This is the third essay on this ongoing #IAmKenya Essay Series which highlights some of the outstanding pieces submitted by young people from Mathare, Kisauni and Changamwe on Cohesion, Diversity and Reconciliation. Why are they doing this? Well, they want to be considered to be volunteers in #IAmKenya, which aims to train 45 youth from these locations on film, photography and citizen journalism and use these new skills to promote cohesion among youth from different ethnic and political backgrounds in Kenya.
Poeta Dennis, from Mathare’s Huruma Area has the following to say….
“I strongly believe that to have peace, there must be war- you might be surprised right now but let me explain.
It may sound cliché, but we go verbal when we are angry and so we might utter what might hurt the receiver on the other end. This means that the truth comes out after the action of speaking while (sic) you are angry. The same with friendship, most of friends will tell you that they locked horns, hated each other in their first encounters before sealing the cake.
Before 2007-8 post election violence, most communities co-existed in harmony (that’s what they thought) until the violence erupted the real monsters in them that saw long time neighbors, friends, ethnic groups fight amongst each other. I was a victim of this as I faced my encounter with friends who wanted to circumcise me or dump me in Nairobi River because I refused to reveal my ethnic background. I always knew I belonged to one tribe – Kenya, but I was wrong.
Later on, I came to observe that after all the chaos and resettlement took its course, and now Mathare community wore a new face; boundaries were broken and the dominance of one tribe around that place as it was earlier was now changed to an all-ethnic settlement. This showed that there was pain and anger that was camouflaged in inside people’s hearts and it was only a matter of time before it erupted. Bloodshed and loss of lives, property and mistrust clouded people’s hearts with regrets for their actions, but they forgave the perpetrators but never forgot the incidences. This was a lesson well learnt and now we would look at our neighbour as a Kenyan and not a Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya etc. I am not championing for war in terms of bloodshed and killings, but war to act, lead, inspire, empower people to be the best they cannot just with words, but through creation of opportunities for employment.
Poverty is not the cause of societal vices but it is a major facilitator. I realized that tribalism doesn’t exist. The only tribe that exists in Kenya is that of the rich and the poor. Low income community members fought amongst themselves and upcountry residents too. But in the suburbs and posh areas of Kenya, they heard about the war on their TVs and radios.
Poeta has been selected to be a participant in #IAmKenya and we hope, will inspire many more young people to speak out for their communities. Visit https://www.onepercentclub.com/en/#!/projects/sisikamakenya for more information on this project or to donate to support it.