At work we have this thing where every Monday morning we give 'reasons to dance'. Everyone is supposed to share something good that is going on in their life... and being a Monday morning, the most common response is usually, "I had a great weekend."
This week though, my reason to dance was Mashujaa Day. With only one other Kenyan in the room, this was met with blank stares. I don't consider myself terribly patriotic. Heck, most of the time I do not consciously identify as Kenya. I am Ivy, simple. However, of late I have been increasingly thinking of myself as a Kenyan. This is probably because I have been confronted with my Kenyan-ness. My Kenyan accent, my Kenyan aggressiveness, my (Kenyan?) hairstyle.
I am proud to belong to this unique country, whose strong population finds a way to survive despite everything. I know that there is a lot to be ashamed of: a government that has miraculously managed to undo years of economic development; blatant corruption; complete disregard for the future of young people; and widespread, highly accepted ignorance. However, there is still a lot to say for the people who remain on a mission to civilize.
I cannot lose hope in this country. I need only think of my mother, who teaches students who have had such a poor educational background that finding that one C student is a miracle... but she still gives them her all. I think of the dozens of people who I have met in the past few months who are solving some of society's largest problems by starting businesses... who are entrepreneuring their way around inadequate access to virtually everything: healthcare, energy, education, information, transport, employment. I think of the brilliant young men and women I recently completed school with who will go on to do great things. I think of a Central Bank Governor who does not see the correlation between his post and living in a huge mansion in Muthaiga. Who knows that having a fleet of cars at his disposal has no relation to taming the depreciating currency.
'Shujaa' is a big word. It suggests grand feats, a mask, a batmobile, and a shitload of money. Heroes are important, as are their courageous acts. However, the people doing the little things, day in, day out are important as well. They are the ones that inspire the heroes... and they are the ones that make me believe that Kenya will be okay. We will get through credit crunches, Ksh. 40000 soaps and Kshs. 100,000 wheelbarrows. The devil is a liar, after all.