The Crying Stone in KakamegaSo today I carry on about my trip to Western Kenya. Part 1 was in yesterday’s post which you can read on this link http://bit.ly/tbe9DK
Now way back in 2005 when I was a young girl, i.e. unmarried and without child, I had the opportunity of working in Kakamega, the land of the bull-fighters. The land of the beautiful crying stone. Home to the lovely Kakamega forest. Murembe vossssss ya’ll!
Sadly though, I never got used to that place and I resisted all attempts to settle in. And therein lies the tragedy with most, if not all, of we born and bred Nairobian’s, because we are so used to life in Nairobi, such that we find it very difficult to adjust to the seemingly slow-paced life of other towns in the country.
So as I worked in Kakamega I religiously made the journey back to Nairobi every weekend, travelling on those dreaded Naivasha-Nakuru, Kericho Kisumu, and Kisumu –Kakamega roads just to be home, home to my mum’s warmth, sumptuous food and comfortable accommodation. I wonder why my back never broke because travelling on those roads those days was such a harrowing experience as they were the most pothole ridden and rough roads that ever existed.
And so after 6 months of shuttling to and fro and being in denial about being in a town that was not Nairobi, I called it quits. I called it quits because besides refusing to settle in, I would spend my entire salary on the transport to and from Nairobi, and on accommodation because I was living in a guest house there. I didn’t want to rent an apartment because it would mean purchasing furniture, beddings, curtains, kitchen utensils etcetera etcetera and this was just too much work (oh, the days of being young and a free spirit without much responsibilities).
So in December 2005, I threw in the towel, having been very tired and worn out, and vowing NEVER to return to Western Kenya. Haaaaaa If only I knew! Well, I’m now eating humble pie (and lots of it) as I have found myself voluntarily and happily trotting back to Western. The same Western that I vowed never to return. This thing called love I tell you! Anyone else ever been humbled by love like me? Feel free to join me in the humble pie lounge. Karibu sana, there’s lots of space here.
So anyway, back to last weekend’s trip to Western. Like I had mentioned yesterday, my relatives from Central province had been invited to visit my new home in Western. And there are a couple of things that I was told, I heard, and experienced, some of which I knew in theory, but I got to experience them practically or they got re-emphasized during the trip. And they are:
– While other people are still resisting inter-tribal affairs, the rest of us have moved on and are making the most of our diversity and cultural differences, adapting to the variety that is our multicultural society. And we’re loving it lots.
– Inter-tribal marriages enable people to travel to areas they otherwise never would have. I have relatives who had never imagined they would ever reach Bungoma. They have no relatives there, no business interests there, have never taken their kids to school there –there is absolutely nothing that would ever have taken them there.
– Inter-tribal affairs and interactions are a good learning experience. It’s just some of those things you can never be taught in school. You practically learn about other people and their cultures –and how different but yet how similar we are.
– With inter-tribal marriages, and with an open mind, you begin challenge your own mindsets and values as an individual. Long held notions and stereotypes, myths and misconceptions that you’ve always had about other people begin appearing doubtful.
– When you have an open mind, inter-tribal interactions can broaden your views about life. And broaden your views about love. And it can make you eat lots of humble pie.
– This has been told to me before, and it keeps being re-emphasized during such functions, and it’s not necessarily about inter-tribal marriages but cuts across all tribes I guess. That family is very important. And that in Africa, you don’t marry someone. You marry a clan. Marriage, especially in Africa, is never a one man-one woman affair.
– Children are a blessing. My relatives kept telling my mum that were it not for her child, they would never have travelled that far in their entire lifetime. They wished more of their children would inter-marry so that they can get to interact closely again with families from other parts of the country they have never been to –and not only Central and Western.
– And lastly, we all know that tribal issues have always been a very sensitive topic in our county. And it has been said over and over again, but I repeat that inter tribal marriages will go a long way in solving people’s intolerance to other tribes, and having this belief that one’s own tribe is more superior than all others.
And to quote Mama Shani who told me, “There is a new generation of Kenyans coming up that is tribeless, they are just Kenyans who appreciate their backgrounds”.
Children such as Shani, Kitty, Zoe, Azizi, Renee, Tutu, Levi, Wema, Faith, Alexia, Jeanelle, Michelle, Jeremy…..
I think if we had embraced inter-tribal marriages since we got independence, we would not be having many of the problems that we have today. We would not be listening to the shameful, hateful and inciteful comments made by some of our political leaders. Maybe they wouldn’t even have been making them in the first place.
What I have learnt is that if you find true love, with whomever it is, then don’t let tribal differences stand in your way. Otherwise you may never move forward as an individual and we will never move forward as a nation.
I salute the efforts of Boniface Mwangi of Picha Mtaani and 2008 CNN Photojournalist of the Year recipient in his efforts in towards this specific regard. He has produced a documentary titled ‘Heal the Nation’, which you can find on this link http://bit.ly/sAiTWb. Take time to watch it if you can. PS: Viewer discretion is advised.