about what February 28th will achieve. What next. So we sing the national anthem,make some noise and then what? To be honest, I don’t know what next. All I know is we need a starting point. If it’s so hard for Kenyans to get together to do something as inane as standing and singing the national anthem, what will get us together? What’s important is we need action. I’m tired of taking blow after blow lying down. I’m tired of a group of people deciding what they are more important than the country. I am tired that barely a year after passing through a new constitution they show utter contempt to it as if it was worth less than the paper it was printed on.

Maybe we need Feb 28th to prove to ourselves – and it’s more important to prove to ourselves than those who oppress  us – that we can get together to remind ourselves that this country belongs to us and what binds us are the words of the National Anthem. Maybe some of us need to be reminded of what the colours of the flag represent.  That the power of the country belongs to us.  Granted a lot of what happened in the Egypt is the catalyst. When I watched those guys in Tahrir Square, I wanted to be a part of that. Not the violence, but part of making a difference for my country.  It just takes a spark in our minds to set something like that in motion. Maybe we need to remind ourselves that every small step counts. And then maybe next time I’ll get support in the matatu. Maybe we’ll even manage awaken the conscious of a few lawyers who’ll help us find ways to put a stop to the madness that is parliament.

Or at the very least we can start a chain of awareness and education, so that in 2012, when we cast our votes, we are ready to put in place people who will stand for us.

I don’t know for sure what comes next. We need to decide that. But I know we have to  do something!




Check out the KenyaFeb28 site for more info

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