– Wrote this with my friend, Alaka back in 2012 but got too busy to post it back then. It’s been edited slightly to match this post. –
Recently, I got to watch two life-changing documentaries. One is Pray the Devil Back to Hell, about the 14-year civil war in Liberia and the role of a group of women in trying to end it. The other is Heal the Nation, by Boniface Mwangi and the Picha Mtaani team, which is about the violence which erupted in Kenya after the general elections in 2007, which tells a sad, shameful, alarming and heartbreaking story that I cannot describe well enough. Please watch it.
I love my country but occurrences like the PEV (post-election violence) in Kenya and civil wars elsewhere make me sometimes question humanity. How easily friend can turn on friend. How people can be so blinded by rage and hate as to kill, rape, plunder and destroy for the sake of a few rich men and women.
In this country Kenya we tend to whine and cuss in the comfort of our living rooms, coffee shops, kiosks, kibandas and bars but it ends there. We forget too easily and move on with our lives too quickly when all the while people are suffering. Honestly, I am one of those Kenyans who had thought that it was over and that there’s no way it could happen again. But it seems I’m wrong. There are people in our midst who are in pain and continue to harbour ill will toward their neighbors. It is worrying to say the least. In Heal the Nation Boniface Mwangi says: “We want people to be fired up, to go out & change the world”. Well, I was fired up. When you see images from the war in Liberia, it makes you realize how close Kenya is/was to civil war and it’s terrifying.
So I slept. I woke up. I cleaned then took a walk. It wasn’t a deep introspective walk. I was just going to buy airtime, yoh. But it was during this walk that I found myself looking at my surroundings, at this country, through new eyes. Foreigners who have been to Kenya will tell you that we have one of the most beautiful countries in the world. When we interact, we talk a lot and we laugh a lot. But here I was walking, thinking to myself: This guy passing by me, what role did he play in the PEV? This woman from whom I’m buying the airtime, how was she affected by the PEV? Come election-time in 2013, will my neighbors from diverse backgrounds turn on me? Will this beautiful scenery of hills and trees turn into one of smoke and fire? What is the state of mind of these people who’ve been raped and displaced, who’ve probably watched their families hacked or torched to death and have lost everything? Will they seek revenge? Will they be baying for blood in 2013? I struggled with this and more, trying to figure out how I can help preach peace in this country as Boniface Mwangi and the Picha Mtaani team do, and as the fearless women of Liberia did to end their country’s civil war.
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So now we’ve come up with this design to pass a message of love and peace. If we allow hatred and tribalism to engulf us, we will loose one of the best countries in the world to war. So let’s preach peace to our family and friends, to the mama mboga, to the watchman kila mtu. Let’s do it before, during & after the March 4th elections. Whatever the outcome is, we remain Kenyans and like Jua Cali said recently ‘Hatutaki kua wakimbizi kwa nchi geni’ or something to that effect.
Remember: Hii Kenya ni yetu and we all have a role to play in it’s prosperity or it’s demise either by our participation or by our silence. The choice is ours.
This design will be available as a t-shirt, poster and sticker. To make your orders, send us an email here chillimangodesigns [at] gmail [dot] com.