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The sun sets beneath the hills that are stretched into the distance as I lazily sit on a couch while I enjoy the spectacular view. “No two sunsets are ever the same,” I soliloquise, enamoured by the ever changing hues of the sky, shifting from gold, to pink and eventually, black.

You see, sunsets make me sad for a variety of reasons and sometimes, for no reason at all.
They make me think of another day wasted with procrastination, beating myself up for not studying or doing some other mundane task. They also make me think of the impending doom that is about to befall this world, as the list of events prophesied over an aeon ago are fulfilled one by one. Other times, it simply reminds me that beautiful things are often fleeting at best, and in the end all men must die. I digress, or so it seems, but that is one of the reasons I love Kenya. The sunsets here are beautiful. A liken Kenya to a mother with over forty children, who fight each other for the biggest piece of meat. Some children are stronger than the others, and so they take from their weaker siblings and share major parts among themselves, leaving the rest starving or dissatisfied. So what do the weaker siblings do? They band against their stronger counterparts with the hopes of taking the meat that they possess and making it theirs. All the while, mama Kenya silently weeps and whispers, “This isn’t what I wanted.”

I’ve always thought of running away to some first world country where I’ll have a better chance of living a good life than here. All the goings on that occur on a daily basis have been met with indifference on my part, because I felt that it didn’t concern me. But now I find myself checking the news and looking up on the country’s economy. I’m curious to know who did what and which firm invested where. I get pissed off when politicians threaten to upset the current peace by inciting violence which once upon a time brought mama Kenya to her knees and almost took her to a point of no return.

It took me a while to realise this but…I actually love my country and care about whatever happens to it. Frankly, Kenya is a messed up country, but it is my messed up country. It’s the place where I was born and raised, where I felt love, joy, anger, sadness and pain. It’s a place I call home. When someone you care about is in a bad state, you try your best to rectify them instead of running away and letting them suffer. I believe we are at a critical point in our country’s future and we need to ensure that nothing happens that will jeopardize this future. If we are to pull off a Singapore and become one of the world’s leading economies, then we really need to put mama Kenya’s wishes ahead of our own and share the meat fairly and equitably, so that all siblings may truly love one another and make their mother proud.

Photo Courtesy: MTY Organization

Hey Amedo,

Assalam aleikum,

I would have said Ahmed but then who recognizes you with that name anymore? Haha, you are all grown Mashallah. I hope that’s how it is spelt? The Mashallah I mean and the assalam aleikum up there…haha what do I know anyway? I’m just this old pal from upcountry living in Mombasa. I remember hearing your parents use such phrases so many times…ah, your parents. I miss them, you know that? I wish they could see how grown and smart you are right now. Your parents and I, we had this special kind of relationship. I bet you wouldn’t remember much though. You were just eight when that unfortunate accident happened right? *Sigh*

When I first came to Mombasa twenty years ago, I remember how warmly I was received by your parents into this neighbourhood. I still remember your dad, tall and lean, with such a loud laughter, welcoming me like I was a long-lost brother. Your mother, on the other hand, prepared dinner for both me and my wife that night. “I bet you are tired,” she said in her shy voice. I was a bit puzzled with the reception. We were different people, different tribes, different cultures, different religions…what could have made them so comfortable to bond with us immediately? My wife was a bit suspicious at first. You know, we had heard of rumours about the Mombasa genies and how witchcraft is so common and human sacrifices are made to become ‘viti’. Well, we never even understood what those viti were. As far as we knew it, viti are chairs. Nonetheless, my wife, she was a bit worried at first. But then by the next three to four months, we had interacted with almost the entire neighbourhood. We came to learn that this is just how Mombasa is. Warm and lovely; feels like home. It is why we decided to remain here longer. We decided, this is the best place to raise our children.

After your parents passed away in the accident, your divorced aunt moved in to take care of you and your younger siblings. Your aunt was another very lovely lady. She is charming and full of life; the kind to hear her voice sweeping the compound as she sang famous taarab songs. She is the one who taught my wife how to cook biriani and pilau and all these tasty coasterian foods. I never get enough of these foods.

It was all going well for us until Timmy died. You remember Timmy don’t you? Sometimes I see you walk by my home and I yearn to talk to you, ask you if you remember him, if you remember how you two used to play football together, or how you used to stay up late playing PS until your dad would come force you out of our homestead. If you remember that your birthdays were only two weeks apart and that today, he would be 22 years old like you are. Perhaps that would lessen how much I miss him. But then every time I want to start up a conversation, I see the lines form on your forehead. I see how quick you respond just so as you can leave, how bothered you seem by just calling out your name. I never understand it. Maybe it’s my age; old folk what does he want? Or maybe my skin colour or maybe you just don’t recognize me anymore. Maybe…the maybe’s are endless.

Timmy…my only son, my lovely boy, died ten years ago. Both of you were just twelve years old. My son, he was killed. Do you remember? Do you remember the shrieks of pain? The screams? The tear gas, the fear, the stones, the chaos? Do you remember the 2007 post-election violence? You were young but you couldn’t forget how Timmy died right? Your best friend, your brother from another mother, could you? There was too much smoke, wails, angry protests and there we were, caught up right at the middle of it all. Our neighbourhood had always been peaceful, serene…what was happening now? How could everyone forget our brotherhood so fast? We were among the few “outcasts” in the compound. After more than ten years in Mombasa, we suddenly became “outcasts” because our skin colour was darker, our mother-tongue accent betrayed us and our features were clearly “not of here” and that was enough reason to have knives stabbed into our bodies. Because of my origin, my vote automatically meant someone and some party, and at that point, my tribe betrayed me, betrayed us all. We were robbed and deeply injured that night…but one more thing, we lost our son.

It took me three months to heal my wounds and my wife’s’ but we still have one wound that will always remain a wound; unhealed and it just has one word, Timmy. Your aunt has been there for us, all this time, for better for worse, just like we stood by her side whenever she couldn’t afford some bread to feed you all. But you worry me. You my son, worry me.

I see how opinionated you’ve become. How strong and firm you are. It is good. But yet it could be dangerous. I see you sit with your mates barazani, I see the fury in your eyes, the anger in your tone. I see you young men discuss politics like this is a battle field and you want to win at whatever cost. I see you argue, I see the clenched fists and the tribalistic insults. I see how your friends look at me, how they purposely shout out “Kila mtu arudi kwao” when I pass by. I see how you all are invested so much in politics you forget you are supposed to be friends. I see how some of you have stopped talking to each other because “he is pro-someone” and you are “anti-them”. I see how much belief and trust you have kept towards these politicians.

I know it is your right to have an opinion, to vote and to be politically affiliated. Yet I want to remind you my son, when your parents died, I was the one who came to your home and took you for the next few nights, I want to remind you that Timmy was your friend despite me and your parents having different cultures and political opinions. I want to remind you that when we were stabbed, it was your aunt who washed off the blood in our house. That she was the one who nursed our wounds like she was paid for it.

I want to remind you, that during those ugly, dark moments it wasn’t my favourite politician who stood by me, by us. It wasn’t my tribe, or my mother-tongue accent that helped me through those difficult times. It wasn’t your favourite politician either. It was you and your people. It was my neighbours, my friends, my associations who have totally different opinions from mine. But we knew that friendship or any other form of relationship should never be sold for the sake of dirty politics. This game is too dirty. My son, I see how you and your friends are too aggressive in this whole politics business, remember, the game is too dirty, too cheap for your hands.

I am so proud of who you are, what you’ve become; an educated focused man who wants change. I guess we all need the change, don’t we? Just never forget that no change comes from animosity, rivalry, hatred or stubbornness. Remember that for better for worse, none of the politicians will be at your doorstep to help you with your personal problems other than your personal friends and relations. I need you to never forget the humanity joining us; these small joyful moments we have shared between us all; as neighbours, as brothers, as co-existing human beings, as people of the Coast, whether by nature or nurture, as people of Kenya. Never forget that we are naturally bonded as humans before politics ever divide us.

This coming election, my son, remember my words. Remember that chaos will never beget change. That your voice in the call of peace is important and necessary. Remember to hold your friends close together, in unity and preach to them peace like you preach politics and politicians. Remember my son, no more bloodshed, no more Timmy’s, no more crying over spilled milk. Let’s all hold hands and pray for peace and unity. Remember we are One Kenya, One people. This elections, as you cast your vote (or not), remember peace, peace, peace!! May God protect us all. God bless Kenya!

Your next door neighbour,
Baba Timmy.


 

Photo Courtesy: https://youth4developmentkenya.files.wordpress.com

What is more interesting than standing together for Kenya that is united by all means? What is more interesting than a walk that preaches for peace and propagates for unity of all? The Dumisha Amani Peace Walk is a walk organized by MTY organization in conjunction to both MUHURI and Manyunyu community. It will bring together more than 200 youth to propagate the message of peace and unity. The peace walk shall start at treasury square and it will also entail performances by artists, holding hands pledges, peace mascots, security, media coverage and lots of fun, love and unity. Not signed up yet, text 0705 586 076. CHAGUA AMANI!!

 

 

Because kindness is our only sword to save humanity, here are 13 tiny tales on random acts of kindness…

1. “One evening I was home and was going through my contacts. I saw the name of a woman who used to come at our place for help I just asked myself “You can help this woman by sending a small amount maybe she needs it now.” I did send her some money and I called her to say hi and tell her that I sent something for her. Imagine I couldn’t believe that amount could mean so much to her. She told me her baby was sick and they had nothing to eat at home. That night I cried so much coz of happiness.And I was crying that day coz i got the chance to make someone happy😥😥😥😥😥😥❤ it means the world to see someone happy and crying because of you…”

2. “This one day it was ramadhan… 3 kids came asking for food but there wasn’t anything…so mama wanted to give them food but only a small amount had remained and wouldn’t be enough for all three. Plus he had kept the food aside for my young nephew. My nephew was there so he told mum “I’ll eat with them but right now I am not even hungry. When they come again just give them the food I will fast.”

3. “Back in my madrasa days, there was this ustadh of ours who used to walk from likoni to kibokoni to teach us. He wasn’t well off compared to other teachers but he was the most sweet and helpful of them all. He used to care for us, motivate us,teach us about good morals. So I used to put my break time money in his pocket without him knowing.I did it for weeks I guess unfortunately he caught me one day and asked me, “why you doing this?” I just said “you need it more than I do ustadh.” He just told me you don’t have to do that. You need to eat so that you can grow. He is one of my heroes…

4. “When I was young I had a homeless kid as my best friend. I used to share food with him, play with him, i used to take him home and shower. We didn’t have much back then but I used to share my plate with him. Whenever I go to school I used to take anjera to him under the masjid stairs where he used to live. I used to cry every evening when my mum calls me back home because I loved him and I felt helpless at that time. He was my friend and I couldn’t do anything for him. One day he just got lost.It broke my heart.I mean I don’t know where he went. He wasn’t there under the masjid stairs… We used to dream together. When I came from Madrasa he used to wait for me downstairs then we’d go to the beach just to swim and chill and talk. He wanted to be a pilot and i wanted to own the plane.”

5. “There is that time a classmate was stressing over school fees. He missed out on bursary that term and if he didn’t come up with 10k he couldn’t do the exams. I had 1k in my pocket. You know what I did? That evening when everyone was going home I stood in front them at the gate and pleaded for their help. I was so nervous but everyone was helpful. We managed to come up with 10k. It was amazing.”

6. “I had a close friend; a bit younger than me, but I liked her and considered her like my baby sister… we’d talk quite often. Then came a time we just drifted apart and I couldn’t get to her. She had changed her number I guess. So many moths later, I came to understand of the reason why she’d cut me off (which was actually something beyond both of us). I really cried that day because it was not worth it. I was hurt but then I decided I won’t let my ego take charge. I was going to do something for her which in turn would give me peace in both my heart and soul. I tracked down her new number and sent her an anonymous gift via another friend and we made sure it could never link back to me. Alongside the gift, I wrote a few tiny notes, just motivational ones on life and all for her. Another friend of mine told me of how she had met her on that same day she received the gift and how much she had really cried and said, “she needed to hear those words”. A few days after I sent the gift, she contacted me. I was worried she had found out that I was the one who had sent the gift but that was not the case. She said she had dreamt of me and that I’ve been in her mind lately. So we talked a bit. She contacted me a few days later and we had a longer conversation. She wanted us to be friends like before…and that’s when I mentioned that the gift was from me…I swear her reaction was priceless” (Below is the second party’s version)

7. “It is normal to feel down, lost, unwanted and rejected…well that’s what I was feeling for couple of days until this day when I got a call from some place that I had a parcel.I couldn’t make it that moment so it was a later thing .I went to pick it up.It was a gift from someone I didn’t know who that time, a pair of shoes and pieces of notes that meant world to me. I couldn’t help it, curiosity was at maximum, I read the notes and opened the gift inside the matatu. I cried all the way, I was touched.I was so much thankful, in one way or the other I didn’t expect it from the actual sender,because of some broken issues but there, Alhamdulilah I was really consoled.”

8. “So I was going to Eastleigh with some friends of mine. When we got into the mat, we noticed, every time young school children would come into the mat, they would walk straight to a post to stand and hold on tight. And we started asking each other why they were just standing around the matatu..so I called one of them over and asked why he was standing, and he said he has no fare. And I was shocked. The Eastleigh conductors let kids get on the matatus to get home free of charge, provided they stand though. Although this was nice of them, they didn’t really sit well considering how rough these “manyangas” get driven. Standing in one as an adult is a struggle in itself. So I told all the kids to sit and I would pay for them.When they were getting off, one of them said thank you to me and I honestly felt so nice…”

9. “So two years ago, I lost my scholarship. You can imagine, it was a stressful and depressing moment of my life. It was not just about losing my scholarship but also failing in my studies. It brought a lot of doubts in my head. I could not tell people at home and I seriously had no idea what to do. During those trying moments, four of the many friends I have were really there for me. They put up with my awful moods, my attitude… they encouraged me and help stand up again. I was financially disable and because I did not had the courage to tell people at home what was happening, they took it upon themselves to make sure I have my basic needs, got pocket money and I was having fun. At the same time, one of them held a harambee for my fees for that semester, $750 anonymously. And when I last got the courage to talk to my family about it, they were there and made sure I was okay. If it were not for them, I would have killed myself or worse, stop pursuing my dreams. But they believed in me, and found ways to make me believe in me. I can’t repay them for that and what they continue to do for me to date; but Allah is the Just…am sure He will pay them Justly, thus I pray for that.”

10. “My mother has always been my biggest inspiration to kindness (and maybe this is why parents should really take note on what their children pick from them)…She has done a lot (may Allah reward her with jannah) but one story still touches my heart deeply. A long time ago, we had a male house help. My mother helped him revert to Islam and taught him about Islam. So after some years working with us, his sister dies, leaving two orphans; young boys. So everyday, the house help would come home with them because they didn’t have someone to take care of them except their old grandma. My mum enrolled them into madrasa and after classes he would sit and teach them or let them play around. A time came, the house help left without notice or goodbye. Maybe for greener pastures. But so, the two boys were used to coming home so they’d still come. My mum never told them not to come again since their uncle had done a mistake. She went on to teach them and taking them to madrasa and in the evening they’d go to their grandma. Years later, the house help came back and apologized. He said, “Everywhere I go, I realize there is no human like you. I kept talking about how good you are to all my bosses until they wanted to know who you are. I can never forget how you took care of my nephews despite me leaving without any communication. And if there is any person I can predict paradise for them then it’s you…” To date, the house help still comes back home. He goes to work in other places but he always found his way back home. Oh yeah, and he still has the mashaf (qur’an) mum gave him when he first converted. And he repeats this too many times, “Mum, I can never forget your kindness…”

11. “One day, just after sunset, a boy went out to buy some groceries for his mum. That day’s order though could only be found at the grocery stores near the boarding stage, a fairly distant place. It was on a weekend so most of the grocery shops were closed and the ones that weren’t, we’re out of stock.
“Great. Just great” he thought to himself

After a fruitless search, he was left with a final try that he’d give up after. It was a sizable grocer that stood on the edge of the road a few minutes in from the stage. It was next to a charcoal supply shop characterized by the mixture of finely and pebble sized charcoal spread over that whole section of the road. The grocery’s light illuminated it’s front side just enough to see the set of rigid bricks meant to be the stairs.

As he got closer to the shop, he saw a white figure amidst the sea of ground charcoal. It was curled up into a small shape. People were barely missing their footing on it. A Boda Boda then rode passed it almost running it over. It was a kitten. He walked for the shop and threw his eyes at it once more. It was scared, eyes wide open with fear, frozen, as he watched it exist motionless among the numerous feet and exclamations of passersby and the horns of speedy motorbikes
He walked to the shop. A relief for they had the last batch of his order. He bought in smiles. He also bought a batch of Omena. He took his change and walked back to the kitten. He opened a bag and poured almost all of it just at the edge of the road, called the kitten in that common tongue noise and watched as the life flow back into it, as the fear in its eyes being replaced with wonder, slowly it moved towards the pile of raw fish and pounced at it with gratifying hunger.
He smiled thinking what the kitten must have been thinking at that moment. He fed every cat he saw on his way back that night and left just enough of the batch for those cats that always find their way to their compound. They ate gracefully as well..”

12. “There was this one time I was going to Nairobi just for a day to get some of my things at a friend’s house. But it turned out that he was in Mombasa so I couldn’t stay at his place (he was living at his aunt’s in Nairobi). So he told his other friend (who is also my friend) to receive me. So he calls me and says he’d be my host. I arrive in Nairobi at some minutes past 5 in the morning. It’s cold. And he comes with a taxi. We greet each other and ask how we’ve been (it was a while since I last saw him). Anyway, he’s like “you know, I won’t take you to my room. Let’s go to a hotel.” I was like “okay!😄” and the taxi drops us off at Eastleigh where we start walking around looking for a hotel. It was still dark and we are alone so I was slightly apprehensive.

All of the hotels were fully booked, I was kinda bummed out coz I was becoming tired and dragging that luggage was becoming a pain. But we finally found a room, it was just from being checked out and we had to wait for 20 minutes for it to be cleaned out for us. But it was kinda expensive (for a student). My friend had to pay 5k for one night. So I was kinda worried and said “dude are you sure? If it’s gonna inconvenience you it’s okay we can just stay at your messy room” And he said, “I’m doing this for the sake of Allah. I believe that if I spend it on others in a good way, He’ll give me more in return” Naturally I was touched by this, so I agreed and made a silent prayer for him that he succeeds in this life and the next. We spent the day roaming around town while he treated me to lunch. It was a really good day, and I promised myself that I would never forget his kindness and that I would repay him somehow in the future. The hotel is called regent hotel or something. It was really really nice. The room had dstv and all that. Plus it was big; Double bed room. Weh I felt like a prince. I keep remembering him. Still haven’t come round to making it up to him. But I pray for him well.”

13. “There was a time at my workplace, an old man came by to have his phone checked for repair. So I usually work upstairs and it was only by chance I came down and saw him standing; confused. He was really old, frail and weak. So I asked him what he needed and he said he wanted his phone repaired soonest, that he needed it immediately if possible because he was sick and some relatives kept sending him some money to help him around. I took the phone and handed it to the one in charge, who agreed to check it out immediately. After the phone was repaired, I took it to the old man who was really relieved. I then gave him 1k and told him, “I hope this helps you…” The man was really really grateful. He said lots of prayers for me then left and I thought that was the end of the story.

The next day, he came to the office again, but since I was upstairs and didn’t know my name, he couldn’t find me. He tried asking about me but my workmates didn’t understand whom he was talking about. The following day he came once again and my workmate decided to ask me if I knew the old man. Going downstairs, it was him. He said he came to thank me once again. That from the money I gave him he got to book a ticket to Kisumu, back to his family. He asked for my number and promised to send me omena and unga from there. He then said, “Because of what you’ve done i’ll become a Muslim.”I just thought it was a by the way but when he got there he did call me to say he arrived safely. After a few days he called again just to greet me. Then on another day, his son was the one who called to say that his father was in hospital and had requested to talk to me. We talked and his voice seemed so frail and weak.

A few days later, fajr time I received a call from his son; the old man had passed away. But he had left a message for me. That he wants to be buried in a plain white cloth without the coffin (sanda). I asked his son, “Had he converted to Islam?” He said, “There was a time he requested that we bring a sheikh to him, so there is that probability.” I decided to ask the son to go to the nearest mosque and let me talk to the imam, of which I did and we had arrangements that he is buried in Islam. Even after his death, his family members called, thanked me and still wanted to send me the omena and unga as promised by the old man but I didn’t see the need so I rejected politely. Nonetheless, I really hope that the man did indeed die a Muslim…”

Dear You…If you can’t find any good in this world, then be the one to do it. It doesn’t have to be ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ or ‘Maria Theresa’ big, it just has to be sincere. Do good to people. Try everyday. Make it a habit. A routine. Be kind. Be kind again and again. Making a difference in just one life is invaluable so never underestimate the effect of your actions and words.

Great appreciation to those who sent in their tales. God bless you…

You are welcome to comment any other stories of kindness below here 😉