2017 has been a crazy year. I’m sure I don’t need to list all the bad things that have happened in the world since you already know them. I will however mention one of the things that has hit closest to home for me. And that is the election unrest in Kenya.
A few months before the August 8th election, I sat behind an elderly gentleman on the bus. After I had settled in my seat, he turned to face me, said hello, and asked if I was from Africa. I said yes, and he asked, “Which country, Kenya or Uganda?”. Now I’ve heard it said that for Africans in the States, it is possible to differentiate between and African American and an African African. I haven’t always been very successful at it but I’m used to it so that didn’t surprise me. But to have him be so spot on as to narrow down the actual country?! Anyway, I told him I was from Kenya and he told me that he was from Congo. He then asked, “In Kenya, Kikuyu is the most important tribe, or Luo?” Of course, my answer was that there is no “most important” tribe, but I must say I felt my heart sink. This is how far the issue of tribalism in Kenya has spread.
I’ve seen him on the bus several times after that encounter. It so happens that one of those times was on August 8th. He asked me who I was supporting, and I told him I wasn’t supporting any candidate since I was not going to be voting. Now, I’m not the type of person who keeps up with news and current affairs that much. Ask me what new TV shows or Movies are coming out and I’m your guy. After the elections though, there was not really a way to escape all the bad news that was coming from home. I read numerous social media posts from people on either side of the debate. I read intelligent posts, funny posts, painful posts that made you feel like crying and hateful posts that made me angry. I wanted to lend my voice, but I didn’t think I had enough authority to. I even saw some posts from people saying that if you’re a Kenyan in the Diaspora, you have no right to comment on anything regarding the elections. This one hurt me personally. But it’s ok, because I didn’t even know what I would say if I were to comment.
Since I’m a Christian, and quite a vocal one when it comes to social media, I could have gone with the #PrayForKenya hashtag, updated my profile picture to the Kenyan flag and talked about how #Tribeless or #TribeAll I am. I could then have added a scripture to it like 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is like the go to verse when there are any kind of “country” issues going on. I thought about doing all these things, multiple times, but there was always this voice at the back of my head telling me that it wasn’t enough. That it wouldn’t make a difference. That there was nothing I could do. And I listened to that voice.
Remember a few days ago when I talked about how God’s promises are true no matter how cliché they might seem? Well, this is what God has been reminding me today. It seems like some semblance of calm has come over Kenya in the last couple of weeks/days. Life is slowly going back to normal with just a few murmurs here and there. But deep down, people are still hurting. Because the disease of tribalism in Kenya is not a shallow. It’s a deep wound that has been festering over many, many years. And it doesn’t seem like it will end soon. You could say, “it will take a miracle.” And that’s what God remind me today through a song. “Don’t give up on the miracle.” God doesn’t change. He is still in the business of performing miracles. So, I’m going to take Him at his word:
II Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV): ‘if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ‘