Monday, March 11, 2013

Tuko Pamoja

Dedan Kimathi

I am trying to get back to that irie space I was feeling a few days ago, so just some positive music and some restful vibes.

A few days after the last election, I wrote an op ed in the Boston Globe called Moving Forward in Kenya. In January 2008, these were my words.

For hundreds of years, 42 ethnic and linguistic groups have lived peacefully together in Kenya, with high rates of intermarriage, trade, and in-migration. This violence [referring to the violence of the 2007 election] obscures deep social inequities in economic distribution that cross ethnic lines among all groups.

For 40 years, Kenya has been as a haven for refugees and a broker for peace settlements, avoiding the type of wrenching violence that has torn neighbors Sudan, Rwanda, and Somalia apart while earning a reputation as the most democratic nation in the region. Without immediate efforts toward national reconciliation [. . . ] Kenya risks descent into autocracy and civil war.

A few days after the 2013 election, I am grateful to Baba Mungu that my words today are happier. During the election period, I looked at my own family. We do not comprise 42 groups, but we represent many sides of this great nation. I looked at my office, and I looked at my sister in law, and I said, you know what, in our family, we have nchi mzima: the whole nation. My mother, a Kikuyu, married an mzungu (a white American). One of my aunts married a Kamba. My cousin married an African American who is Jewish. My husband is technically Kikuyu, but was raised on the coast. His brothers are Muslim, and are married to Wanawake waswahili. My children's last name is Ngaruiya, which means they have Maasai blood. 

So in my immediate family, we have Jews, Christians and Muslims. In terms of communities, we have

Kizungu (white)
and our chief officer manager is a Kao!

You know what the phrase I heard the most during this election period was?  "Tuko Pamoja". Yes, that is right, we are together. Because at the end of the day, as a people, as African people, as Kenyan people, as the diaspora, as people of different languages, communities, and histories we did this together. Whatever else you have to say about technological failures or court cases or the ICC, we got through this election peacefully, and that, my friends, is worth celebrating.

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