Yes, you can also be a Mau Mau - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 22 October 2021

Yes, you can also be a Mau Mau


Nobody cares about the Mau Mau any more. Or their deeds of exceptional courage and sacrifice. Or their touchingly naïve dreams of a free and prosperous homeland. Or the fact that some of them were massacred by a post-colonial government. Or that not even the so-called “clean” leaders of that age caused much of a stink when it happened in 1964. 

Or that the Mau Mau were disinherited and the quislings rewarded. Or that the victory of the Mau Mau was appropriated by the traitors, collaborators and cowards and the Mau Mau became the villains as traitors, collaborators and cowards the heroes. Or that the collaborator state — located in a desert of ideology, patriotism and leadership sacrifice but built on a foundation of tribalism and greed — failed.

I have taken an oath to speak no more of the Mau Mau. But before it comes into effect, I want to honour Field Marshall Baimungi, General Mwariama, Major Ruku and thousands of their comrades who shed blood so that the collaborators could win a nation to plunder. I’ll do that by imagining, from my little knowledge, what these brave men and women thought the African Republic of Kenya would be once the colony was liberated and a new nation created. What could have been the dream? 

The true heroes are those who work to achieve that dream. One, a warm, welcoming homeland for the African tribesman, which s/he owns and where s/he feels at home and accepted. A homeland restored our ownership of our identity and our ancient claim to this space.

Two, freedom. The unfettered right to be an African tribesman, to choose what you want to be called, what you want to be, where you want to live, with whom, to do what you wish within the laws you have made, not the ones made for you by the settler. The right to be a man or a woman in accordance with your understanding of what a man or woman is as opposed to a definition developed and imposed by an alien culture.

Three, equality. As an African in a colonial state, even your claim to being human was not universally embraced. Freedom meant equal recognition and respect for human rights as an umbrella that covered us too. Equal access to the state, its protection and resources. Equality of opportunity for every child, their race notwithstanding. Equality before the law so that no man has the right, because of the colour of his skin, to take a rifle and hunt another for sport; so that no person is treated as existing outside of the protection of the law.

The right of every man and woman to be the DC of their household and their lives. You are the ruler of your household and your life. What you do with them is your business and not the business of your relatives or the state. It is your right and your affair to be unusual, unconventional or whichever way you want to be. It is your right to be gay, straight or to fall in love with the moon if that is what you like.

Four, an open society that is fair, just and welcoming to all, including to those who are oppressed or insecure in their own homelands or those who seek a better life or opportunity on our shores; a safe harbour for those who have big ideas and money to spend. Because we have been badly treated and insecure in our homes, we can never turn our backs to those who have been equally victimised.

Five, a brotherhood of Africans. You cannot enjoy your rich meal if your brother is going to bed hungry. Emperor Haile Selassie opened the doors of his palaces to a bunch of Africans who went to his land for help to free themselves. He gave us guns and he trained the Africa National Congress. I am sure those Mau Mau lads saw Kenya as a nation that would help other Africans, not one that enslaved or exploited them.

Six, prosperity. Poverty is dehumanising, it prevents one from experiencing the full range of the benefits of being human. At independence, Jomo Kenyatta, rather powerfully, spoke of the need to free the African from the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance. Securing the prosperity of individuals, communities and country is the stuff of legends.

Seven, security. I imagine now that we won this space back, our ancestors expected that we would hold it for our children and our children’s children after them. The protection of country, its identity and welfare is not a job for the government, I think. It is the job of its true owners, the men and women who live in it. Yes, some protect it with guns, others protect it from hunger with their hands. It’s not illiberal, neither is it right wing or “pro-government” to have this shared sense of communal welfare. A hundred years ago, there was little specialisation: you were the army, and most probably the farmer and vet too on top of your family duties. Now that we can only do one thing does not mean we don’t have a stake in the other things that are happening in our communities. A shared sense of responsibility is what makes strong citizens and strong citizens make strong communities and countries.

So, you can be Mau Mau too. Without the dreadlocks and the weed.    BY  DAILY NATION  

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