By; Meshack Masibo
As I sit quiet in local campus mess a group of gents well clad in suits and a lady beautifully curved in a white sundress come sit on the table next to mine, they make a whimpered look at me, almost like a sneer and instantly look away. The person on the other table, right of them seems overly cozy with them and within seconds they burst out in cheerful laughter with one saying something along the lines of “Omera I didn’t know you are here?” and what followed was a thinly veiled conversation that to my deprecation I could not understand. I tell you this story not to castigate on the embracing of our culture but to show you a plight you may have never heard of nor understood. Now had this clique been talking in Swahili or at least opined the decency to say hi to me in Swahili, I would’ve told them two things; one, that the seats they were sitting on had just been painted and two that the roof directly above them was leaking. The person they were talking to had also just come and did not know this.
We are our background, we are our communities but we are also whoever we want to be. It is parallel to logic, academic or otherwise for you to travel from your village in Kirinyaga or Bungoma where you spoke your beautiful artsy language in verbose technique to a workplace or institution of higher learning only for you to look for your village mates and start talking your native tongue. The whole essence of education is interaction and one cannot interact if one doesn’t communicate and one can’t communicate if the other person doesn’t comprehend what you’re saying. It is thoroughly divergent to reason for you to limit your precincts of interactive growth to your village and your village mates. It is thoroughly insulting for you to be conversing nuncupatively with a beautifully fine curved Taita Lady, planning the demographics of your plausible romantic escapades then one of her tribesfolk walks by and for a split second you’re ignored for them to talk a language you know nothing about and worse off is that they may not bother to interpret what they’ve said for you.
For the speakers, it rarely impedes upon your conscience because after all that’s your language, but what of one who doesn’t understand? The first thing that comes to such a person’s mind is that you’re talking about them and worse off that you’re talking about something blatantly nefarious with regards to them because even in your own prudent reasoning do you think someone would conceal from you something good he/she has said about you? Now before you cast your stones upon me I wish to clarify that am not in any way against speaking your ethnic language, God knows I love my native tongue and if I could speak it clearly it would my conversational modus operandi ever too often, but don’t speak your native language where they are persons who do not understand you and furthermore do not sacrifice socialization with persons from other parts of the country at the altar of ethnic cacoonism.
This would go a long way to widen our mindsets beyond our communal thoughts or what our parents or grandparents taught us. “Hao ni wachawi, hao ni wezi, hao wasichana huuwa bwana zao, hao wababa wao huwa na wake wengi..” this is are some of the speculative unproven stereotypes that we’re fed from childhood which we never dare criticize irregardless of the behemoths of knowledge and education we garner as we pass through life. I was shocked recently when I was asked if we (read my community) eat people. I was not even shocked by reason of her asking but because there existed such iridescently unscrupulous, pretentious and capricious misconceptions that were yet to be disproved from persons more so those as geographically close to the actual community in question as she then was. It is a classic case of a child who lived believing her next door neighbor was a serial killer simply because her mom once saw him carrying a machete going out in the wee hours of the morning and told her so. Unbeknownist to them both was that he worked at a butchery in the next town and had to wake up every morning to go slice the meat they would eat later that very day. Maybe the mother never bothered to ask him or report him because he was a Yoruba and the Yoruba were a weird and dangerous lot according to what her mother too had told her.
Dear friends why are we are so driven by what our parents or grandparents told us about other people that we never seek out the truth for ourselves?
I have a friend called Abdi Hussein from high school and he hates ISIS as much as I do, I have a friend called Wangechi and shes’s bought me lunch severally without asking me for anything in return, I know a guy called Wanjala and he is not a watchman… the list goes on because I met this people and instead of retreating to the mindset my village had put in me I talked to them deeply and have not regretted it ever since.
Dear reader,before speculating… find out for yourself!!