Google doodle above stolen (shamelessly and with permission, of course) from Kui’s blog – I am only doing this cos I could never duplicate the envy (and jealousy) I am feeling right about now – and I am trying to show off (that I know people (Kenyans) in KBW that can do things like this – 😀 ). LOL When google decideds to sue Kui for infringement of one or two copyright laws, she is by extension naming me and you can all be ready to have banners and placards on your sites with ‘Free MJY and Guess – they are KBW members’ on your blogs. (Thanks MJY)
This is a collective comment to all the blogs that marked this day – just because I didn’t comment on your post doesn’t mean I didn’t read it – I read all of them, with pride. And as one of the bloggers noted today, for the non-bloggers who lurk or comment – go on, get blogging. We love your participation but we also want to participate in your blogs too
Today has been a good day, a truly marvellous day if I can be honest. Since I got into work this morning, I have been camped at the Aggregator (and collected four viruses on my work computer for my enthusiams – those Northern geeks are going to town on my Internet usage at work, wait till morrow) to read all the new posts about Kenya and Madaraka Day – and to be honest I wasn’t disappointed; on the contrary – I have had my heart swell, palpitate, tears threaten to spill, my patriotic side pulled to the fore, laughed at funny ties, gushed at beautiful voices singing, gone green with envy over a doodled Google logo, seen beautiful pictures of Kenya, listened to a dead man talking to me about the white man not having priority over a black person when they are sick, sang the national anthem (to the Acrobat on the phone – sorry dude, my singing is to be henceforth confined to the bathroom) read the dissenting voices, heard people who aren’t Kenyans praising Kenya, learnt about music and musicians I have never heard of or know about, learnt that running around in this rat race we call life doesn’t make me a rat; but I am still in the race, discovered other displaced Kenyans, smiled mischievously at the mention of lovely Kenyan ‘chicks’, wondered about the ratio of birth to death rate of goats in Kenya (don’t tell me you never wondered about that too) and just laughed and clapped and sang and felt like life was good all over again.
In short, I realised that I am not alone, and went 360 degrees round the bend dancing.
And that was before my 1200hrs lunch break.
(Major digression, give me a minute please)
With my stiff upper lip and downcast eyes, I went to the supermarket (Sainsbury’s local) to get my daily dose of the Guardian, a Lucozade Orange and some chewing gum, while waiting for my friendly Italian deli to make me lunch (those guys are the best, they know me by name, and if I could be broke enough to ask for credit, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid). In my ‘local’ local there are these Black women who work at the cashiers’ desks who always gush at my braids – I always have to explain, on different days to different people, that I had them done in Kenya – and they invariably turn green – not sure if it’s the braids or the fact that they were done in Kenya.
Anyway, one day I get to this lady that asks the same question, and when I tell her that I had them done in Kenya, she goes: Oh I am Kenyan too. And that did it, we chatted a little bit and that was that. During the busy City lunch hour, you don’t have the time to run around reminiscing about home so I always just wave or say hello when she is on duty.
Today, I was behind the dude that went to her register, so I went to the other lady waay over near the back – she (K) had noticed me, smiled and waved. As I left through the back doors, I thought to myself: This is Madaraka day, shouldn’t I go over and say hello and wish her a good day? Isn’t that the spirit of the day?
So I go through the front doors and wait as she serves a customer. She says hello and smiles – give me a second.
So I say: I just wanted to say hello and wish you a Happy Madaraka day – you know, not wanting to intrude but also wanting to just pass the wishes for the day.
In true Kenyan style she goes: Oh my Gosh, I forgot.
The other cashiers on both sides wonder what is going on and look at us frowned and funny, and the lady being served looks a little peeved that I interrupted her paying for whatever she was paying for.
K (the name on her tag) asks me to wait a minute.
The customer leaves and we chatter about this and that – and then she asks me: Why don’t you come by tomorrow, I will give you my number and then we can go out for a drink or something. LOL what is a Kenyan without the obligatory drink with a fellow countryman even though they are complete strangers in a strange land. This lady doesn’t know me from Eve and does not even know my name.
I was in heaven.
Mainly because not only did I make her day, but also she put an extra spring on my step.
What am I saying?
When K said she forgot it was Madaraka day, I just smiled – mainly because this time last year, I would have said the exact same thing. I see a date on my phone at work and crack my brain to figure out what the significance is, but draw a blank cos my mind is elsewhere. I have to admit that even when I read about Kenyan activities going on in London, my first and second and third ad infinitum instinct is to just about file them and hastily forget about them.
Doesnt matter that I buy T-shirts and paraphenalia from Kenya with Kenyan flag or words on them, or that my printer has had a Kenyan flag on it since 1999 (flag bought in Atlanta, USA, no less), that I got a Kenyan Tshirt from Msanii, bought from the USA, delivered from a warehouse in the UK for my birthday this year, that I buy Kenyan Tea, actually KTDA tea from my local factory, to give to friends as presents from Kenya, doesnt matter that I feel proud saying that I come from Kenya, and not any other African country, listen to BBC Kenya news online in Swahili just to update myself on the lingo (and fail miserably) – damn, anything that you can associate with Kenya is wrapped up warm with extra central heating and the obligatory blow fan, but that in itself doesnt make me a Kenyan patriot with pride.
Having lived abroad for (insert figure denoted by a donkey) years, I have been desensitised to a lot of things – and most of those are skewed towards national holidays in Kenya. You don’t get to take the day off, watch TV and listen to boring Presidential addresses (hey Ms K), see flags draped around monuments and buildings, listen to great new music heralding our (shamelessly using this) achievements – listen to this song which still brings a big choke to my throat, although I wasn’t born then:
(Making this one up, big time – would appreciate the lyrics if anyone is so inclined)
Ilikuwa December kumi na mbili
Watu wote walisikia Kenyatta ameshikwa
Hakushikwa Kenyatta peke yake
Lakini walikuwa na shujaa (I think)…..
Woi woi woi
Woi tunataka Kenyatta awachiliwe
(PS: Kenyatta was a personal friend of my paternal grandfather; they fought in the wars together, and they died the same year (RIP Guka M), hence the whole star-struck routine)
What I was meant to be saying, and mercilessly failing, is that due to being a blogger and a Member of KBW, I only have thanks to say to anyone and everyone who has lifted the veil of indifference that I have always worn for this and any national day in Kenya. If I weren’t a KBW member, I would have sailed through today without the joy, the appreciation, the pride, the honour, the knowledge, the shame, the laughter, the tears, the added friendship, the heartfelt gratitude, the shared common bond, the kinship, the near heart-attack, the wondrous mountainous information – the sense of belonging, that I got today.
And its still coming in
The Americans use the whole: ‘I’m an American‘ – to just about get the world to roll over and kiss their collective behinds, today was our day
Happy Madaraka Day all
KBW rocks on..