i certainly didn't see this coming, but, it did. i met a man whom i was instantaneously attracted to. he speaks perfect english, has the smallest eyes and hands of any man i've seen, and, this was the deal breaker for me, on the second date asked my mothers name.
in all truthfulness, i do believe in synchrocity of events.
considering a few days before the eventful meeting, i had an ephiphany sort of like moment in the bathroom. 'men are incredibly weak.' i muttered to myself.
in the beginning i was ravelled that this. apparently, this was something i had thought about for a long time. and voila, i met this man, in the most mundance of places: wal-mart while shopping for spoons.
in swahili, tulipelekana , means walking together. not necessarily in the same direction but walking nevertheless.
lets call him sirius, like the star discovered by the dogon.
sirius is white, a soldier with a fascination with weaponery and a patriot. now, people like him, i've avoided with great expertise. i don't bother them, they dont bother me. i have nothing they'd like to know, and neither do they. as far as i'm concerned, we do not operate in the same orbit.
what a ******* lie.
the white part, i had come to accept as reverse racisim. yes, i admit i have had issues with that. now i understand that not every white person (read male) is the man who sexually abused me.
i began to like small things about 'whiteness'. things like how the skin is an elastic collage of freckles and like. the beauty and opaque-like quality of paleness of skin. i like to pass my hands through soap lathered hair. words like 'dude' , 'sweet'. the odor of skin. the differences between the colours that until then i had not had a chance to investigate up close and personal with my fingers, tongue, eyes and mind. i am excited as to how diverse we are. the way our bodies are such exqusite vessels.
inasmuch as these things are a visceral delight, i ask for mercy in walking through the construct of race. in my heart i know we are people, my mind takes a while to process this.
soldiers were an invisible entities until sirius come into the picture. i knew nothing of them. never thought of them. i feel embrassed saying this. the truth is, i thought they are non-people. devoid of any humaness. how could they, i previously asked, go into harms way and kill people. i mean how dare they! sirius would speak of honour and the band of brotherhood as we lay quiet with our rythmic breathes playing the orchestra of life. i would retort back with disguist, 'what about the lives that are lost?' 'what about that?'. he would reply. then he would reply with absolute resolve and conviction, ' for peace to prevail, war is necessary.' i would then look back at him, puzzled and flabbergasted. & the only thing i could do then would curl up seeking warmth from the womb.
i feel that the engagement of any war or acts of violence is the anti-thesis of humanity.
one can say i am naive to say this. since a) i have not been immersed physically at a place of conflict. b) i speak of things out of book knowledge than experience.
i remember most vividly the afternoon of april 6th. 1994. it was a weekday. an extremly hot afternoon. the sun was blaring unmercilessly and i was walking towards the bus-stop on my way home.it was in the middle of nairobi centeral business district. it was rush hour. a news flash announcement was brodcasted through a street seller's radio. president habyarimana's plane was gunned down in kigali. the president was hutu. a chill run down through my body. i was immediately confused and deeply afraid.
100 days later saw the worst of human kind.
it come to be known as the rwanda genocide.
almost ten years, i know have began to process the images i saw transmitted through the airwaves in those years. the sea of people walking towards goma. the bodies thrown haphazadly along the road. disorged bodies of mothers and fathers. boys and girls. people in pursuit cut down by neighbours and friends. people they knew all their lives.
and besides the images i think of my country. kenya by god is not any different from rwanda or burundi. yes, we haven't each other en-masse. but there has been ethnic cleansing .
i'm thinking of that seed that is planted and nourished over the years. the them vs. us. they are out to get us, so let us get them before they do. i am from a community that considers itself as the best. infact it is often joked about that besides english and kiswahili , kikuyu is the third official language. i have in the past i have thought of myself as a kikuyu first, a kenyan way down the line.
one evening, sirius showed me a machete that he got for his father. he proudly went on to describe the various things you could do with it while he run his finger through the sharp blade as his voice went on to describe the various tasks: clearing of forest, the cutting of shrub.
i was stunned. i began to cry quietly and softly. he didnt see the far away look on my face, nor the tears that began streaming down my checks. i couldn't help but think of the normalcy of the machete. the machete is a basic tool in africa. its used for preparing the land, clearing the piece of land. it is as essential as the car is in texas. it is also the tool used in the rwanda genocide.
that night i come face to face with my history as an african. the immense sense of suffering that we continue inflicting on each other. over and over again, there is this coup here or this overthrow of government there. that coupled with the war on poverty. the war on aids. the war on illiteracy.
ever since independence, most of all african states have been engaged in conflict. no wonder when some of us travel and live away from africa we no longer want to be associated with that place of grief. the continent of perpetual pain. this so breaks my heart.
i suppose in the grand scheme of things, my eyes are opening up to other lives. other pains. other suffering other than my own or of those people that i love. thich nhat hahn speaks of violence outside as originating from within our hearts.
sirius and i are on different paths now. i give thanks for his life and the lessons he has taught me.