I do not consider myself a proud Kenyan nor do I say, ‘Navumilia kuwa Mkenya’. Let’s just say, Kenya has its moments. More like a love-hate relationship filled with spontaneous mood swings; 0-100 real quick! There’s a lot to be sad about and even more to be angry for. I mean, we are the kind of country whereby you study four years of Journalism only to spend the next three years searching for a job in the media while a comedian ends up swooping that same job you’ve been craving at a radio station. To be fair, the comedians also struggle in their own way to get where they get to but it becomes illogical when these opportunities are not fairly and equally spread out among the masses. Definitely, ours is the ‘survival is for the fittest’ kind of economy whereby the resources are so limited, we are all trying to grab this one opportunity available.
It is that kind of country you graduate Engineering with honours but end up selling water within your neighbourhood, or even worse, you have to stand with a placard at the middle of the highway, stating your qualifications so that hopefully, JUST HOPEFULLY, someone isn’t too busy complaining about the traffic jam or the poor water drainage system and reads your placard. Thereafter, this someone is placed within his/her the grace of the Lord and decides to help you in some way. Or rather, take your photo and tweet about it. The power of social media I tell you!
It is also the kind of country where someone with no education whatsoever could end up being more successful than you’d ever dream to be because they know someone who knows someone who is in power or, they are super talented at sucking money out of people’s bank accounts in open day light. Yes, corruption and conning is in our country, a job of its own calibre. I am still talking of the unemployment disaster because it is really really bad out here. I mean, REALLY bad.
Now don’t get me started on the cost of living, the economy, the health industry, the plight of the lower class, the struggles of the youth…the list is endless. Kenyans are sufferers; at least the majority are. A few months back, the form fours completed their final examinations with shouts and screams of joy, spraying the walls and their uniform with colours; they just ended what they call ‘a stressful era’ and all Kenyans can think of is ‘Should we tell them the truth or should we wait wapumzike? *Insert many laughing emojis*’ I mean, that alone says a lot about the despair Kenyans are at. We are mostly hopeless of our country than we are hopeful.
But here’s the thing about Kenyans: we are the most resilient beings. It amazes me. It awes me. Kenyans make fun of their own misery such that it gives them strength to actually push on to the next day. Kenyans live on the spirit, ‘Our lives are so much a tragedy, it has become a comedy.’ We laugh a lot. We perhaps make the best come-backs, best replies on twitter and memes of every other event that happens. We make jokes about our ridiculous leaders. We joke about the cost of living. We joke when we are robbed, singing ‘bella Ciao’ like a bank didn’t just lose millions. We joke when we cry. We joke when we succeed. We joke when we fail and when everything seems to be at dead end. People would call us insane just by the way we react with laughter at E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Yet in my opinion, this kind of spirit is what makes Kenyans stand tall and walk through the storm despite the odds. We laugh because despite saying ‘this is life’, we still wake up the next morning to try again, make protests and demands on the streets, make noise, call out to the leaders, fail, fail miserably, yet we will do it again next morning.
Amidst all the despair and hopelessness, we create our own happiness. We see a man eating his githeri from a plastic bag throwing them into his mouth like groundnuts whilst waiting in queue to vote, and we decide ‘hey! That is something!’ And there came about the hashtag #GitheriMan who ended up uniting and bringing us laughter at a very tense period. We all tune in on TV to watch Eliud Kipchoge take on the ‘No Human is Limited’ challenge and we all leave everything aside, to watch history being made. To watch a fellow Kenyan shine because God knows, we desperately need a win. Soon after, we make ‘No Human is Limited’ memes because we are Kenyans and we thrive on laughter. We see our president look up in the sky at the planes being displayed during Mashujaa day at the revamped mama Ngina drive and we decide to quote it as ‘Na hii hapa juu, Mheshimiwa Rais, ni gharama ya maisha *Insert laughing emojis*’ We still retweet hilarious posts by fellow Kenyans with the hashtag #KenyaSihamiiii. We stand together with King Kaka as he performs his #WajingaNyinyi spoken word, giving us all something to ponder on.
We come together to mourn during tragedies and we celebrate our fellow Kenyans whenever we get a chance to. We left all our differences aside when Miriam Kighenda and her 4-year old daughter drowned at the Likoni Ferry tragedy, we prayed for them and mourned the loss. When the Ethiopian airlines crashed, we were devastated. The loss was unfathomable and we cried together. Just as much as we come together every Olympics and marathons to celebrate our very talented athletes, breaking records every now and then.
I don’t think we are at a good place as a country. The misery definitely supersedes the good done for Kenyans. However, we can’t close our eyes to how brilliant and strong Kenyans are. We fall, again and again and again. But we always, always find a way to survive. We innovate. We come together. We stand up for our rights. We make demands. We start our own businesses. We hope despite the hopelessness. We help when we can. We make a difference in our communities. Yet most importantly, we have learned how to find laughter even in the darkest of moments.
Life is definitely tough, not just for Kenyans but many other Africans as well. Politics is a dirty game. Our leaders are mostly a huge fail. Opportunities are like a blue moon. But if resilience was a human being, then Kenyans would be it!
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