#3: In My Opinion

I may be a moderate liberal (and this too could be a false consolation to ward off the sense of guilt that comes with a childhood swaddled in conservative religious affiliations – a story for another day, though), but I also believe that one’s mind – so long as it has a living breathing conscience lying in there somewhere in there – can only be opened so far or wide. Let me rant a little on this.

Life is not an art. There, I said it. If anything, it’s more like a rate card with special dispensations decided on by a big Momager (Mom + Manager) figure whose next decision is as unpredictable as Nairobi weather post global warming. It’s okay to be a free thinker, but how far that freedom stretches is an important factor to consider. In this particular case, I am making reference to  several circumstances at once: everyday living, taking risks, making investment choices, parenting, making career choices, etc.

Moderation is healthy and I live by this mantra, but I also think life should have remained a simple affair for a lot longer than it did. Fly with me past the industrial revolution, the first vote cast by a woman and the first black (ahem, coloured) president in a first while country populated majorly by the fairer race. Now draw your magnifying glass closer to the African continent. At the pointy East corner, move to the left a little and stop at Kenya.

We have written essays and papers on the negative effects of urbanization and globalization, but it isn’t enough to simply write and present in front of flashing cameras. I would know because I live in Africa’s Silicon Valley. I have endured the 8.4.4. system of education. I have read a bunch of Kenyan policies. I was a young adult when we got a new constitution. Our policies rock on paper, but sometimes implementation comes to Kenya to die. Which explains why so few of us know about our history as comprehensively as we do about the climatic patterns, vegetative zones and presidential order of countries in the West.

I’d like to brag and say something along the lines of “black supremacy”, but I also think we’re all simply human. As Shylock said, we are warmed and cooled by the same Summer and Winter and when we prick us we (all) bleed. However, I am going to berate my people for allowing some of the problems that plague us to have even started taking root while we watched and did not, at first, and then joined in the melee.

White culture is different. Different is not bad, but different is not mine. So I feel sad when I look at the new whorish reputation that our sun kissed coastal region has developed. I feel bad that our kids dress like “young professionals” in the 1960s when disco was the new black and college was the phase of sexual experimentation. It saddens me that our younger children lie on carpets indoors fattening themselves on sweet and greasy snacks while they are babysat with DSTV and video games. It sickens me that we can air and promote extramarital affairs, high five on the same with our married and engaged friends, and watch mournfully as prime time news reports that HIV infections are on the increase especially in marriages. It worries me that it’s more excusable to get a divorce or a child out of wedlock (intentionally). It also saddens me, as a healthcare professional, that our lifestyle diseases are on the increase and that the trend is likely to get worse – yet all our supermarkets now offer us greasy “home cooked” meals (whose home is this, by the way?) and the fast food joints are cropping out of every part of town and mushrooming in estates too.

Now, all this comes from a kid in her 20s who loves classical music, is a self professed tom boy and a liking for the English language (and German), but that is not the point. That’s just me including myself in the blame equation. All I am saying is that we need to stop and think about our everyday choices as country and why we became so passive about what happens to us. Not just for ourselves, but also for the sake of our seemingly doomed future. Because if the current apathy is anything to go by, the future is a dark cesspool of confusion. And I use “confusion” here rather loosely.

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