WATCH IT KENYANS: TEN ISN’T JUST A NUMBER.

(We are all taught what is known, but we rarely learn about what is not known, and we almost never know about the knowable.)

Imagine I had to stop what I was doing to start working on this article. 

I had to stop watching my favorite TV show, WWE, switch off the television and start writing this article. 

I know you are busy and I’m not going to ask you to take a minute or two of your time to read this article. 

And telling you what I had to stop doing in order to write this article isn’t a way of “requesting” you to stop for a little while to read this. But then again, I plead with you to take your time and read through. Please don’t  scroll through like you always do to the common “online business opportunities” posts that these days are all over in all the social media platforms. They are disgusting. I also know that. Someone convincing you that you could make US$ 600 or even more every week at the comfort of your couch without any serious academic qualifications is nauseating. And what makes it even more ghastly is the part that if you decide to do the follow up, I mean, attending the interview, which is when you begin to know that life is really hard out there. The interviewers, who also claim to be your trainers, look more gaunt and weak. You would think they haven’t had a proper meal in days. And yet they claim to be earning hundreds of dollars per week. One word for the posts again, DISGUSTING.

In the year 2007, Facebook was not much fashionable in Kenya as it is right now. Only a few people knew what it was. Twitter, Oh no! I doubt if you knew what it was. My country had few bloggers. In fact, I cannot be able to mention their names because I don’t have any. Perhaps it is because I was young. I mean, what could a form one student in a lowly village secondary school know about internet and blogging? Anyway, I was not that bad with the technology. My dad, back in 2004, used to own a phone. He was one of the few people in my village who used to own a phone. He could let me and my step brother use it.  He taught us how to use a mobile phone. We were the only young boys in the whole village who knew how to check balance, top up, make and receive a call and even send a text message. Thanks to my dad’s Nokia 3310 mobile phone. That tells you that I was not bad with the technology. I only lacked the opportunity. And so were many Kenyans.

My country today is very different. About 50% of the population is getting access to internet. Kenyans are on Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp, instagram, snapchat, WeChat and other social media platforms. And today, a very big fraction of the world’s population is using Facebook and Twitter. And I’m very sure that my nine year old nephew is soon joining Facebook. He knows where to find his favorite games online. He downloads games from sites that I have never even heard of. What I’m trying to say is that this boy understands internet really good. And what is my point? My point is, come 2017, about 80% of my country’s population will be on Facebook. And that will include my little nephew’s age group. We shall have hundreds of bloggers. Well, try to imagine the kind of world we are living in today. It is a very interesting one. We are living in a world where people are posting online everything that is happening in our lives. Some even post online to let the world know they are about to poop. It happens. Most of the time. This is a kind of generation that will take pictures of a drowning person, share them online and then sit down to wait for likes and comments from their friends and followers instead of jumping into the water to help. In fact, the best way of knowing how your kid is doing, that is if you are a man and you hate responsibility, here is what to do: Impregnate. Deny the pregnancy. Of course she will walk away and decide to raise the kid alone. Follow her on Facebook because she will be posting everything about the kid. Everything including the day the kid will be making his/her first steps. NOTE: Only Stupid Men Do That. That is what internet can do. And I’m not just talking about the social media. In 2007, there used to be a few Television and radio stations in Kenya unlike today. Today, we are having many local radio and television stations. Some of which broadcast in local languages. We’ve moved so fast.

Internet use in Kenya. People today are more connected than how it used to be a decade ago.

Well, in 2007, we had elections and the whole world knows what happened after the elections. Innocent lives were lost, women were raped, churches were burnt and many people became refugees in their own land. These were as a result of disputing the election results. And we all know that six citizens of this country were named suspects of the 2007/2008 post elections’ violence. And almost a decade later, the office of the prosecution of The International Criminal Court failed to confirm that they had crimes against humanity to answer to. Reason: Distortion of witnesses. What the survivors of the post elections’ violence say they went through during that time is so saddening, painful and nasty. Some of us did not get to see what happened. This is because media houses were not able to cover many things. Media houses during that time were like the police units. Known for arriving at the crime scenes late. And only a few households had access to Radio and Television receivers. Internet, as I had said in the earlier, was a thing for only a small group of people.

Try to imagine what our internet revolutionized world would be. People sharing online the pictures and videos of the killings during the post elections’ violence. People sharing their thoughts during that time in the social media platforms. Imagine watching a video of a fellow citizen being beheaded. Or even a video of your fellow citizen being raped or being tortured. Or a video of a known political leader spreading words of hate against certain ethnic community. And this is where my beloved country is headed to. 

The posts of hate doing round in the social media don’t just facilitate tribalism in my country. They also prepare Kenyans for the upcoming elections. Our political leaders today make careless utterances. Speeches from the ones about the foreskin to the ones giving stun orders to a certain ethnic community to leave a certain region as fast as possible. Seriously, since when did the governance of a country start to relate to the presence or absence of one’s foreskin? That the uncircumcised are unclean and not brave enough to lead. I hope to someday publish a research paper on this issue.

We all must be careful especially with how we use the social media. The thoughts we share, the videos, audios and pictures we share can perpetuate hate amongst the citizens. Elections come and go. And another thing we should all know is that this country is bigger than individuals. 

After the post elections’ violence, we all know, only six were named suspects after hundreds of lives were lost. Hundreds of citizens became internally displaced. Our economy collapsed. Even up to now we are still feeling the effects of the post elections’ violence. My head of state at some point said that no Kenyan will ever appear in front of the ICC judges again. How I wish this becomes true. I want to live in a peaceful nation. I want to travel freely in all parts of my country. Tribalism is our major undoing. But what is facilitating it? Hate speeches. Yes. Careless utterances. Some of my countrymen think that this is one of the ways of politicking. It is not. Some institutions are encouraging Kenyans to ignore such utterances. How? I really don’t know how. Let us not leave the fight against tribalism and hate to certain institutions. Let us use the social media to promote peace, national cohesion and integration. I know it feels sweet to defend your tribesman but come on my fellow patriot, if someone is wrong they are wrong and they need to be told that they are wrong. Tell them. Let us put this to an end.

 if someone is wrong they are wrong and they need to be told that they are wrong

Let us put our house in order as we prepare for the next general elections. And one thing we all need to know is that politics is young men dying and old men talking and dining together. Tell me of a politician who died in the 07/08 post elections’ violence when poor wananchi lost their lives. They say things that make us turn against one another and yet you will see them in the televisions sharing same tables. Shaking hands and referring to one another as brothers and friends. And I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes.  One by Abraham Lincoln, “Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong.”


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